If you thought the weather this winter was warmer than usual, you’re right. Last week alone, over 2,600 weather records were broken, including over 1,000 new high temperature marks nationwide. Overall, this winter will go in the books as the fourth-warmest on record. The unusual weather has already done considerable damage to the agricultural sector in the South, particularly in drought-ravaged Texas.
Now, forecasters are warning of another weather-related danger: an early start to storm season, as evidenced by a powerful Michigan twister reported on Thursday which caused considerable property damage. Forecasters report that one cause of the severe weather was warmer-than-usual air temperatures:
The severe thunderstorm warnings came as much of the country east of the Rocky Mountains enjoyed yet another day of unseasonably high temperatures. Forecasters at Accuweather.com said that warm air was helping to fuel Thursday’s storms.
“It’s just so warm that we’re seeing thunderstorms pop up like popcorn the way you see it in the summertime,” said Dave Samuhel, a meteorologist at Accuweather.com.
The Thursday tornado had winds of 135 miles per hour. It would be the earliest recorded date a tornado that strong touched down in Michigan, according to the Tornado History Project. And as the National Weather Service reported yesterday, 36 states forecast warmer-than-average weather this spring, which could make storm season even worse.
Unfortunately, climate deniers still hold considerable sway in some circles, even if they have to “throw out 150 years of physics” to make their case. But as climate scientist Jim Hurrell noted, “The planet is getting warmer and it will continue to warm, on average, as we go into the future.” That spells trouble not just for Tornado Alley, but potentially for the entire country.