Here’s what we know about how climate change is influencing tornadoes

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The link between warming global temperatures and extreme weather is clearest with unprecedented heat waves and extraordinary amounts of precipitation. While it’s harder to identify the relationship between climate change and tornado outbreaks — such as the ones that killed more than two dozen people across the central United States on Friday — scientists saythere are reasons to believe a connection exists.

There is “ample evidence” of increasing tornado risks during less typically stormy seasons, for example, said John Allen, an associate professor of meteorology at Central Michigan University. This winter brought record tornado activity across much of the South.

And new research suggests that as average temperatures rise, the sorts of intense storms that frequently spawn tornadoes are becoming more common outside parts of the Midwest known as “tornado alley.” A recent study forecast that by 2100, the average annual number of supercells — massive, rotating storms known for producing the most severe tornadoes — to hit the eastern United States will increase by 6.6 percent.

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