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New Study Claims Tornadoes Are Getting More Frequent In Southeast

March 8, 2019

By Paul Homewood


 Sometimes a story comes along which underlines just how corrupt climate science has become.



At least 23 people have died after a tornado barrelled through Lee County, Alabama on Sunday, leaving behind damage that Sheriff Jay Jones described as "catastrophic," CBS reported.

"I cannot recall, at least in the last 50 years, and longer than that, a situation where we have had this type, this loss of life that we experienced today," Jones told CBS affiliate WRBL-TV.

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Birmingham, Alabama issued a tornado emergency at 2:09 p.m. Sunday for Lee County, AccuWeather reported. The tornado was part of an extreme weather event Sunday that saw several tornadoes touch down across the Southeast as part of a series of storms, The Associated Press reported.

The incident comes a little less than six months after a Northern Illinois University study found that tornado frequency was trending away from the traditional "tornado alley" of the Great Plains towards the more densely populated Midwest and Southeast. This is bad news for the South, where tornadoes are more deadly because of higher population density, a high number of vulnerable mobile homes and a greater chance of tornadoes occurring at night.

Researchers told CBS at the time that the eastward shift of tornadoes was related to the eastward push of dry air from the desert into the plains, shifting the "Dry Line" between dry desert air and warm, wet Gulf of Mexico air along which most tornadoes occur.


Study author Dr. Victor Gensini of Northern Illinois University told CBS this shift could be due to climate change.

"It’s not a big jump to say that climate change is causing this shift east. The hypothesis and computer simulations support what we are observing and what we expect in the future," Gensini told CBS.


Northern Illinois University issued this press release last October, when the Gensini study was published:

A new study finds that over the past four decades, tornado frequency has increased over a large swath of the Midwest and Southeast and decreased in portions of the central and southern Great Plains, a region traditionally associated with Tornado Alley.

The study, by meteorology professor Victor Gensini of Northern Illinois University and Harold Brooks of NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., found significant decreasing trends in frequencies of both tornado reports and tornado environments over portions of Texas, Oklahoma and northeast Colorado.

Tornado Alley remains the top zone for tornadoes in the United States, but other areas, including the so-called Dixie Alley that includes much of the lower Mississippi Valley region, are catching up.

The researchers identified significant increasing trends of tornado reports and tornado environments in portions of Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee and Kentucky.


The Gensini study, which is here, makes absolutely clear that “all tornadoes” were used in the analysis, which runs from 1979 to 2017.

Yet anybody with any expertise on tornadoes knows that there has been an increase in tornado reports over recent years simply because of better reporting.

As NOAA themselves state:

With increased National Doppler radar coverage, increasing population, and greater attention to tornado reporting, there has been an increase in the number of tornado reports over the past several decades. This can create a misleading appearance of an increasing trend in tornado frequency. To better understand the variability and trend in tornado frequency in the United States, the total number of EF-1 and stronger, as well as strong to violent tornadoes (EF-3 to EF-5 category on the Enhanced Fujita scale) can be analyzed. These tornadoes would have likely been reported even during the decades before Doppler radar use became widespread and practices resulted in increasing tornado reports. The bar charts below indicate there has been little trend in the frequency of the stronger tornadoes over the past 55 years.

EF1-EF5 Tornado Counts

EF3-EF5 Tornado Counts


To include the weakest EF-0 tornadoes in the study fundamentally undermines the whole exercise, given that EF-0s now account for over 60% of all tornadoes.


So, what happens when we only look at the stronger EF3+ tornadoes in Alabama?

Surprise, surprise, they have become much less frequent!




The spike in 2011 obviously sticks out a mile, just as 1974 and 1975 do, but they are outliers, and should not be confused with underlying trends. 2011 was a weather event, just as 1974 and 1975 were, and nothing to do with “climate”.

(Question – Gensini begins his study in 1979. Why? By doing so, he takes the early 1970s, when tornadoes were much more common, out of the equation.)

By starting in 1979, instead of 1950 or 1970, Gensini turns a declining trend into an increasing one.




In any event, the supposition that tornadoes did not use to be common in the southeast is bunkum. Mississippi and Alabama have actually had the most tornadoes on an area basis since 1995 of all states with the exception of Kansas.


Using 1986 to 2015 climatology, the belt with most intense activity lies across Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.


There is no evidence whatsoever that “tornado activity has increased” in the southeast, as claimed.

Unfortunately, as long as money is thrown at junk studies like this one, they will keep being written.

But one is entitled to ask why peer review never picked up such obvious flaws in the paper.

  1. Adrian permalink
    March 8, 2019 6:08 pm

    Oops I misread that as ‘Tomatoes’, must be getting hungry, or more stupid.

    Would have been nice tho’.

  2. It doesn't add up... permalink
    March 8, 2019 6:09 pm

    We’re off to see the wizard, who is also a Geniesini.

