While the understanding of climate and tornadoes is progressing slowly, far more rapid gains have been made in the ability to forecast tornado outbreaks days in advance, and to detect and warn people when (or preferably ) tornadoes touch down.During the past two years, the National Weather Service upgraded its nationwide network of Doppler radars to take advantage of dual-polarization technology, which allowed forecasters in Oklahoma to provide an exceptional lead time of 16 minutes before the tornado struck Moore — far more than the average tornado warning lead time of 13 minutes.According to the Storm Prediction Center, in 2012 there were just 939 tornadoes and 70 fatalities.
While the understanding of climate and tornadoes is progressing slowly, far more rapid gains have been made in the ability to forecast tornado outbreaks days in advance, and to detect and warn people when (or preferably ) tornadoes touch down.
That means there needs to be high levels of humidity, and conditions in the middle to upper layers of the atmosphere need to encourage a rapidly rising motion of air.
Such conditions were present on Monday, as demonstrated by the sky-high reading of one metric that meteorologists use to quantify atmospheric instability — known as “Convective Available Potential Energy,” or CAPE.
This satellite loop shows the massive mushroom-like clouds, which reached heights of up to 60,000 feet above the surface, forming suddenly, as if lit by a fuse on Monday afternoon.
Climate studies show that atmospheric instability has already been increasing in some parts of the U.
In 2011, there was a La Niña event in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which has been linked to active tornado seasons in the U. The drought continued into the first half of this year, before shrinking back to the west, and this tornado season got off to a very slow start. The results of a computer-modeling study comparing the projected summer climate in 2072–2099 from 1962–1989.
CAPE is predicted to rise enough to overwhelm a slight decrease in vertical wind shear, leading to an increase in severe thunderstorm days, particularly in the eastern states. A key ingredient for producing tornadoes is a warm, moist, and unstable atmosphere.Probability of severe thunderstorms within 25 miles of a location as averaged from 1982-2011.This shows the highest odds of severe weather on Monday were in Oklahoma. In recent years, tornado researchers and climate scientists have been trying to make advances in unlocking the secrets of what causes such monster storms, and how manmade global warming may already be affecting them now and in the future.That's important since the strength of a tornado is determined by post-storm damage surveys.“We have little confidence in the accuracy of trends in the meteorological occurrence of severe thunderstorms (including hail storms) and tornadoes,” according to a recent study published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.The CAPE reading in central Oklahoma was approaching 4,000 joules per kilogram on Monday.CAPE is a measure of the potential energy available for storms, and how much warm, moist and buoyant air is present in a given area.Instead, an increase in tornado counts of EF-0 or stronger tornadoes has been attributed to an uptick in observations of very weak tornadoes.The Enhanced Fujita Scale measures tornado strength based on the extent and type of damage that they cause (no surface weather station has ever survived a direct tornado strike to take wind measurements from inside a twister).The record annual number of EF-4 and EF-5 tornadoes occurred in 1974, when 36 such tornadoes scarred the landscape of the Midwest and Great Plains.Between 2000 and February of this year, there were 129 EF-4 and EF-5 tornadoes, according to a Storm Prediction Center database.