Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

18 Tornadoes Reported in 5 States Monday

Climate
A tornado Monday in Union City, Oklahoma. TicToc by Bloomberg / YouTube screenshot

Extreme weather spawned 18 tornadoes across five states Monday, USA Today reported. Tornadoes were reported in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arizona, but were not as dangerous as forecasters had initially feared, the Associated Press reported.


The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) had raised the probability of tornadoes in northwest Texas and central Oklahoma from 35 to 45 percent Monday afternoon. The last time chances were that high was April 14, 2012, when 122 tornadoes killed six people in Kansas and Oklahoma, according to USA Today.

"I'd certainly label this the 'nightmare scenario,'" meteorologist Mike Smith tweeted of Monday's forecast, as USA Today reported.

All of Oklahoma City was included in the "high-risk" area, and most of the largest school systems in the center of the state closed Monday, including the University of Oklahoma campus. It appeared to be the first time such a mass closure had taken place in central Oklahoma ahead of an extreme weather event, the Weather Underground reported.

"This event should result in a significant threat to life and property," the SPC said.

Luckily, the tornadoes touched down in remote areas and no injuries were reported, according to the Associated Press.

One tornado struck Mangum, Oklahoma, damaging some roofs and destroying the high school barn, though the animals survived.

"The pigs are walking around wondering what happened to their house," Greer County emergency management director Glynadee Edwards told the Associated Press.

Another tornado damaged a home and destroyed a barn near Lucien, Oklahoma.

The storm system produced golf-ball sized hail, and raised the risk of flooding, especially in parts of Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri, AccuWeather reported. The risk of tornadoes and flooding continued into Tuesday, but was less severe, according to USA Today.

The outbreak comes during a stormy month for the South-Central U.S. At least 50 tornadoes were reported in the central and southern plains last week and into the weekend, according to AccuWeather. And more storms are expected in the region later this month.

"It looks like there is no end in sight to this very active pattern of severe weather into the end of May," AccuWeather extreme meteorologist Reed Timmer said, as USA Today reported.

The relationship between tornado outbreaks and climate change is not yet fully understood.

A 2016 study co-authored by Columbia University professor Michael Tippett found that tornado outbreaks (systems that spawn multiple tornadoes in an area within hours or days) were becoming more extreme. An outbreak with a 20 percent chance of occurring in a given year would have produced 40 tornadoes in 1965, but 80 in 2015. However, the researchers found that the cause of those outbreaks was the opposite of what they would have expected if climate change were to blame, as Climate Central explained:

Why some storms produce tornadoes but others don't still isn't fully understood, but two components are essential: an unstable atmosphere, which promotes the convection that drives severe storms, and wind shear, or changes in wind speed and direction at different levels of the atmosphere, which helps create a tornado's rotation.

Climate models have suggested that instability should increase with warming, because of the excess water vapor a warmer atmosphere can hold, but that wind shear should decrease. The increase in instability was seen to win out, though, suggesting it could be behind the tornado trends.

But when Tippett and his team looked at trends in particular atmospheric measures of these two factors, "we found the opposite," he said: Wind shear was behind the trends in extreme outbreaks.

National Severe Storms Laboratory senior scientist Harold Brooks, who was not involved with the study, said more research needed to be done to determine if climate change were not responsible, or if scientists simply did not yet fully understand how it impacts storm systems. If climate change is to blame, then the increase in the severity of tornado outbreaks will continue. However, if the cause is related to a natural cycle, the trend could eventually reverse, Climate Central reported.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday. JustTulsa / CC BY 2.0

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

Read More Show Less
The Firefly Watch project is among the options for aspiring citizen scientists to join. Mike Lewinski / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Tiffany Means

Summer and fall are great seasons to enjoy the outdoors. But if you're already spending extra time outside because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be out of ideas on how to make fresh-air activities feel special. Here are a few suggestions to keep both adults and children entertained and educated in the months ahead, many of which can be done from the comfort of one's home or backyard.

Read More Show Less
People sit at the bar of a restaurant in Austin, Texas, on June 26, 2020. Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered bars to be closed by noon on June 26 and for restaurants to be reduced to 50% occupancy. Coronavirus cases in Texas spiked after being one of the first states to begin reopening. SERGIO FLORES / AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus may linger in the air in crowded indoor spaces, spreading from one person to the next, the World Health Organization acknowledged on Thursday, as The New York Times reported. The announcement came just days after 239 scientists wrote a letter urging the WHO to consider that the novel coronavirus is lingering in indoor spaces and infecting people, as EcoWatch reported.

Read More Show Less
A never-before-documented frog species has been discovered in the Peruvian highlands and named Phrynopus remotum. Germán Chávez

By Angela Nicoletti

The eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains in central Perú are among the most remote places in the world.

Read More Show Less
Left: Lemurs in Madagascar on March 30, 2017. Mathias Appel / Flickr. Right: A North Atlantic right whale mother and calf. National Marine Fisheries Service

A new analysis by scientists at the Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that lemurs and the North Atlantic right whale are on the brink of extinction.

Read More Show Less
Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular. Colin Dunn / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Julia Vergin

It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Data from a scientist measuring macroalgal communities in rocky shores in the Argentinean Patagonia would be added to the new system. Patricia Miloslavich / University of Delaware

Ocean scientists have been busy creating a global network to understand and measure changes in ocean life. The system will aggregate data from the oceans, climate and human activity to better inform sustainable marine management practices.

EcoWatch sat down with some of the scientists spearheading the collaboration to learn more.

Read More Show Less