The calendar said December but warm wet air was screaming for spring.
And tornadoes are beginning to occur in the wake of that deadly night of extreme weather that meteorologists and climatologists regard as historic and questions as to how climate change will intensify.
Victor Gensini, a Northern Illinois University professor and a leading tornado expert, said last night’s outbreak was one of the most spectacular tornado events in US history, and although climate change may have played some part in its violent behavior, it is not yet apparent what role it played.
Governor Andy Beshear told a news conference that tornado events have brought “level of devastation like I have never seen before,”
But, in contrast to other extreme weather events, such as droughts, flooding, and hurricanes, the body of scientific research linking the climate crisis and tornadoes was not as robust, making this link particularly challenging.
Scientists say the temporary scale of tornadoes, combined with a highly inconsistent and unreliable historic record, makes linking eruptions with long-term, man-made climate change extremely tricky.
Jennifer Marlon, a climate scientist with the Yale school of environment, told CNN it was too soon to say what started last night’s eruption, but that there were ‘some really important signatures that suggest that this very well may be linked to climate change,’ to climate change, noting that scientists are ‘observing changes in the outbreaks, not just the severity of individual outbreaks and tornadoes, but also quiet periods.’
As soon as Friday’s storm formed, extraordinarily strong wind appears to have stopped the tornadoes from splitting, experts say.