Carpe Diem

Inconvenient weather fact: Frequency of violent tornadoes like the one in Oklahoma has been declining, not increasing

tornado

1. From a Huffington Post article yesterday:

Climate change chatter ran rampant after an unusually violent string of twisters in 2011 (see chart above), including a Joplin, Mo., storm that killed 158 people. After tornadoes took at least 24 lives in Moore, Okla., on Monday, headlines are once again raising the question: Will a warming world fuel more tornado strikes?

Michael Mann, a climatologist who directs the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University said “If you’re a betting person — or the insurance or reinsurance industry, for that matter — you’d probably go with a prediction of greater frequency and intensity of tornadoes as a result of human-caused climate change.”

Gwen Ingram, an artist and yoga instructor, is one of many Oklahomans who have protested Keystone XL in recent weeks. The proposed project has become a poster child in the climate change debate, and Ingram said she does see a potential connection between climate change and the latest string of tornadoes to rip through her state, which boasts a long history of fossil fuel production and transport.

“They seem to be bigger and more intense,” said Ingram of the local tornadoes.”

2. From a Fox News story yesterday:

California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer used part of her Monday floor speech to connect the Oklahoma tornadoes to climate change.

This is climate change,” she said. “We were warned about extreme weather, not just hot weather but extreme weather. … When I had my hearings … scientists all agreed that what we’d start to see was extreme weather. … It’s going to get hot. But you’re also going to see snow in the summer in some places. You’re going have terrible storms. You’re going to have tornadoes.”

MP: There’s just one small, inconvenient problem with making a connection between climate change and an increasing frequency of violent tornadoes – the link doesn’t actually exist. The chart above displays the annual number of “strong to violent tornadoes” (F3 to F5 on the Fujita Scale) in the US from 1954 to 2012 based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center. Here are some weather-related facts:

1. Between 1954 and 2012, there has been a downward trend in the frequency of strong to violent tornadoes in the US, and that decline is statistically significant at the 1% level (see red line in chart). On average, there has been a decline of almost 0.40 violent tornadoes every year since 1954, or a decline of almost 4 violent tornadoes every decade.

2. Although there was a significant number (84) of violent tornadoes in 2011 (which generated responses like this in the Washington Post that claimed a link to climate change), there were actually more violent tornadoes in both 1957 (99) and 1965 (98).

3. In the first half of the sample period from 1954 to 1983, there were nine years when there were more than 60 violent tornadoes, and the annual average was 52 during that period. In contrast, in the second half of the sample from 1984 to 2012 there were only two years when there were more than 60 violent tornadoes, and the annual average was only 37.6.

Bottom Line: The statistical evidence on violent tornadoes, although frequently ignored by the media, politicians, and others claiming a link between violent weather and climate change, suggests that the frequency of violent tornadoes like the recent one in Moore, Oklahoma, has been declining over time, not increasing.

86 thoughts on “Inconvenient weather fact: Frequency of violent tornadoes like the one in Oklahoma has been declining, not increasing

    • “Scientists analysing ancient ice samples say that the Greenland ice sheet withstood temperatures much higher than today’s for many thousands of years during a period of global warming more than 120,000 years ago, losing just a quarter of its mass. It had been widely suggested – by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for instance – that any such warming would melt the entire sheet, leading to massive sea-level rises.

      The new research was carried out by analysing a 2.5km long ice core drilled from the Greenland ice last year by a major scientific expedition involving top boffins from around the world. The core data showed that 115 to 130 thousand years ago, temperatures above the Greenland ice were much higher than they are today: 8±4°C, in fact.” — UK Register

      <a href="http://live.wsj.com/video/antarctic-sees-record-growth-in-sea-ice/2D41F0FB-824C-407F-A605-838792BEAEEE.html?link=MW_hp_tboverticalx8#!2D41F0FB-824C-407F-A605-838792BEAEEE"Antarctic Sees Record Growth in Sea Ice

      • re: “good news”

        full quote:

        ” “The good news from this study is that the Greenland ice sheet is not as sensitive to temperature increases and to ice melting and running out to sea in warm climate periods like the Eemian,as we thought” explains Dorthe Dahl-Jensen

        and adds ….

        that the bad news is that if Greenland’s ice did not disappear during the Eemian then Antarctica must be responsible for a significant portion of the 4-8 meter rise in sea levels that we know occurred during the Eemian.

        This new knowledge about past warm climates may help to clarify what is in store for us now that we are facing a global warming.”

        • that the bad news is that if Greenland’s ice did not disappear during the Eemian then Antarctica must be responsible for a significant portion of the 4-8 meter rise in sea levels that we know occurred during the Eemian.

          Assuming a 4-8 meter sea level rise during the Eemian, and knowing that a good part of that is to be expected from expansion due to warmer temps, and knowing that the remainder must have come from ice melt – also expected during a time of higher temps – why is it bad news if some of it was from Antarctica as well as Greenland? Any significant amount of ice melt would have to come from one of those two places once other major continental ice sheets were gone.

          This new knowledge about past warm climates may help to clarify what is in store for us now that we are facing a global warming.

          That’s the obligatory deferential bow to the GW meme that’s required if you wish to get published in some journals. It has no relevance to the article.

