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Arkansas Ravaged By Tornadoes

Doug L Hoffman, The Resilient Earth

In the ultimate blame game promoted by environmental fanatics and climate alarmists we are all at fault. But this is a pernicious lie. Arkansas’ tornado outbreak was simply a random act of nature, and nature is both cruel and capricious.

The state of Arkansas, in the south central portion of the United States, was struck last night by a number of storms that spawned deadly and destructive tornadoes. One of these tornadoes was a half mile wide at its base and reportedly stayed on the ground for eighty miles. The towns of Mayflower and Vilonia were particularly hard hit and the death toll currently stands at 16. Emergency officials and rescue crews are still searching for survivors. In the face of such a natural calamity people ask questions such as “could we have been more prepared” and “how can we help the victims.” Equally predictable in these times, a number of green pinheads have implied that this natural disaster was caused by global warming, and that we only have ourselves to blame. This is simply not true.

The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management confirmed on Monday that at least 14 people died near Little Rock, Ark., when a twister carved an 80-mile path of destruction through suburbs north of the state capital. Arkansas is at the edge of the traditional “tornado ally” but is no stranger to the severe weather phenomena. Sadly, the death toll of this tragic event was abnormally high. According to officials, ten of the deaths occurred in Faulkner County, where Mayflower and Vilonia are located. Three more occurred in Pulaski County, and one occurred in White County.

“Just looking at the damage, this may be one of the strongest that we’ve seen,” Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe said Monday. “And preliminarily — we haven’t done any records checking — but it looks like this is the largest loss of life that we’ve seen in one tornado incident since I’ve been governor.”

Authorities had to ask volunteers to stay away from some of the cleanup sites, as Arkansans rushed to help rescue their neighbors from the storm’s aftermath. It should also be said that the local news channels did a superb job of tracking the storms and issuing warnings to residents to take shelter as the tornado chewed its way across the heart of the state. This writer watched in horror as the twister struck town after town, places where friends and colleagues live, passing roughly ten miles south and east of my own home. Thank you FOX 16 KLRT and NBC 4 KARK for doing such great work both before, during and after the storm—local meteorologists had been warning for days that conditions would be right for a major outbreak of tornadoes on Sunday.

As can be seen from the aerial video above, shot right after the tornado moved through just south of Mayflower, Arkansas, on Sunday evening, the devastation was wide spread (video credit: Brian Emfinger). As tragic as this event was, and as selfless and heroic as the efforts of Arkansans to help their fellow citizens has been, there are still a number of lowlifes who cannot help but use this disaster to further their own agenda. I am, of course, referring to the human scum who waited less than a day to proclaim global warming as the cause of this tragedy.

Let me set the record straight: Tornadoes have not increased in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since 1950, and there is some evidence to suggest that they have actually declined. That statement is taken from testimony of Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., before the Committee on Environment and Public Works of the U.S. Senate. It should be noted that Pielke has been studying extreme weather and climate since 1993 at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO. Over the past 20 years he has published dozens of peer-reviewed papers on hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, Australian bushfires, earthquakes and other subjects related to extreme events. Since 2001, he has been a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado. He is not a climate change denier, he is a self-proclaimed luke warmer.

Moreover, he takes his data from the U.S. government, specifically the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Climate Data Center (NCDC). Those data indicate that the number of tornadoes occurring each year has not increased. This is shown in the figure below.

Not only have the yearly counts risen, the number of strong storms (EF3 and above) has not increased either. This shows that the intensity of the tornadoes is not increasing over time, so both of the points made by eco-scaremongers are incorrect.

Another statistic often used by warmists is to quote the ever rising monetary cost of storms, be they hurricanes or tornadoes. This is also a red herring, intended to mislead the unwary. Such figures do not take into account the fact that there are more people and more things for storms to damage nowadays. Nor do the raw dollar amounts take into account inflation. Using a methodology developed by K. M. Simmons, D. Sutter and R Pielke, published in Environmental Hazards, the normalized cost of yearly damages can be calculated and plotted.

As the authors stated in that paper: “We normalize for changes in inflation and wealth at the national level and changes in population, income and housing units at the county level. Under several methods, there has been a sharp decline in tornado damage. This decline corresponds with a decline in the reported frequency of the most intense (and thus most damaging) tornadoes since 1950.”

A number of factors contribute to a perceived rise in tornadoes and the damage they do. The Weather Underground website lists the following reasons for this fictitious rise in tornado activity:

    1. Population growth has resulted in more tornadoes being reported.
    2. Advances in weather radar, particularly the deployment of about 100 Doppler radars across the U.S. in the mid-1990s, has resulted in a much higher tornado detection rate.
    3. Tornado damage surveys have grown more sophisticated over the years. For example, we now commonly classify multiple tornadoes along a damage path that might have been attributed to just one twister in the past.

They go on to explain:

Given these uncertainties in the tornado data base, it is unknown how the frequency of tornadoes might be changing over time. The “official word” on climate science, the 2007 United Nations IPCC report, stated it thusly: “There is insufficient evidence to determine whether trends exist in small scale phenomena such as tornadoes, hail, lighting, and dust storms.”

The science here is conclusively inconclusive—there is no discernible trend in tornado activity. This will come as no surprise to those who actually study severe weather and the damage it can cause. Even the IPCC has concluded: “There is low confidence in observed trends in small spatial-scale phenomena such as tornadoes and hail.” The sad truth is that natural disasters have always afflicted humanity and will continue to do so in the future, but at no greater a rate, and with no increase in force, than in the past.

In today’s victim culture it is required that every calamity have a source, someone on whom the misfortune can be blamed. In the ultimate blame game promoted by environmental fanatics and climate alarmists we are all at fault. This is because we are causing global warming and everything bad stems from that. But this is a pernicious lie. Arkansas’ tornado outbreak was simply a random act of nature, and nature is both cruel and capricious.

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