Just this last week, many residents of Florida experienced tornado warnings, and residents in South Florida were affected by damaging tornadoes. Similarly, last fall and winter, residents of West Central Florida saw many communities affected by the devastation that tornadoes can cause. While many meteorologists attributed the rise in tornadoes and tornado damage to last year’s El Niño, a recent article from iTech Post suggests that climate change may in fact be responsible, at least in part, for tornado outbreaks in Florida and across the country. As such, it is important for West Central Florida residents to prepare for the possibility of further tornadoes this year and in the future.
What do you need to know about the connection between tornado damage and climate change?
What is the Possible Connection Between Climate Change and Recent Tornado Outbreaks?
As the article explains, a recent publication in the journal, Science, discussed research that explored “increasing trends in the severity of tornado outbreaks around the U.S., measuring severity by the number of tornadoes per outbreak.” In the first half of 2016 alone, severe thunderstorms that produced tornadoes caused a total of about $8.5 million in property damage. What did the researchers conclude about tornado trends? In short, the “most extreme outbreaks” of tornado-producing thunderstorms are “increasing fastest.” To put this another way, the total number of tornadoes produced over the last years shows an upward trend.
To determine whether climate change is playing a role, the researchers investigated the amount of atmospheric energy known as convective available potential energy (CAPE), as well as the measure of vertical wind shear. The study concluded that, “with greenhouse gases trapping more energy and heat in the atmosphere, air will start holding more water, and that opens the scope for extreme storms.” Increased greenhouse gases, scientists agree, are an effect of climate change.
Researchers Need to Conduct More Studies to Fully Understand the Relationship Between Climate Change and Rise in Tornado Damage
According to Michael Tippett, the lead researcher of the study who is also an associate professor of applied physics and applied mathematics at Columbia University, the study ultimately raises more questions than it answers. The fact that greenhouse gases play a role in producing more extreme storms suggests that climate change may indeed be playing a significant role in the rising number of reported tornadoes in the U.S.
At the same time, as Tippett clarifies, the data does not correspond to assumptions that scientists made previously about the connection between severe storms and climate change: “the fact that we don’t see the presently understood signature of global warming in changing outbreak statistics leaves two possibilities: either the recent increases are not due to a warming climate, or a warming climate has implications for tornado activity that we don’t understand.”
With additional studies, researchers hope to be able to predict both short-term and long-term tornado activity.
Contact a West Central Florida Tornado Damage Attorney
Was your home damaged by a tornado? Do you have questions about filing a claim for tornado damage to your property? While Floridians are not as accustomed to tornado damage as residents of other parts of the country, tornadoes do indeed touch down and cause damage and personal injuries in Florida. If you have questions about filing a claim, or if you were denied coverage, an experienced West Central Florida tornado damage lawyer can assist you. Contact the Valrico Law Group to discuss your options for obtaining compensation.