A storm system described as "quite unusual for this time of year" unleashed three dozen tornadoes, thunderstorms, high wind and other severe weather across a wide swath of the nation Wednesday and Thursday, according to the Chicago Tribune. The unusual storm system could become more familiar in years to come, according to some research that suggests tornadoes and thunderstorms will become more frequent and intense as the climate warms.
Here's how Accuweather.Com described the weather yesterday:
"A vigorous storm system that tore across the central Plains Wednesday will continue to ignite numerous severe thunderstorms Thursday afternoon and evening from the mid-Mississippi Valley to southern Michigan. The upper-level energy associated with this storm system is quite unusual for this time of year, and this severe thunderstorm outbreak has the potential to be remembered for years."
Tornadoes and thunderstorms had been thought of as being too localized, as weather events, to tie to global warming. But a NASA study this August suggested that a warmer climate would produce more updrafts and keep more heat energy in the atmosphere -- two pre-conditions to strong storms like thunderstorms and tornadoes.
Even so, while the frequency and intensity of these storm events may be likely to increase, no one event can be attributed to a global climatic phenomenon. It could be, though, that this type of "unusual" weather event could become more and more commonplace if the atmosphere continues to warm up.
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