Climate change will increase the frequency, severity, and danger of the supercell storms that spawn tornadoes like the one that devastated Rolling Fork, Mississippi, a new research shows. The study, published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, estimates — in a mid-range warming scenario — supercells will become 6.6% more frequent nationwide and with a 25.8% increase in the area and time of the size and duration. The study also shows the most violent storms will strike farther east, in more populated regions. Broadly speaking, climate change increases the heat and thus energy available for storms to unleash.
Supercell storms are “the dominant producers of significant tornadoes and hail,” lead author Walker Ashley, a meteorology and disaster geography professor at Northern Illinois University, told the AP. The storm that killed at least 26 people in predominantly Black Rolling Fork, Mississippi last Friday, is exactly the kind of storm the study predicts will become more common. “The data that I’ve seen has persuaded me that we are in this experiment and living it right now,” Ashley told the AP, three days before that EF-4 tornado struck. “What we’re seeing in the longer term is actually occurring right now.” More violent storms are expected later this week. (Study: AP; Rolling Fork: The Root: Storms forecast: Washington Post $)