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Tornado Data Shows EM-DAT Is Worthless

October 23, 2020

By Paul Homewood



Back to EM-DAT!

As we know, the UN has been trying to pretend that the number of weather related disasters has rocketed since the 1980s. So I thought I would test their database on one specific area, where there is already well established data – tornadoes in the US.


EM-DAT provides a tool to filter records:



This generates a spreadsheet, which further subdivides into various categories of storms, one of which is tornadoes. And when we download the data for 1980 to 2020, we get this graph:



In short, a sudden jump in 1997, since when the number of tornadoes each year has been substantially higher then in the 1980s and early 90s. Obviously climate change then!!

But the first clue that the EM-DAT database is worthless is that the actual number of tornadoes, as recorded by the NWS, is far higher than EM-DAT say – typically about 500 a year, not half a dozen:


Remember that EM-DAT record even tiny events, which for instance affect only 100 people. Virtually every tornado which goes through a populated area will qualify under this definition.


And, of course, the NOAA graph above confirms that the number of tornadoes has been trending down, not up.

Plainly the EM-DAT database is worthless and should not be used for comparing long term trends.

  1. jack broughton permalink
    October 23, 2020 1:05 pm

    Are the two graphs not showing different strengths of tornado?
    It looks as though the EM-DAT data relate to stronger more damaging tornadoes?

    The problem is that the controllers of the meja are getting desperate to push their agendas. The engineering press is full of companies like Kier vowing to reduce their “carbon footprints” by buying indulgences. The AGW-controllers are getting into almost every area of business now with their “holier than thou” philosophy. I wonder how much damage the UK economy can take from these mad policies.

    • October 23, 2020 1:19 pm

      No, EMDAT should count all tornadoes which affect 100 people or more, so strength does not come into it.

    • A C Osborn permalink
      October 23, 2020 8:57 pm

      Tornados above EF3 show an even bigger drop off than all tornados.

  2. October 23, 2020 2:06 pm

    More on the extreme weather impact of AGW.

  3. Bob Webster permalink
    October 23, 2020 3:01 pm

    Accounting for difference in scale, the two graphs have virtually no similarity, an observation that strongly supports a conclusion that EM-DAT is worse than worthless, it’s misleading.

  4. Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
    October 23, 2020 4:29 pm

    Maybe the EM-DAT folks forgot a Zero on the y-axis. Would still not be correct, but better.
    Readers might be interested in the “super outbreaks” of 1974 and 2011.
    A friend’s house was taken in the ’74 outbreak.
    The TV program about a fictional radio station, titled “WKRP in Cincinnati”, had an episode about these tornadoes. Near the end of that, Mr. Carlson talks a scared child through the storm. [Season 1, Episode 12, Tornado, 1979]

    Natural events that happen infrequently generally have a high variance, and are not well suited to statistics based on normal distributions.

  5. MrGrimNasty permalink
    October 23, 2020 7:38 pm

    ‘Worthless’ lockdown pollution claims continue on BBC.

    Local news had a brief bit on pollution levels during lock-down in Southampton.

    Total traffic down 55%, NO2 down 12% compared to the same time last year.
    (Presumably PMs not mentioned because they did not drop.)

    So if all road traffic is banned, NO2 doesn’t even drop by 25%?

    And private motor cars (which is what they really want to ban) only make up a tiny part of the NO2 from all traffic.

    And the whole comparison to the same time last year is nonsense – the weather may have been completely different, and there is no way to accurately apportion the reduction to any one source…….. port shipping, traffic, GCH, nature – who knows!

    As of 23rd Oct the graphs below go from a couple of weeks before lockdown to present, you’ll have to increase the 230 parameter for each additional day if viewing in the future.

    The PMs and NO2 can be isolated by hovering over the corresponding label on the right. Hard to see much pollution reduction corresponding to lockdown, possibly gets worse for some variables!

    SA33 is classed as urban traffic 5m from A33.
    SOUT is classed as urban background.

  6. Rosie permalink
    October 23, 2020 8:08 pm

    Off topic, but (sorry) I don’t know where to post this comment, which is to draw attention to an article at the Daily Telegraph by IDS, pointing out who profits from electrification. Obvious enough to readers here but I’ve not seen mention of it at the DT before.
    “As the free world continues to pour money into China, buying batteries, wind turbine equipment, nuclear power stations, computers, telecoms equipment, and much more besides, it is only becoming ever more dependent on this authoritarian regime. ”

  7. MrGrimNasty permalink
    October 24, 2020 10:44 am

    My ISP and/or Google have obviously targeted me for ‘re-education’, despite my adblocker and habit of declining all cookies etc.

    Of the stuff that gets through, or if I have to turn off the blocker, I get stuff like this!

  8. October 24, 2020 4:22 pm

    I unfortunately cannot access this EM-DAT website (yes, not even the public one), therefore I cannot see what further filtering may take place based on any additional qualifiers/criteria, but I gotta say that “convective storm” is quite vague. Your first image doesn’t give me any information as to how “Convective Storm = Tornado”.

    Not all thunderstorms produce tornadoes, Thunderstorms are quite commonplace, destructive thunderstorms are quite commonplace, but tornadoes are rare, and tornadoes which cause damage worthy of the media’s time are very rare.
    Hail? Yes
    Strong winds? Yes
    Lightning? Yes
    Microbursts which could be mistaken as tornadoes? Yes
    Heavy rains/flooding? Yes
    Tornadoes? Meh…not so much.

