Quantcast

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

In this view from an airplane rivers of meltwater carve into the Greenland ice sheet near Sermeq Avangnardleq glacier on Aug. 4 near Ilulissat, Greenland. Climate change is having a profound effect in Greenland, where over the last several decades summers have become longer and the rate that glaciers and the Greenland ice cap are retreating has accelerated. Sean Gallup / Getty Images

The rate that Greenland's ice sheet is melting surpassed scientists' expectations and has raised concerns that their worst-case scenario predictions are coming true, Business Insider reported.

Read More Show Less
An Alagoas curassow in captivity. Luís Fábio Silveira / Agência Alagoas / Mongabay

By Pedro Biondi

Extinct in its habitat for at least three decades, the Alagoas curassow (Pauxi mitu) is now back in the jungle and facing a test of survival, thanks to the joint efforts of more than a dozen institutions to pull this pheasant-like bird back from the brink.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Elizabeth Warren's Blue New Deal aims to expand offshore renewable energy projects, like the Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island. Luke H. Gordon / Flickr

By Julia Conley

Sen. Elizabeth Warren expanded her vision for combating the climate crisis on Tuesday with the release of her Blue New Deal — a new component of the Green New Deal focusing on protecting and restoring the world's oceans after decades of pollution and industry-caused warming.

Read More Show Less
Former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson leaves the courthouse after testifying in the Exxon Mobil trial on Oct. 30, 2019 in New York. DON EMMERT / AFP via Getty Images

A judge in New York's Supreme Court sided with Exxon in a case that accused the fossil fuel giant of lying to investors about the true cost of the climate crisis. The judge did not absolve Exxon from its contribution to the climate crisis, but insisted that New York State failed to prove that the company intentionally defrauded investors, as NPR reported.

Read More Show Less

By Sharon Elber

You may have heard that giving a pet for Christmas is just a bad idea. Although many people believe this myth, according to the ASPCA, 86 percent of adopted pets given as gifts stay in their new homes. These success rates are actually slightly higher than average adoption/rehoming rates. So, if done well, giving an adopted pet as a Christmas gift can work out.

Read More Show Less