    Does he have a tin man, or a straw man? Is his paper a scare-crow? Does it amount to anything in Toto? Do we Marvel at the results, or Lionise them? Must be the Wicked Witch of the West that is blowing tornadoes eastwards. Or perhaps somewhere over the rainbow.

  3. rah permalink
    March 8, 2019 6:23 pm

    Mortality rate due to tornadoes in the SE has always been higher relative to the number of tornadoes reported. One heck of a lot easier to see what’s coming in the wide open spaces than in the hills and a greater population density there I reckon. Scroll down to the and you’ll see that Alabama has the highest average annual mortality of all states.

    BTW this tornado season in the US is starting off with a bang. This weekend high potential for an outbreak in the area ranging from LA to AL and from there up into the Ohio River Valley. Then next week the set up is almost identical to the same it was in 2011 which was the last super outbreak we had when over 200 tornadoes were reported including an EF-5 thathit Joplin, MO head on.

    So look for more of this tornado climate change dung to hit the news in the near future. The ambulance chasers that can’t forecast squat but are there to pontificate loudly after the death and destruction that climate change caused it all will be out in force I suspect.

    • rah permalink
      March 8, 2019 7:42 pm

      Indiana is a good place to come for great tomatoes and also the best Cantaloupe on earth. Pretty darn good sweet corn too.

  4. March 8, 2019 6:28 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  5. Tom O permalink
    March 8, 2019 8:08 pm

    When I was younger, I was trying to find ways to make a little money by writing. I ran across all sorts of things on the internet, mostly questionable to me. I could write product reviews, as an example, or testimonials about products, and, as some of the ads said, I really didn’t even have to use the product, just talk to people that did. A testimonial without trying it. sounds reasonable. Right.

    But it looks like the way to have really made money would be to just write “newsy” reports that are commissioned, such as global warming support pieces. Nothing has to be real, just has to support the central idea. Now that is obviously where all the college kids seem to be going, since there isn’t going to be jobs for them on the outside, what with AI and all. This report appears to fit that bill.

    • dave permalink
      March 8, 2019 9:37 pm

      “…college kids…jobs…”

      In the Middle Ages, they would have been selling pieces of ‘The True Cross.’

    • Gas Geezer permalink
      March 8, 2019 10:37 pm

      Too green, to hack a green piece, perhaps.

    • Gas Geezer permalink
      March 8, 2019 10:40 pm

      Too green,to hack a green piece,perhaps.

  6. March 9, 2019 12:31 am

    Sometimes a story comes along which exposes how

  7. Tom Abbott permalink
    March 9, 2019 1:54 am

    At the time of this tornado outbreak, part of the polar jet and the subtropical jet stream were running parallel to each other above the storm outbreak location and the combination of the two is probably what caused this strong outbreak.

    One difference betwee say Oklahoma and Alabama is Alabama is probably going to average a higher humity than Oklahoma and high humidity if what tornadoes feed on. And at this time of year, Alabama is usually a little warmer than Oklahoma and tornadoes like warmer weather, too.

    Lots of humidity and the jet stream blowing from southwest to northeast makes for strong tornadoes.

  8. rah permalink
    March 9, 2019 3:40 am

    I have no stats or science to back this up but it has been my distinct impression over the years that more often than not when killer tornadoes strike in the SE it’s during the hours of darkness. I noticed from the helicopter footage of the damage path that the killer EF-4 that hit in Alabama went right through an area where the structures were modular homes. No basements, and no place to go.

    BTW, in unrelated news. This truck driver has been running from Anderson, IN (Near Indianapolis) up to various places in the Toronto area lately. Two runs a week over the last three weeks. To give you an idea of the road conditions, I have used about 15 gallons of windshield washer fluid in those three weeks.

  9. Gerry, England permalink
    March 9, 2019 9:38 pm

    ‘But one is entitled to ask why peer review never picked up such obvious flaws in the paper.’

    It either shows how poor peer review is or this was subject to ‘pal review’ by other alarmists, which is how so much of this crap gets published.

  10. March 11, 2019 12:00 pm

    Many years ago, National Geographic Society Magazine had a folded insert map to go along with an extensive article on tornadoes. The map had lines depicting previous tornadoes as to direction and length.

    Where I live in northern West Virginia about 8 miles south of the Pennsylvania line (Mason-Dixon Line), we get very, very few. They sometimes come up the Monongahela River and skip across the area, but are infrequent and not so deadly. One hit in June,1981 and dropped a tree on the 1968 house I owned above the river causing damage to the roof. It took out a few trees on the WVU campus and that was about it.

    However, to my north between Pittsburgh and Erie, there is a belt coming across there from Ohio. To the south, across Kentucky, Virginia and northern Tennessee is another belt. Then there is the southeast. At one point, I toyed with the idea of moving to southern Kentucky, but one look at that NGS map, caused me to rethink that.

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