quote:Storm, flood and tornadoes across Alabama and Mississippi
Tens of thousands of people have lost power as severe weather rolled through the southern United States and turned deadly on Monday, January 2, 2017. As of early January 3 (UTC), at least 5 people have lost their lives. Authorities fear the death toll will rise and urge people to pay attention to the warnings and act accordingly.
A low pressure system brought severe thunderstorms to parts of the South on Monday, spinning off several tornadoes, flooding widespread areas and leaving more than 100 000 people without power.
The first line of storms storm hit parts of Texas around 05:00 local time, downing power lines, dropping small hail and sparking at least one house fire. At least 18 000 were without power. The second line of storms rolled in with the sunrise causing flash flooding.
The storms then headed east, causing significant damage to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Much of the damage was caused by flash flooding after a series of storms soaked the region over the past week. Some regions received up to 180 - 230 mm (7 to 9 inches) of rain in just a couple of days.
In Louisiana, a possible tornado reportedly damaged several homes in LeCompte. Severe damage was also reported throughout Avoyaleles Parish, including houses that trees fell through and a building that lost its roof. More than 16 000 customers in the state were without power at one point.
In Alabama, four people were killed in a single home when a tornado hit the town of Rehobeth in the state's south and crashed a tree onto their mobile home.
In Florida, the body of a 70-year-old man was found floating outside his travel-trailer, the Walton County Sheriff's Office said. The death was ruled an accidental drowning.
Downed trees and damaged buildings were reported in at least 28 counties in Mississippi, 15 parishes in Louisiana and 15 counties in Texas, The Weather Channel meteorologist Danielle Banks said.
In Mississippi, a confirmed tornado touched down Monday afternoon near Mendenhall, southeast of Jackson. A second, radar confirmed tornado hit near Mt. Olive, about 13 km (8 miles) northeast of Collins.
quote:The frequency of large tornado outbreaks in the US is increasing
The frequency of large-scale tornado outbreaks is increasing in the United States, particularly when it comes to the most extreme events, according to research recently published in Science.
The study by researchers including Joel E. Cohen, a visiting scholar at the University of Chicago, finds the increase in tornado outbreaks does not appear to be the result of a warming climate as earlier models suggested. Instead, their findings tie the growth in frequency to trends in the vertical wind shear found in certain supercells—a change not so far associated with a warmer climate.
"What's pushing this rise in extreme outbreaks, during which the vast majority of tornado-related fatalities occur, is far from obvious in the present state of climate science," said Cohen, the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor at Rockefeller University and Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University, who conducted the research while a visiting scholar in UChicago's Department of Statistics.
Tornado outbreaks are large-scale weather events that last one to three days, featuring several thunderstorms and six or more tornadoes in close succession. In the study, published in the Dec. 16 issue of Science, the researchers used new statistical tools, including extreme value analysis—a branch of statistics dealing with deviations—to analyze observation-based meteorological estimates associated with tornado outbreaks together with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration datasets.
The researchers estimated that the number of tornadoes in the most extreme outbreak in a five-year interval doubled over the last half-century. This means that in 1965 the worst outbreak expected over five years would have had about 40 tornadoes, while in 2015 the worst outbreak expected over five years would have had about 80 tornadoes.
"Viewing the data on thousands of tornadoes that have been reliably recorded in the United States over the past half-century as a population has permitted us to ask new questions and discover new, important changes in outbreaks of these tornadoes," Cohen said.
To understand the increased frequency in tornado outbreaks, the researchers looked at two factors: convective available potential energy, or CAPE, and storm relative helicity, which is a measure of vertical wind shear.
Earlier studies had projected a warming climate would increase CAPE, creating conditions favorable to a rise in severe thunderstorms—and potentially tornado outbreaks. But Cohen and his colleagues found the increases in outbreaks were driven instead by storm relative helicity, which has not been projected to increase under a warming climate.
"Our study raises new questions about what climate change will do to severe thunderstorms and what is responsible for recent trends," said co-author Michael K. Tippett, an associate professor at Columbia University's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. "The fact that we didn't see the presently understood meteorological signature of global warming in changing outbreak statistics for tornadoes leaves two possibilities: Either the recent increases are not due to a warming climate, or a warming climate has implications for tornado activity that we don't understand."
https://www.washingtonpos(...)m_term=.0d101f2dd24bquote:High-risk declarations for severe weather are rare. The last such issuance was June 3, 2014, according to Weather.com and hasn’t occurred in winter since 2008 . Since 1984, 42 percent of tornado fatalities have coincided with such high-risk days, according to the Weather Channel’s Kathryn Prociv.
The region under high risk hasn’t seen such a designation in a decade, the website for U.S. Tornadoes reported.