          • re: ” That’s the obligatory deferential bow to the GW meme that’s required if you wish to get published in some journals. It has no relevance to the article”

            and the initial statement that said Greenland didn’t melt – the part that was quoted was – not a bow to the meme?

            ;-)

          • and the initial statement that said Greenland didn’t melt – the part that was quoted was – not a bow to the meme?

            Since it’s your quote, maybe you could explain what you think it means, as I asked.

          • neither quote is mine. both are from the original study of which only the first was cherry-picked for con arguments for GW and the second quote from the same person who did the study – ignored.

            this kind of thing goes on – on both sides… but in this particular study – the authors do believe that GW is underway… and no it’s not a bow to the meme.

            indeed the researcher did have this to say:

            ” That may not be a menace to civilization yet. But, says Dahl-Jensen, if Antarctica’s massive ice sheets do disintegrate — as the NEEM core suggests they did before — we could face an extremely rapid sea-level rise around the world. NEEM’s message is that the Eemian is distant only in years, not in consequence.”

            so the researchers full opinion was not accurately represented but instead one sentence was cherry-picked.

          • neither quote is mine…

            Umm… Larry – you copied text someone else wrote, and pasted it here in a comment, and even enclosed it in “quotes”. It is a quote, you did it, so yes, it is your quote. We all know you didn’t write the words yourself, as they form complete thoughts.

            But, you didn’t answer my question about why what you quoted would be bad news. It’s not explained. Why do YOU think it’s bad news that some of the Eemian ice melt came from Antarctic ice?

          • no Ron – “my” quote is a quote of something I said. I did not say these things -others did and I put quotes around them to show that – they are not my words… but the words of the folks who were involved in the study.

            how else should it have been done?

            do you have a real complaint here or just making trouble as usual?

          • In other words, Larry, if you thought something was important enough to quote here in a comment, maybe you could explain what it means, and why you think it’s important. That’s all I ask.

          • re: ” maybe you could explain what it means, and why you think it’s important. That’s all I ask.”

            I thought the quotes from the person involved in the study were sufficient to see that the cherry-picked portion was not the full – accurate – context.

            I just added the rest of the statement.

          • no Ron – “my” quote is a quote of something I said. I did not say these things -others did and I put quotes around them to show that – they are not my words… but the words of the folks who were involved in the study.

            Quoting: Another thing in a long list of things Larry is confused about. The mind boggles. Notice the “quote” above. It is my quote of you. They aren’t my words, but yours. I am quoting you, and it’s my quote. People seldom quote themselves.

            Don’t tell me the notion of first, second and third person confuses you.

          • I thought the quotes from the person involved in the study were sufficient to see that the cherry-picked portion was not the full – accurate – context.

            I just added the rest of the statement.

            I can only assume you are unable to answer the simple question about the bad news. It seemed simple enough, but I sometimes forget who I’m dealing with. Your quotes of other people fooled me into thinking your comments contained something worth responding to, but I see I was wrong.

  1. there are lots of statistics that can and are “interpreted” in different ways but perhaps one that might best summarize is the dollar cost and insurance rates.

    http://www.nola.com/environment/index.ssf/2013/03/dramatic_flood_insurance_incre.html

    they have a simple, non-ideological agenda – “are we collecting enough in premiums to pay off damages – make a profit, not go broke”?

    Now FEMA has been reformed (by Congress) to be self-sustaining…and insurance availability is starting to drive where people will build (or not) and what they build in terms of resistance to storms.

    they’ve already weighed in on hurricanes. Many are getting out of that market if they can and the FEMA subsidized insurance is going to skyrocket… and the FEMA flood maps now require people to lift their homes above the base flood zone or pay 30-40K a year to insure.

    so – will it cost more or less in the future to build and insure homes that are more resistant to storms, wind, flood, etc?

    and if it costs more for insurance and building – is that a drag on overall productivity or is it just spending for something different? stronger homes vs newer autos?

  2. There is (obviously, from the graph) a lot of variability in tornado formation. It would be more illuminating to define a broader range of “extreme weather events” and track that graph, or to look a a larger number of separate phenomena (hurricanes, floods, etc.) over time. But the real thing to remember is that weather is not climate.

