Right Opinion

Less Worry for Dorothy and Toto

Joe Bastardi · May 9, 2018

Tornadoes have become the darling of those arguing the climate is going to you-know-where in the Wicked Witch of the West bicycle basket. But after all the hysteria that occurred following the 2005 hurricane season, it took 11 years for another major hurricane to hit the U.S. Now, on my power and impact scale, which differs slightly from the official Saffir-Simpson scale, there were three major hurricane strikes during that span. Regardless, the period was still well below the average.

Of course, when hurricanes hit, you know what that means — hysteria. And if I am right in my suspicions about an early season development this year, I’m sure it will be touted as more evidence of major climate problems. Yet if it does occur, the player is already telegraphed via phase 2 of the MJO. In fact, the MJO last year was used to forecast the hurricane season — a fact we alluded to in July before everything went off.

But back to tornadoes. Since the mega year of 2011, every year up until 2017 was below normal.

This year it’s way below normal, under the 25th percentile for the date.

2014, which is another analog year I am using, was well below normal.

In fact, including the big severe weather year of 2005, only three seasons — last year being one of them — had above-normal tornadoes in the U.S.

So since 2005, the amount of hurricanes and tornadoes impacting the U.S. is certainly not increasing. How can we tell? By looking at the actual data, not listening to climate ambulance chasers who scream that every event is a sign of doom and gloom.

What is the reason for the lack of increased frequency? Interestingly enough, my idea is that it may have something to do with the warming being counter to what one looks for. You need clashes, and that means you can’t have cold overwhelm at one time and then warmth at another. April’s cold allowed only one strong outbreak. With the flip to sudden summer, the jet stream has pulled far enough north that the big fights we saw like in the spring of 2011 are few are far between.

Here’s the setup in 2011:

And here’s this year’s April setup in which cold air dominated:

But when we look, for instance, at April-May temperatures over North America in 2011 and 2017, we find a lot of cool across Canada and warmth centered over the Southeast U.S.

It’s warm from the Gulf of Mexico into the U.S., meaning overall there is a steady supply of warm moist air and plenty of cool to initiate clashes. The storm track follows the boundary, seizes the thermal differences, and guess what happens?

Now about the below-average years…

Notice there’s not as much clash and it’s cooler all across the South. What is needed is cool to the north and warmth to the south. There is some of that in the Great Lakes, but that is not Tornado Alley, where the big years have occurred.

This year, the sudden summer being where it is means the fight is up across the Great Lakes.

The bottom line is there is a distortion going on that has led to less, not more, tornado activity. There is also a summer-version distortion — pressures have lowered in the means since 2005 in summers over the U.S. relative to the tropics, which has led to below-normal major hurricane hits. I point this out in our hurricane forecast, which will be on weatherbell.com later today. I also opined last year that I thought the opposite pressure pattern from the non-major years would occur. That was said in May, not after the season as the hysteria grew.

The hysteria over hurricanes and tornadoes since 2005 does not pan out when looking at the total. Which, like Dorothy and Toto, means you will see twisters, but overall you are not seeing as many of them since 2005, no matter what agenda is being pushed.

And given the fast flip to summer and the overall pattern, this year will mark the 11th year since 2005 of below-normal activity.


Joe Bastardi, a pioneer in extreme weather and long-range forecasting, is a contributor to The Patriot Post on environmental issues. He is the author of “The Climate Chronicle: Inconvenient Revelations You Won’t Hear From Al Gore — and Others.”

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