OK Tornado Rated EF-5; Link to climate change? Sun returns tomorrow


Not exactly a technical, AMS approved weather term. But if the shoe fits?

Our last really “yucky” weather day this week features occasional rain, drizzle and a raw north wind under a ragged grey sky.

Fast forward 24 hours to a bright blue sky with a strange bright object overhead. Thursday & Friday should put a spring back into your step.

The Memorial Day weekend forecast? Pretty typical for late May in Minnesota. Details below.

In this Updraft we look at the latest of 3 EF-4 to EF-5 monsters in to terrorize Moore, Oklahoma in the past 14 years. Are there any trends to link this event to climate change?

Moore, Oklahoma: Ground Zero in Tornado Alley

Incredible timelapse of Moore, OK tornado captured by an Oklahoma City news helicopter Monday

If there is an “Epicenter” in Tornado Alley, it has to be Moore, Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma City suburb has seen 3 direct hits from EF-4 to EF-5 tornadoes in the past 14 years.

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Image credit: Weather Decision Technologies

Jeff Masters has noted that the latest Moore tornado likely to be one of the five most damaging tornadoes in history.

Moore has the unenviable distinction of having previously experienced the 4th costliest tornado in world history, the notorious May 3, 1999 Bridgecreek-Moore EF-5 tornado. There have been only six billion-dollar (2011 dollars) tornadoes in history:

1) Joplin, Missouri, May 22, 2011, $2.8 billion

2) Topeka, Kansas, June 8, 1966, $1.7 billion

3) Lubbock, Texas, May 11, 19780, $1.5 billion

4) Bridge Creek-Moore, Oklahoma, May 3, 1999, $1.4 billion

5) Xenia, Ohio, April 3, 1974, $1.1 billion

6) Omaha, Nebraska, May 6, 1975, $1 billion

But is climate change a factor in producing more of these these monster EF-5 tornadoes?

Probably not.

Some facts:

-Oklahoma City has suffered the most direct tornado hits of any US city…at least 100 since 1890.

-Overall tornado stats show no real “frequency trends” to suggest a clear connection between violent tornadoes and climate change.

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Image: NOAA

-EF4 & EF5 tornadoes compose less than 1% of all tornadoes…but produce 70% of tornado fatalities.

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Image: tornadoproject.com.

-Warming trends in the US may produce more T-Storms overall, but also may create less wind shear that is necessary for tornado formation.

-There is some evidence tornado alley may be expanding northward. Annual average tornado numbers in Minnesota have nearly doubled since the 1950s.

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-My analysis of SPC data for the past few decades shows the number of tornadoes in Minnesota has actually trended closer to Oklahoma. The chart below shows tornado numbers by decade since the 1950s. Oklahoma is the top line, Minnesota below.

1 a a a MN OK tornaodes.png

Bottom line: There appears to be no discernible link between climate change and the increase in frequency of violent tornadoes in the US. There may be some evidence “Tornado Alley” is expanding northward.

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Sun on the way:

Let’s start with the good weather news. The sun will return to Minnesota tomorrow.

This morning’s high res Weather Tap visible satellite loop shows the clouds swirling over most of Minnesota, with sunshine in the far northwest.

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The latest NAM model run tracks the trend as our most recent deluge producing low pressure system finally pulls out tonight and a welcome wedge of high pressure slides in Thursday.

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How To End A Drought:

4.41″ May rainfall so far at MSP Airport

11.67″ precipitation (rain & snow) at MSP since March 1st

Somebody turned on the faucet this spring in Minnesota. It’s still running.

Our soggy April & May has turned farmers fields in southeast Minnesota from powder last fall to swamps this spring.

Check out the 30 day precip totals from NOAA’s AHPS.

That’s more than 10″ of precip in the past 30 days in SE Minnesota. Several areas have waterlogged more than 5″ of liquid that’s soaking into and standing on fields.

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Not exactly the best way to get a crop going…unless you’re planting rice and it’s about 30 degrees warmer.

I am growing increasingly concerned about farmers in southeast Minnesota and the shrinking window for getting crops to germinate and start growing this season.

Looking ahead the next 7 days appear to favor continued wetness in southern Minnesota, with a greater trend for sunny dry weather up north.

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Memorial Day weekend at the cabin anyone?

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Another holiday weekend in Minnesota is almost here. That means a good chance for rain right?

I can recall several years when I’ve gone to the BWCA with “the boys” on Memorial Day Weekend and we had sunny and pleasant weather…while the Twin Cities and southern Minnesota soaked up buckets of rain.

It’s “climatologically typical” for low pressure to favor southern Minnesota Memorial Day weekend it seems.

This year looks to follow suit. The chances for more hours of sun and fewer hours of rain will increase as you head further north this weekend.

Paul Huttner

  • Timothy-Allen Albertson

    This is one of the reasons why Congress needs to deund NPR. Passing off discredited junk science that is so bad its aderents want to get a majority or murdering those who do not agree with it. There is no climate change or global warming.

  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    Timothy, Did you even read the blog?

    “But is climate change a factor in producing more of these these monster EF-5 tornadoes?

    Probably not”.

    So what is your point? Just because you are one of those folks who finds science “confusing”, doesn’t mean the rest of us do. Don’t comment on things you can’t understand.