It’s the president’s job to console the nation when natural disasters strike, like the horrendous tornado outbreak last Friday night. Much of Mayfield, Kentucky, was flattened, and the current death toll in Kentucky alone is 64, with many still unaccounted for. But President Biden couldn’t resist conflating the whirlwind with climate change, and so he said: “The fact is that we all know everything is more intense when the climate is warming. Everything. And obviously it has some impact here.”
Tragic. But with regard to tornadoes, Biden’s appears to be thriving in a fact-free world. Sure, the number of tornadoes is increasing, but that’s because of improved detection technology. What about the ones that you don’t need radar to see, because they are monsters like Friday’s twisters? These would be the EF-4 and EF-5 storms. Friday’s storm in Mayfield hasn’t been classified yet, but surely is one of these.
If Biden is right, the number of extreme storms (“everything is more intense … And it obviously has some impact here”) should be going up.
Here’s the data since very sensitive WSD-88 (“Doppler”) radar coverage became complete, thanks to the site ustornadoes.com.
Figure 1. EF4 and EF5 tornado counts in the Doppler Radar (post 1994) era. There is a slight decline in frequency even as surface temperatures warmed a bit.
There’s actually a slight decline. Given that these big monsters don’t need radar to be noticed, let’s look at numbers of big ones all the way back to 1950, and ending when the doppler era begins:
Figure 2. EF4 and EF5 tornadoes in the pre-doppler era. There is a statistically significant decline in frequency accompanying a period of slight global warming.
It’s obvious that Biden is just wrong. Extreme tornadoes are in decline as the world has warmed. And it seems a bit insensitive to piggyback on people’s misfortune in order to push climate policies that recent polls indicate no one wants.