  3. A Compilation of News Articles on the Global Cooling Scare of the 1970′s, The Patriot Post

    1.) 1970 – Colder Winters Held Dawn of New Ice Age – Scientists See Ice Age In the Future (The Washington Post, January 11, 1970)
    2.) 1970 – Is Mankind Manufacturing a New Ice Age for Itself? (L.A. Times, January 15, 1970)
    3.) 1970 – New Ice Age May Descend On Man (Sumter Daily Item, January 26, 1970)
    4.) 1970 – Pollution Prospect A Chilling One (Owosso Argus-Press, January 26, 1970)
    5.) 1970 – Pollution’s 2-way ‘Freeze’ On Society (Middlesboro Daily News, January 28, 1970)
    6.) 1970 – Cold Facts About Pollution (The Southeast Missourian, January 29, 1970)
    7.) 1970 – Pollution Could Cause Ice Age, Agency Reports (St. Petersburg Times, March 4, 1970)
    8.) 1970 – Pollution Called Ice Age Threat (St. Petersburg Times, June 26, 1970)
    9.) 1970 – Dirt Will .Bring New Ice Age (The Sydney Morning Herald, October 19, 1970)
    10.) 1971 – Ice Age Refugee Dies Underground (The Montreal Gazette, Febuary 17, 1971)
    11.) 1971 – U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming (The Washington Post, July 9, 1971)
    12.) 1971 – Ice Age Around the Corner (Chicago Tribune, July 10, 1971)
    13.) 1971 – New Ice Age Coming – It’s Already Getting Colder (L.A. Times, October 24, 1971)
    14.) 1971 – Another Ice Age? Pollution Blocking Sunlight (The Day, November 1, 1971)
    15.) 1971 – Air Pollution Could Bring An Ice Age (Harlan Daily Enterprise, November 4, 1971)
    16.) 1972 – Air pollution may cause ice age (Free-Lance Star, February 3, 1972)
    17.) 1972 – Scientist Says New ice Age Coming (The Ledger, February 13, 1972)
    18.) 1972 – Scientist predicts new ice age (Free-Lance Star, September 11, 1972)
    19.) 1972 – British expert on Climate Change says Says New Ice Age Creeping Over Northern Hemisphere (Lewiston Evening Journal, September 11, 1972)
    20.) 1972 – Climate Seen Cooling For Return Of Ice Age (Portsmouth Times, ‎September 11, 1972‎)
    21.) 1972 – New Ice Age Slipping Over North (Press-Courier, September 11, 1972)
    22.) 1972 – Ice Age Begins A New Assault In North (The Age, September 12, 1972)
    23.) 1972 – Weather To Get Colder (Montreal Gazette, ‎September 12, 1972‎)
    24.) 1972 – British climate expert predicts new Ice Age (The Christian Science Monitor, September 23, 1972)
    25.) 1972 – Scientist Sees Chilling Signs of New Ice Age (L.A. Times, September 24, 1972)
    26.) 1972 – Science: Another Ice Age? (Time Magazine, November 13, 1972)
    27.) 1973 – The Ice Age Cometh (The Saturday Review, March 24, 1973)
    28.) 1973 – Weather-watchers think another ice age may be on the way (The Christian Science Monitor, December 11, 1973)
    29.) 1974 – New evidence indicates ice age here (Eugene Register-Guard, May 29, 1974)
    30.) 1974 – Another Ice Age? (Time Magazine, June 24, 1974)
    31.) 1974 – 2 Scientists Think ‘Little’ Ice Age Near (The Hartford Courant, August 11, 1974)
    32.) 1974 – Ice Age, worse food crisis seen (The Chicago Tribune, October 30, 1974)
    33.) 1974 – Believes Pollution Could Bring On Ice Age (Ludington Daily News, December 4, 1974)
    34.) 1974 – Pollution Could Spur Ice Age, Nasa Says (Beaver Country Times, ‎December 4, 1974‎)
    35.) 1974 – Air Pollution May Trigger Ice Age, Scientists Feel (The Telegraph, ‎December 5, 1974‎)
    36.) 1974 – More Air Pollution Could Trigger Ice Age Disaster (Daily Sentinel – ‎December 5, 1974‎)
    37.) 1974 – Scientists Fear Smog Could Cause Ice Age (Milwaukee Journal, December 5, 1974)
    38.) 1975 – Climate Changes Called Ominous (The New York Times, January 19, 1975)
    39.) 1975 – Climate Change: Chilling Possibilities (Science News, March 1, 1975)
    40.) 1975 – B-r-r-r-r: New Ice Age on way soon? (The Chicago Tribune, March 2, 1975)
    41.) 1975 – Cooling Trends Arouse Fear That New Ice Age Coming (Eugene Register-Guard, ‎March 2, 1975‎)
    42.) 1975 – Is Another Ice Age Due? Arctic Ice Expands In Last Decade (Youngstown Vindicator – ‎March 2, 1975‎)
    43.) 1975 – Is Earth Headed For Another Ice Age? (Reading Eagle, March 2, 1975)
    44.) 1975 – New Ice Age Dawning? Significant Shift In Climate Seen (Times Daily, ‎March 2, 1975‎)
    45.) 1975 – There’s Troublesome Weather Ahead (Tri City Herald, ‎March 2, 1975‎)
    46.) 1975 – Is Earth Doomed To Live Through Another Ice Age? (The Robesonian, ‎March 3, 1975‎)
    47.) 1975 – The Ice Age cometh: the system that controls our climate (The Chicago Tribune, April 13, 1975)
    48.) 1975 – The Cooling World (Newsweek, April 28, 1975)
    49.) 1975 – Scientists Ask Why World Climate Is Changing; Major Cooling May Be Ahead (PDF) (The New York Times, May 21, 1975)
    50.) 1975 – In the Grip of a New Ice Age? (International Wildlife, July-August, 1975)
    51.) 1975 – Oil Spill Could Cause New Ice Age (Milwaukee Journal, December 11, 1975)
    52.) 1976 – The Cooling: Has the Next Ice Age Already Begun? [Book] (Lowell Ponte, 1976)
    53.) 1977 – Blizzard – What Happens if it Doesn’t Stop? [Book] (George Stone, 1977)
    54.) 1977 – The Weather Conspiracy: The Coming of the New Ice Age [Book] (The Impact Team, 1977)
    55.) 1976 – Worrisome CIA Report; Even U.S. Farms May be Hit by Cooling Trend (U.S. News & World Report, May 31, 1976)
    1977 – The Big Freeze (Time Magazine, January 31, 1977)
    56.) 1977 – We Will Freeze in the Dark (Capital Cities Communications Documentary, Host: Nancy Dickerson, April 12, 1977)
    57.) 1978 – The New Ice Age [Book] (Henry Gilfond, 1978)
    58.) 1978 – Little Ice Age: Severe winters and cool summers ahead (Calgary Herald, January 10, 1978)
    59.) 1978 – Winters Will Get Colder, ‘we’re Entering Little Ice Age’ (Ellensburg Daily Record, January 10, 1978)
    60.) 1978 – Geologist Says Winters Getting Colder (Middlesboro Daily News, January 16, 1978)
    61.) 1978 – It’s Going To Get Colder (Boca Raton News, ‎January 17, 1978‎)
    62.) 1978 – Believe new ice age is coming (The Bryan Times, March 31, 1978)
    63.) 1978 – The Coming Ice Age (In Search Of TV Show, Season 2, Episode 23, Host: Leonard Nimoy, May 1978)
    64.) 1978 – An Ice Age Is Coming Weather Expert Fears (Milwaukee Sentinel, November 17, 1978)
    65.) 1979 – A Choice of Catastrophes – The Disasters That Threaten Our World [Book] (Isaac Asimov, 1979)
    66.) 1979 – Get Ready to Freeze (Spokane Daily Chronicle, October 12, 1979)
    67.) 1979 – New ice age almost upon us? (The Christian Science Monitor, November 14, 1979)

