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Record Number of Tornadoes Tied to Global Warming

There have already been a record-breaking number of tornadoes in the U.S.?almost 400?and the tornado season isn't over until July. The last record was 188 in 1999. ''It's the longest stretch of outbreaks that I can recall,'' says meteorologist Dan McCarthy. 48 people have already died, more than died in tornadoes each year between 2000 and 2002. Last year a total of 55 people were killed by tornadoes. Whitley Strieber explains how global warming is connected to the increase in tornadoes.

The reason that these destructive storms have increased so dramatically is that the lower levels of the atmosphere, the troposphere and the stratosphere, are retaining much more heat than in the past, meaning that when spring comes and the stratosphere presses hot air upward, there is a much more intense release of energy. This release takes the form of rapid transfer of hot air upward and cold air downward. This circulation forms the storms that we are seeing now.

The increased inability of the lower atmosphere to release heat is due to a combination of many factors, the main one of which is believed to be the increase in carbon dioxide in the lower atmosphere. This will mean that extreme storms will continue, with their intensity increasing from year to year, from now on, as there is no effective effort to reduce atmospheric content of this gas.

The unusual number of storms was caused by the combination of an active jet stream and a mass of warm, moist air over the middle of the country. The jet stream sent numerous low-pressure systems moving over the central USA. Those systems collided with the warm, humid air and resulted in powerful storm systems that became perfect incubators for tornadoes.

Whitley explains all about our future weather in The Coming Global Superstorm.

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