The governor of the US state of Kentucky spoke of the worst thunderstorm in his state on Saturday. Was the storm really exceptional?
‘Yes that was it. There was talk of a very well organized thunderstorm, the so-called supercell. This is a shower that lives and circulates for a very long time, in this case four or five hours. The supercell was capable of producing a highly destructive category tornado, F4 or F5 (the highest level on the scale, red.† It appears that this hurricane may have moved quite continuously from Arkansas to northwest Kentucky, over 300 miles away. This rarely happens.
Local media is speculating about the activity of several tornadoes, possibly 26. Is this normal?
You have to be careful with these numbers. This is the number of reported tornadoes. It is doubtful how many hurricanes have actually occurred. For example, several reports could be the same tornado.
It is not normal that this hurricane occurred in December. This is a month when the warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico does not reach as far north as it does now. Since the southern current is very strong, you can also get strong wind circulation with altitude, which comes more from the southwest. This rotation leads to shower vans.
There is also an element of bad luck. Several conditions must be met to produce a supercell that can last for a long time. It is clear that everything is now so balanced that an exceptionally long tornado can develop.
Does climate change play a role in these hurricanes?
Over the past few decades, some things seem to have changed. First, the Great Plains hurricane’s range is shifting in the central United States to the east and southeast. In addition, there seem to be fewer hurricanes. But if they do happen, you’ll often see larger outbreaks.
It is very difficult to predict how this will develop in the United States. Global warming increases the energy of thunderstorms due to a large amount of water vapor released into the atmosphere. On the other hand, there is also the opposite effect: higher temperatures seem to create a kind of layer of warm air that prevents the formation of hurricanes. It will ultimately depend on which of these two factors will dominate.
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