    (Links to articles at site)

    Not a complete list, I am sure. But it does give evidence of nearly a decade of fraudulent leftist climate hysteria.

    Let’s just call it what it is – a religion. We must all atone and agree to end our evil capitalist ways or Gaia will reek a just and awful vengeance on humanity. How are these people any less deserving of mockery than the fringe religious group that insists the world will end tomorrow afternoon?

    • che-

      i have often thought the same thing.

      this is basically a secular retelling of the eden story.

      the world was once perfect and wonderful and then man screwed it up, got tossed out of the garden, and now we must atone for our sin.

      it’s a pervasive aspect of human psychology so it keeps finding ways to manifest itself. joseph cambell would have a field day with this.

      the odd part is that we have somehow chosen the 1400-1850′s as the edenic period, when, in fact, the little ice age was a rotten time for humanity characterized by short summers and growing seasons and far more extreme weather than we have today.

      by any objective measure, the climate was far better for life in 1200-1300 or during the roman period than it was in 1400-1850 or even now.

      if we really want to get “back into the garden” it would seem that what we want is some warming.

      a great deal of these recent cycles has been driven by the pacific decadal oscillation, which is the largest climate feature on earth. this system of currents has a warm mode and a cold mode. each lasts around 30 years.

      the 70′s had a “global cooling” panic because the pdo had been cold for a long time. it shifted to warm in 1976. it shifted back to cold in about 2008.

      http://icecap.us/images/uploads/BAST1.png

      these inflections are quite clear in the temperature data and the correlation is quite strong as opposed to co2 which shows very low correlation.

      i think the smart money is on the world being colder 20 years from now, not warmer.

      • if we really want to get “back into the garden” it would seem that what we want is some warming.

        Indeed. Most accounts indicate that the people living in the Garden wore no clothes. So either the climate was quite warm, or the knowledge of good and evil includes the knowledge of hot and cold.

      • i think the smart money is on the world being colder 20 years from now, not warmer.

        Yeah, too bad about Intrade.

        • well, there are lots of ways to play that including buying up farmland in the tropics which a number of funds i know of are doing.

          • That’s really interesting. I wonder if Gavin Schmidt has any holdings in funds like these?

      • morganovich

        the odd part is that we have somehow chosen the 1400-1850′s as the edenic period, when, in fact, the little ice age was a rotten time for humanity characterized by short summers and growing seasons and far more extreme weather than we have today.

        Not so odd when you consider that no other starting point shows enough contrast with current temps to show any warming.

    • One can’t help but notice that most of the alarm over cooling temps occurred after at least 30 years of cooling, when cooling had stopped and warming had begun, and most recent incitements to panic come after at least 30 years of warming, when it appears that warming has stopped and cooling has begun.

      So much for predictions of future climate.

  4. Mark,

    There’s just one small, inconvenient problem with making a connection between climate change and an increasing frequency of violent tornadoes – the link doesn’t actually exist.

    You’re missing the point all together. “They seem to be bigger and more intense” (emphasis added). Don’t confuse everyone with your fancy regression! Otherwise, people will have to admit that their perceptions don’t line up with reality, which of course can’t be the case for the “reality based” left, as LarryG so ably demonstrates above.

