Flawed Claim of New Study: ‘Extreme Tornado Outbreaks Have Become More Common’

Executive Summary
from Anthony Watts:
Why this study is fatally flawed (in [Watts’] opinion):

Ironically, the hint as to why the study is fatally flawed comes with the photo of the Wyoming tornado they supplied in the press release. Note the barren landscape and the location. Now note the news story about it. 50 years ago, or maybe even 30 years ago, that tornado would likely have gone unnoticed and probably unreported not just in the local news, but in the tornado record. Now in today’s insta-news environment, virtually anyone with a cell phone can report a tornado. 30 years ago, the cell phone was just coming out of the lab and into first production.

Also 30 years ago, there wasn’t NEXRAD doppler Radar deployed nationwide, and it [NEXRAD] sees far more tornadoes that the older network of WSR-57 and WSR-74 weather radars, which could only detect the strongest of these events.

[Pre-NEXRAD detection relied on a radar operator being present, proficient, persistent, and a bit lucky to paint the storm just right to see a hook echo or V-notch. These were the main markers at the time. With NEXRAD, the hooks and Vs are secondary to the Doppler shears pinpointing rotation. And now we can see much more rotation without the hooks and Vs–ergo, better detection and “more” tornadoes.]

Watts Up With That?

A new paper shows that the average number of tornadoes per outbreak has grown by more than 40% over the last half century. The likelihood of extreme outbreaks – those with many tornadoes – is also greater.

This paper is flawed from the start, right from the raw data itself, read on to see why – Anthony

Elk-Mountain-tornado A tornado near Elk Mountain, west of Laramie Wyoming on the 15th of June, 2015. The tornado passed over mostly rural areas of the county, lasting over 20 minutes. John Allen/IRI.

From the Earth Institute at Columbia University:

Most death and destruction inflicted by tornadoes in North America occurs during outbreaks—large-scale weather events that can last one to three days and span huge regions. The largest outbreak ever recorded happened in 2011. It spawned 363 tornadoes across the United States and Canada, killing more than 350 people and causing $11 billion in damage.

The 2016 Severe…

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