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Published: Sunday, May 26 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Blue
Salt Lake City, UT

For all their destructive power, tornadoes are small, localized events, and can't offer much information one way or another on the subject of global warming.

A more useful, large-scale measure for weather evidence of global warming is hurricanes.

Extra heat in the atmosphere and the oceans provides the extra energies needed to create larger, more frequent, and longer-lasting hurricanes.

Researchers recently announced that the frequency of Atlantic hurricanes has doubled in the past 50 years.

embarrassed Utahn!
Salt Lake City, UT

We are heading into "uncharted waters". I'll continue to believe the 97% of climate scientists who are telling us that climate change is a huge threat, partially irreversible, and that we should all continue to minimize our individual degradation of our environment. Leadership of this country should also do everything possible to mitigate the nasty future that our children will have.

The climate-change models simply do not include what factors cause huge tornadoes; that doesn't mean Barbara Boxer is wrong. But that won't keep many, many Utahns from callously ignoring the facts...and making up their own.

Gildas
LOGAN, UT

"Extra heat in the atmosphere" is a localized event too,is it not? The "locality" may be relatively small or much larger. At all events it seems that we are experiencing more unpredictable and unseasonal weather.

Here in Utah, Idaho and elsewhere we seem to have had an unusually cold winter and a cooler spring than for many years. That is neither global nor is it warming.

I believe we should hear something more, more detailed, and more often, about thirty year averages and hundred year averages of temperature and see if it all amounts to more than just rounding up and rounding down of fractions of a degree. Local and Global.

What in Tucket?
Provo, UT

I am surprised that schools in tornado alley do not have storm cellars. Temperatures have not gone up the last decade or so despite more CO2 than ever.

Mountanman
Hayden, ID

Barbara Boxes embarrassed her self again by her Olympic leap of misinformation. If global warming is worsening and thereby causing more severe weather, there should be a measurable, predictable increase in the incidence of such events. But Harold Brooks, a research meteorologist with the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., points out that "the 12-month period from May 2012 to April 2013 was remarkable for the absence of tornado activity and tornado impacts in the United States." But who are you going to believe, world renowned climatologist Barbara Boxer or real scientists like Dr. Brooks?

higv
Dietrich, ID

Hurricanes and volcanic eruptions existed before the industrial revolution too. People have a descision on the issue not a knowledge.

The Skeptical Chymist
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

Mr. Christiansen:

You seem to think that fewer deaths due to hurricanes since 1954 implies that there are fewer hurricanes or that they are less severe now compared to previously. Does it not seem more plausible that the improvements in detecting and predicting the path of approaching hurricanes since 1954 could allow the population to make better preparations, and thereby to save themselves from an approaching hurricane? The worst death tolls from hurricanes in the past resulted from people not knowing that they were coming - until it was too late.

Moderate
Salt Lake City, UT

"In a list of the 10 most deadly hurricanes since 1900, 9 of the 10 occurred before 1954."
Attribute that to better communication and warning systems. We can't stop the hurricane, but we can let people know it is coming.

casual observer
Salt Lake City, UT

Everyone likes to tout "facts," but prior to the Oklahoma tornado this was a below average tornado season. The fact that "climate-change models simply do not include what factors cause huge tornadoes" does not prevent some in Utah from embarrassing themselves.

Furry1993
Ogden, UT

@Gordon Christiansen -- you have a problem with Senators Boxer and Whitehouse telling the truth? Sad.

JerseyGirl
Sandy, UT

Furry1993, can you describe the legislation that could have prevented the Oklahoma tornado? Even the most strident climate alarmists are forced to concede that proposed solutions like Cap-and-Trade or a carbon tax will have no effect on global temperatures. So blaming opposition to wildly expensive "solutions" that don't do anything for the deaths of dozens of people is rancid, vicious partisanship to the utmost extreme.

Shame on you.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

One problem: This entire letter is factless hyperbole.

Tornado activity has actually INCREASED. "...the average number of April tornadoes steadily increased from 74 a year in the 1950s to 163 a year in the 2000s.

In a list of the 10 most deadly hurricanes since 1900, 9 of the 10 occurred before 1954.
[To which you can thank your GOVERNMENT and real SCIENCE for improved weather forecasting, increased building codes, and multi-media early warning systems.]