    • well.. insurance rates are not “perceptions” and in fact they trump all perceptions as they do reflect the reality of real damages and pay outs.

      there’s a lot of different ways to “measure” and to “interpret” (and I DO AGREE that weather is NOT climate) but monetizing it cuts to the chase IMHO.

      • insurance rates are not “reality” either.

        they are projections.

        if an industry finds a great marketing meme like “global warming means you need to pay more” why wouldn’t they use it to try to raise prices?

        insurers do things like this all the time.

        why do you think buffet wants higher cap gains taxes?

        to sell life insurance.

        property insurers WANT you to see the risks to your property as higher than they are. that’s how they get lower loss ratios and higher profits.

        your notion that they “trump all perceptions” and “reflect the reality of real damages and pay outs” is simply false.

        you are assuming that loss ratios remain constant.

        you are also leaving out half the equation.

        the loss to an insurer is based upon not just the frequency of loss but also on the value of the property destroyed.

        if that value rises faster than frequency falls, then dollar costs can go up even if the number of disasters falls.

      • Insurance rates are also based on the value of things. Since humans have been getting richer year by year, it’s no surprise that the same size tornado/hurricane/whatever, or even weaker, will cause more damage, insurance wise, than before. Yet, it is obvious this has nothing to do with climate change and everything to do with the fact that we are richer, i.e., better off, today than yesterday. Being richer, also, means having more tools at hand to deal with these disasters than before.

        It’s like you don’t understand economics and growth.

        • Further the area where homes and structures have been built has increased greatly since the 1960s in particluar if you look around OK city, and had ariel photos in 1960 and today the area that is not rural farmland would have greatly increased. So if you make the simplifing assumption that all land within some radius has a x% chance of getting hit by and ef-4 or 5, then if a larger part of that area is built up the percentage of damage will increase. (Of course the same is true of building on the coast and hurricanes) So insurance rates also reflect the increasing exposure in this fashion if the odds of significant damage from an event increase because there are more structures that are in the way, then the rates will also increase.
          Tornadoes are a natural phenomenon that the law of large number works with. As an example if the Joplin storm had been 10 miles further south it would not have had nearly the impact. Of course the further east one goes the less this arguement works as the overall population density increases.

      • For example, the insurance rate on my 2005 Toyota Matrix is far less than what my insurance rate would be if I owned a 2013 Lamborghini Veneno. I know this might be shocking to you, since it has absolutely nothing to do with climate change.

          • Do you have full thoughts or just little bits of things jumbling around randomly thrown together that you mistake for full thoughts?

          • re: insurance rates and competition

            do insurance companies just drive up rates because they think they can do it because of misguided fears of potential customers about storm frequency and intensity or do multiple insurance companies actually compete on rates such that unjustified high rates get punished?

            most folks when they buy insurance, do shop around a bit and usually go for the lower priced policies as long as they do have the desired coverage.

            better?

          • it also would seem to be related to population levels and population density.

            if there are now 10 houses where there use to be 3, that’s going to tip the equation a great deal.

          • larry-

            that cuts both ways. if customers believe that risks are higher, then they are willing to pay higher rates/see more value in a given policy.

            thus, it would seem to be in the interest of insurers to propagate such stories to increase demand.

            if i were a home insurer, i would be very interested in supporting stories about increases in extreme weather.

            it’s good for business.

            you fear is my profit.

            the evidence that extreme weather is lower, not higher, is conclusive and widespread, but this data is not well understood by consumers.

            price is based on perception, not reality.

            in many markets, price winds up being a contrary indicator to reality.

            puts spike in price right before rallies and tend to be very cheap right at market tops.

            reality ultimately sets in, but fear (or lack thereof) drives price in the short run.

          • re: more houses … true

            re: competition vs convincing people that extreme weather warrants higher prices…

            I still think competition is in play especially for people who already have insurance and see rate increases.

            re: the data

            you’d have to normalize the data to correct for inflation and perhaps other factors but the cost of insurance per square foot – over time might reveal insurance costs over time.

            clearly major changes have occurred in the last few years with respect to hurricanes and flooding.

            the cost per square foot – likely has increased especially for structures near the ocean and low lying flood-prone areas.

            we know, for instance also, that the frequency of 100-year floods has increased and that flood maps are now expanded and showing greater risk of flood….

            flood maps in NJ have just been updated and insurance costs for homes that are now included in the expanded maps – has skyrocketed.

            this is not someone’s “interpretation” of data – it’s real.

          • also worth taking into account:

            insurance companies rely upon investment income for a great deal of their profitability.

            they tend to hold bond portfolios as equities fluctuate too much.

            with yields this low, returns are low. this puts upward pressure on rates.

            i think you are looking at the drivers or rates much too simplistically.

            it is not just driven by loss ratios.

            to my knowledge, there is no evidence that recent frequency of losses is in any way unusual.

          • better?

            No.

            I guess you don’t understand that insurance is based on expected payout based on expected loss of value. Did you really not understand my example that insurance for a 2005 Toyota Matrix is less than insurance on a 2013 Lamborghini Veneno, even if the expected frequency of collisions and intensity of collisions is the same or even less for the Lamborghini?Can you really be this stupid?

            do insurance companies just drive up rates because they think they can do it because of misguided fears of potential customers about storm frequency and intensity (emphasis added)

            Are you really claiming that the only two variables in computing insurance premiums are storm freqency and intensity? Can you really be this stupid?