    So I keep reading your article, it would appear that this EM-DAT site breaks down into various categories for you, which produces the image which you shared. OK, this is starting to make some sense now, but yeah I agree that the numbers both look right, and look wrong. If one is looking for recorded tornadoes which resulted in property damages “above such and such $ amounts”, yeah I guess it looks right-ish. If one is looking for recorded tornadoes which resulted in injuries/deaths “above such and such number”, again it looks kinda right.

    My eyes immediately went to 1977. 1978, 2000, 2004, and 2015. 1977 & 1978 weren’t there, I figure I’ll spare you my 2000 and 2004 stories, so my eyes settled upon 2015 because a tornado (I believe it was either an F3 or F4 hit not three miles from my house on the day after Christmas, it did extensive damage to apartments right across the street from a place I once lived, and 10 people were killed. This, was a huge storm, the tornado was very significant, and there were many tornadoes on that day…this was only one. I recall the entirety of my family spending the entirety of the evening packed into the hallways with pillows and flashlights because it stormed and stormed, and then stormed some more. I can’t help but think of “lost revenues” due to people cowering in their homes, many without electricity, not going on about their daily lives, all on the day after Christmas. (Boxing Day for you cousins across the pond) But maybe more on why I brought that up another time.

    I drove out past where the tornado hit some days later, and although I’ve seen tornado damage before, it was a bit different seeing it here because I once lived here, and I drove right over the bridge where most of the people were killed. 10 people being killed is quite significant. Hell, a single person being injured even slightly is significant. However, as I drove over this stretch of road, I could not help but think about how many people have been injured or killed in automobiles over the years along this very same stretch of highway, and hardly anyone bats an eye. I then, in my journey, came to two different stretches of road where I personally have seen fatal automobile accidents. Digress.

    I then come to the point in your article which mentions that…
    Remember that EM-DAT record even tiny events, which for instance affect only 100 people.
    A tornado that affects 100 people is neither tiny nor the implied “insignificant”, Straight-line winds that affects 100 people is not tiny. Nor is hail or flooding that affects 100 people “tiny”. These are acute events. The equivalent of mother nature activating a sleeper cell (pardon the “thunderstorm cell” pun) to stir the pot and throw a wrench into the plans of those calling the shots and trying to control it all. I personally do not see things that way, but I’m sure that there are those who see natural events as being just that. To focus on tornadoes I guess is kinda exciting because of the nature of tornadoes.

    If anything, I’d say the great difficulty those at the UN or any other governing or even insuring body is going to face will be determining what actually caused a certain something during a particular “convective storm”. Each storm tends to bring the entire package of heavy rains, flooding, lightning, strong winds, and the potential for both hail and tornadoes. Again, tornadoes are rare, but every single thunderstorm that forms here, regardless of the time of year, means that a tornado is not only possible, but likely. Even when tornadoes are unlikely, they are still possible. Just part of life one grows to accept when living here in the basement of Tornado Alley.

    All that to say, and this is just me, but at a glance both the data from this EM-DAT thing (whatever in the hell it is) and the NWS charts look correct to me. As to what may be behind any perceived increases/decreases in tornadic activity? Welp, the fact that we are keeping more and (hopefully) better records is indicative of why certain numbers may be difficult to accurately and correctly interpret. I guess it’s similar to this nCoV-2019 thing and the testing. There are agendas that come along with the results, and the filtering criteria can make things more muddy, rather than clear because one is looking at the data through a particular agenda, rather than utilizing the interpolative faculties that we all possess in order to see what is actually there.

    To relate a bit as to where I personally see the numbers from “the big wheels” coming from…

    That’s a someone I follow on Twitter. Just a random someone I somehow stumbled across, just doing their thing, in near complete silence and utter obscurity. Not many followers, they report mostly uninteresting facts, mundane trends, and typically post stuff that would lull most to sleep. Me? My eyes light up in total wonder every time they make a tweet, Boots on the ground, relentlessly and unceasingly reporting what is almost to be sure to be factual data, and doing so completely unheralded. My point? Temper your sources. Like Sean Connery’s character said in the movie The Untouchables…

    “If you’re afraid of getting a rotten apple, don’t go to the barrel. Get it off the tree.”

    And yes, I wrote all that meandering BS above knowing full-well that I may have completely misread and/or misunderstood your post. But yeah, I’m still stuck at “both of those graphs from the two different sources look correct-ish to me”. Plus I cannot access the website and data for myself, so I have to rely totally upon you and what you are telling me as being factual, accurate, and complete.

    • October 25, 2020 1:41 pm

      You actually have to register with EM_DAT to access it. Give it a try!

  9. October 24, 2020 6:18 pm


    “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”

  10. yonason permalink
    October 28, 2020 8:51 pm

    (Un)settled Science…

    They are so used to distorting data, they can’t help themselves.

    Case in point with Covid-19

    Although not “on topic,” it illustrates how familiar they are with presenting data in misleading ways. My assertion is that the problem is endemic to the system. The whole enterprise of “science” has been corrupted. When one is rewarded for tampering with the data and punished when one doesn’t, the outcome is a foregone conclusion.

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