SteveD
North Salt Lake, UT

Ms. Boxer is simply acting on the tried and true mantra of the democratic party. "Never let a good crisis go to waste".
Regardless of weather ther rise in average global tempuratures is due to humans or not, we need to take care of our environment.

Truthseeker
SLO, CA

"With the planet heating up, many scientists seem fairly certain some weather elements like hurricanes and droughts will worsen. But tornadoes have them stumped. Scientists have been pondering a simple question: Will there be more or fewer twisters as global warming increases?

Brooks and others are looking at the ingredients that cause tornadoes. But even that isn't simple. They look at two main factors: moist energy in the atmosphere and wind shear. Wind shear is the difference between wind at high altitudes and wind near the surface. The more moist energy and greater the wind shear, the better the chances for tornadoes.

The atmosphere can hold more moisture as it warms, and it will likely be more unstable so that means more moist energy, several experts said. But wind shear is another matter. Brooks and Stanford University scientist Noah Diffenbaugh think there will be less of that.

That would suggest fewer tornadoes. But if there's more moist energy, that could lead to more tornadoes. One ingredient has to win out, and Brooks says it's hard to tell which one will.
(USA Today "How Does Global Warming Affect Tornadoes?" 3/2013)

Hutterite
American Fork, UT

You don't suppose that, since 1954, building codes have improved, zoning laws tightened, and warning systems upgraded to reduce deaths from hurricanes?

atl134
Salt Lake City, UT

Um... why did the letter writer switch from tornadoes to hurricanes when providing evidence?

Okay here's the deal, the letter writer is correct in that there's no global warming connection to tornadoes. The IPCC report says as much. The trend is statistically insignificantly downward (we did just go through record high and low 12-month tornado counts the past couple years). The projections on it are rather split since more moisture and warmer temperatures would help but decreased wind shear would hurt it.

Hurricanes have been found to be getting slightly stronger over time (but not more frequent globally, the Atlantic basin is the only one with a statistically significnat upward trend, the other basins have statistically insignificant downward trends). There are multi-decadal patterns to frequency though and we've been in one favorable for the Atlantic for a while.

As for deadliest hurricanes and tornadoes (not sure which the letter writer intended there), the reason they are mostly before 1950 is because we did not have the satellite or radar coverage we have now. We'd be inadequately prepared. Plus buildings were much less sturdy back then. That all combined for higher casualties.

atl134
Salt Lake City, UT

@Mountanman
"If global warming is worsening and thereby causing more severe weather"

It is, just not all types of severe weather (floods and droughts both increase with severe weather since there's stronger evaporation... which is bad for the drought risk, and the increased moisture means more frequent heavy precipitation events which is bad for flood risk). Tornadoes are one of the ones where it's not. It is interesting though that the 12-month record low for tornadoes was only a year after the 12-month record high which covered spring of 2011. Shows the strong influence of jet stream patterns on tornadoes.

@LDS Liberal
Increases in tornado counts have been primarily due to increased capacity to find, observe, and report them. Controlling for that matter, the trend is statistically insignificantly downward (basically flat). The IPCC finds no link between climate change and tornadoes.

HaHaHaHa
Othello, WA

"you have a problem with Senators Boxer and Whitehouse telling the truth?"

Actually, I would love it if they could start telling the truth, but not holding my breath! This whole issue is a joke, and just like most things that leftists are passionate about, it involves half truths and double standards. It doesn't matter what goes on with our climate and weather, leftists will always come up with a theory about how we are causing man-made climate change. This is all an orchestrated theory, so they can take away personal liberty. Climate change has been going on for millions of years...we don't need to get ourselves worked up and scared over nothing!

DANL
Broken Arrow, OK

I live in Oklahoma and deal with tornados on a regular basis. It's not a fun thing to go into an are to help clean up. I worked with the LDS church on the Joplin tornado that wiped out the entire town just a few years ago. My heart goes out to all the family's as I remember the tears that rolled down my face when people thanked us for helping them. I will do the same in the next couple of weeks. The Lord said we have Angles round about us, come help and become an angle to the people that need us!

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

"This whole issue is a joke"

Try tell that to those who have lost their homes and businesses. Try telling that to those who are currently digging their possessions out. Try telling that to the father or mother who lost their dear child.

It's fitting that the party of the rich would call this horrible and costly weather a joke. Ill tell you a real joke, Wall Street needing $900 billion from taxpayers because they failed so bad!

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