            I don’t know why I’m so surprised, but this seems especially stupid, even for you, Larry.

          • we know, for instance also, that the frequency of 100-year floods has increased and that flood maps are now expanded and showing greater risk of flood….

            huh?

            and just how do we know that?

            damage per flood may have risen due to more insurance and more riskily sited homes, but the actual floods, i’m not so sure.

            this argues otherwise:

            “The abrupt changes in flood peaks can be associated with anthropogenic changes, such as changes in land use/land cover, agricultural practice, and construction of dams. The trend analyses do not suggest an increase in the flood peak distribution due to anthropogenic climate change. Examination of the upper tail and scaling properties of the flood peak distributions are examined by means of the location, scale, and shape parameters of the Generalized Extreme Value distribution.”

            http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1752-1688.2011.00540.x/abstract

            and even if it were the case, how can we attribute cause? is it bad engineering, land use, water re routing, stripping of vegetation, or what? again, the journals seem to be attributing any increases to land use, not AGW which they explicitly discount.

          • I do not attribute the increase in frequency of 100-year floods to climate change.

            Part of it is due to increased land development – clearing of land, creation of more impervious surfaces.

            more than one – one hundred year occurrence of a 100-year flood can occur and it takes several to cause a readjustment in the prediction but insurance companies keep their own records and they know when they are paying out a lot more in claims than they used to – are a geographical basis and this is why many will no longer cover flood-prone land and FEMA does it via the national flood insurance program.

            but this is getting beyond the original premise which I opined that…

            there are other ways to measure and disagree about the effects of climate change…

            and monetization may be one way … but yes.. the data will have to be normalized if it is to make any sense.

          • larry-

            “but this is getting beyond the original premise which I opined that…

            there are other ways to measure and disagree about the effects of climate change…”

            then why did you bring it up?

            you are the one citing floods, now you are saying it has nothing to do with climate change.

            so why go off topic?

            the main issue still stands that the best way to gauge changes in extreme weather is to look at how much of it is occurring.

            using insurance as a proxy likely occludes more than it reveals. there are too many other factors that drive price.

            if we look at number of severe storms and tornadoes, the number is down, not up.

            why do we need to look beyond the the actual frequency of occurrence of something and try to use some convoluted proxy for it when we have the actual data?

            that’s like trying to use population demographics to try to guess how many kids are on a schoolbus when you have already counted them.

            this is not some clever different interpretation , it’s a way to use obfuscation and estimation to avoid hard facts that are already in evidence.

          • re: ” then why did you bring it up?”

            because one way to get beyond the “bad science” argument on climate change is to deal with money.

            floods have a link IMHO, because recently two important things happened:

            1. -Congress changed the FEMA flood insurance program to be self-sustaining and not require general funds.

            2. – FEMA has redrawn flood maps based on newer data about the likelihood of flooding – and the impacts – and as a result the cost of flood insurance is going to double even triple for some.

            you could argue til the cows come home about the flooding … and it’s causes – have competing studies, accuse people of manipulating data, etc..

            but when you make it a money proposition – all of that goes away and it gets down to what the actual loss experience is – money-wise – and what it will take in the way of premiums to sustain insurance coverage.

            the 100-year, 500-year flood is data driven from experience and it is what is used to help draw the new FEMA flood maps.

            in the end.. that’s a large part of what the GW argument is about… what it will cost to deal with it – IF it is true.

            right?

          • Ken – STFU you idiot.

            As stated before, I’d be angry too if someone way smarter than me constantly pointed out the silliness of my argument.

            Let me know when you understand that other things besides frequency and intensity of storms determine insurance premiums:-)

          • larry-

            “right?”

            no. wrong.

            insurance pricing and the value of damage done by disasters is far to complex and multi factor and issue to use as a proxy for disaster frequency.

            you are trying to take a very noisy signal and use it to tease out a specific subcomponent.

            not only is such an analysis unlikely to yield meaningful results, but is it unnecessary as we already have the actual data on storms.

            why go through all these convolutions to get at data we already have from direct measurement?

            to go even further, your price assumptions are fatally flawed. if fema is going to be self sustaining, of course prices need to rise. they were selling too cheaply before.

            the new maps do not say ANYTHING about a change in frequency, just a change in the pricing assumptions.

            further, it means nada in terms of global warming, as the causes of floods are not attributable to it.

            you are making a fallacious set of assumptive jumps.

            just because insurance prices rise does not mean disaster frequency rose.

            just because disaster costs rise does not mean frequency rose.

            even if frequency rises, it says nothing about why it rose and the evidence there is strongly anti global warming.

            so you seem wrong at every jump here.

            you are trying to use a bad proxy to contradict actual hard data and making all manner of unsupportable assumptions to do so.

          • larry-

            “I do not attribute the increase in frequency of 100-year floods to climate change.”

            “but when you make it a money proposition – all of that goes away and it gets down to what the actual loss experience is – money-wise – and what it will take in the way of premiums to sustain insurance coverage.”

            “in the end.. that’s a large part of what the GW argument is about… what it will cost to deal with i”

            do you not see that these things are contradictory?

            you are using premium changes in insurance for something you do not attribute to agw to gauge the cost of agw.

            this seems sufficiently inconsistent that i am left wondering what you are even trying to say here and why you think this topic is of any use to the discussion.

          • re” you are using premium changes in insurance for something you do not attribute to agw to gauge the cost of agw.”

            losses….. dollar value of losses… which result in premium increases ….later…in response to loss experience.

            “this seems sufficiently inconsistent that i am left wondering what you are even trying to say here and why you think this topic is of any use to the discussion.”

            I’m saying that if there are more intense weather occurring at higher frequencies, you’d likely see more damage – ergo higher dollar costs….

            you know – like when they categorize a hurricane not in terms of size or strength or other factors but in the amount of damage caused.

            dollar costs have some value in assessing whether storms overall (aggregating all physical factors) are causing more damage than before.

            For instance, Sandy was not a Cat 5 storm but it caused immense damage.

            comparisons like this:

            http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=sandy-vs-katrina-and-irene

          • do insurance companies just drive up rates because they think they can do it because of misguided fears of potential customers about storm frequency and intensity or do multiple insurance companies actually compete on rates such that unjustified high rates get punished?

            – Writes Larry, forming what is nearly a complete thought, but sadly enough, not a respond to Ken’s point about value – while at the same time confirming Ken’s belief that Larry doesn’t understand economics and growth.

          • ken – blah blah blah oops confused mouth with anus

            Ron – blah blah blah – no problem… works just as good!

            ;-)

          • Ha! You are truly special. Your argument is as follows:

            Who cares what the actual and direct measurements are of intensity and frequency of storms? The only real way to tell if storm frequency and intensity are increasing is using an indirect measurement, like insurance premiums. After all, we all know that only storm frequency and intensity are used to calculate insurance premiums. Actual frequency counts and direct measurements are completely irrelevant to the discussion of frequency and intensity of storms.

            Keep up the good work!! It’s nice to see that a special needs person can operate a computer well enough to add a comment to a blog.

          • I’m saying that if there are more intense weather occurring at higher frequencies, you’d likely see more damage – ergo higher dollar costs….

            Of course, but that’s obvious and not worth mentioning, and the reverse isn’t true. Higher dollar costs don’t necessarily indicate more frequent or more intense storms.

            In fact – as morganovich keeps patiently pointing out to you, you don’t need to try to measure frequency and intensity using dollar costs, because we already know exactly how frequent and how intense storms and floods have been in the recent past, and they are NOT more frequent or intense, so since dollar cost HAS increased, it CAN’T be a good proxy.

            Your dishonesty is offensive.

          • I still think competition is in play especially for people who already have insurance and see rate increases.

            So you believe insurers compete to see who can charge the highest price?

          • larry-

            you are still trying to use factors that are complex and based on a large number of inputs to try and stand for just one of those inputs.

            this is meaningless analysis and a pointless one as well as we already have data on the intensity of storms and tornadoes.

            if you have the exact same storms, but more and more expensive homes, you get more monetary damage.

            if you have the same storms and the same homes but lower interest rates, you get higher insurance premiums.

            you cannot use either insurance costs or monetary damage from storms to evaluate storm frequency and intensity in any reliable way.

            why this bizarre fixation on ignoring actual data on storms to try to back into the same data using a bad proxy?

          • Morg – a simple GOOGLE search for “insurance companies” and “climate change” should help you understand that these are not my beliefs alone.

            Unlike arguments about science and the interpretation of science, insurance companies do deal with real money and while it is complex the bottom line is – if their payouts end up higher than they initially calculated, they will take appropriate action with premiums and coverage.

            Of the two – arguments about science, especially done by “amaetur armchair scientists” and what insurance do – that is fact… not conjecture… I’ll put my money with the insurance companies and it’s fairly easy to determine how insurance companies feel about GW these days.

            Even the DOD is looking at their military ports to see how they will be impacted is oceans do rise – as predicted.

            that’s a money issue also.

            I know you have this problem with the concept of insurance anyhow given previous discussions about zipcar and related.

            we don’t agree. that’s fine. I agree with the insurance companies, you don’t. that’s fine. but don’t try to paint a picture different from the reality and the reality is that insurance companies DO have opinions about this subject also.

          • LarryG, you seem to have absolutely no idea about logic, do you?

            If it is the case that B always follows A, then there is no logic in saying that A always follows B also. You cannot make that statement.

            But logic obviously means very little to you so you insist on saying that since insurance companies will always raise premiums if intense tornadoes cause higher dollar damages (which most here agree with), you conclude that higher insurance premiums mean that we have had a lot more intense tornadoes. There is no logic to that conclusion.

            Lets go over this again for you: If it is the case that B follows A, then it is not necessarily the case that A follows B.

          • I’ll dialogue on the merits but I will ignore the Ad Hominems.

            having folks in this group “lecture” on “logic” is one of the more amusing things.. though…

            and just to correct the idiocy – I never said that insurance companies ALWAYS do anything at all.

            What I said that insurance companies make decisions based on monetary issues… and that if their loss experience goes up, they adapt their prices to compensate … and that the data about how much they pay out is more factual than people playing armchair scientist with climate data.

            if you want to discuss the merits of this fine but if all you want to hurl ad hominems then go talk to yourself.

          • “and that the data about how much they pay out is more factual than people playing armchair scientist with climate data.”

            No LarryG, A does not necessarily follow B. My comment about your logic is proven by the above.

          • you’re arguing that what the insurance companies do is less legitimate than armchair science?

            ;-)

            that’s your “logic”?

            ;-)

          • no larry, you are still missing the whole argument here.

            of course insurers want to get you worried about warming to get you to buy more insurance.

            media outlets also like to run scare stories.

            but you keep ducking the key issue here:

            we have direct, reliable data on storm frequency and severity.

            it shows that storms are decreasing, not increasing.

            this is not “interpretation”. it’s empirical data.

            are you seriously doubting that in today’s ear of satellites, we cannot count and measure storms?

            you just keep mistaking marketing for fact.

            oh, and of course, the DoD would NEVER trump up an excuse to ask for a bigger budget.

            i’m not really sure how to get through to you here:

            if you count and measure storms, you know what is happening with storms.

            that’s how you track anyhting.

            your argument is the equivalent of using average car payment to try to determine the number of cars sold.

          • if you count and measure storms, you know what is happening with storms.

            that’s how you track anything”

            yes.. until you get folks saying that the tracking data is wrong, corrupt, biased, etc… or you have folks choosing
            to look at all data they want to look at.

            there are continuing issues about which data and what you believe. one side believes NOAA and the other side says NOAA is part of a global conspiracy and NOAA is corrupting the data.

            “your argument is the equivalent of using average car payment to try to determine the number of cars sold.”

            no. I understand and realize that you cannot use raw data for the insurance but I do believe that if the data is normalized to adjust for factors like inflation that you cn get data – like number of payouts per number of storms and average payout, etc…

            I do not think that – that data alone is 100% deterministic but if one set of data says more storms and another set agrees and shows higher payouts – then they start to validate each other.

            that’s opposed to people basically arguing over scientific data – of which even highly trained scientists themselves will not agree on .. – and that’s what leads some to ask what the consensus is – what do most scientists believe …

            insurance payouts are not “beliefs” they are real.

            here’s an example of real costs:

            http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/29/nyregion/cost-of-coastal-living-to-climb-under-new-flood-rules.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&amp;

          • and this:

            “you’re arguing that what the insurance companies do is less legitimate than armchair science?”

            is quite literally absurd.

            not only is it false, but it’s basic premise is ridiculous as well.

            this is not armchair science.

            this is data from the noaa, the us experts on weather.

            i have yet to hear a single credible argument that their data on tornadoes and hurricanes is incorrect.

            we do not even need to discuss agw and whether it’s real for this conversation, just the storm count.

            even if we accept agw as correct, it has not caused more storms.

            you then try to take a very noising signal like insurance prices, and use it to stand for one small part of that signal.

            once more lar, i am dazzled by your seeming imperviousness to basic logic.

            your whole argument keeps boiling down to one thing:

            we have good data on storms but you refuse to accept it and keep trying to use a noisy, invalid proxy instead.

            so let’s make this very simple:

            the noaa etc provide data on storm count and severity.

            are you trying to claim that this data is invalid? if so, why?

            and doesn’t that make you the one trying to be an armchair scientist in a field about you know pretty much nothing?

            if you accept that data, then how can you even try to put forward the rest of this argument?

            storms are down, but you claim that they are up?

            just because they do more monetary damage says NOTHING about their frequency and severity. it’s a function of where people live, what their homes are worth, how many are insured, and a host of other factors.

          • re: ” this is data from the noaa, the us experts on weather.

            i have yet to hear a single credible argument that their data on tornadoes and hurricanes is incorrect.”

            I think their data is correct. Did I say it was not?

            I think normalized insurance data is also useful and would tend to validate the NOAA information – and that might be one way to correlate insurance payouts with frequency/severity.

            but I also think the recent experience related by the NYT for flooding in NY is correct:

            http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/29/nyregion/cost-of-coastal-living-to-climb-under-new-flood-rules.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&amp;

            I even buy the idea that insurance companies will try to “use” disasters to boost their prices – but I also believe that competition tends to work things the other way.

            there is no question that insurance companies are leaving the coastal areas all together and/or dramatically increasing premiums – to the point where the govt is the only one offering insurance –

            which I’m quite sure you believe is bad thing – and I would agree with you.

            I just tend to believe that insurance companies are more grounded in economics than science might be.

            People that actually provide insurance have to be a lot more careful about their beliefs vs their actual experience whereas with science now days, it’s a virtual data food fight between those who believe GW is real (which includes NOAA) and the skeptics who only believe NOAA when the data supports their beliefs but not when it contradicts their beliefs.

            I believe NOAA most of the time…. but I also believe the insurance companies and when NOAA and the insurance companies tend to validate each other than I consider that fairly strong evidence.

          • btw lar, givemefreedom has you dead to rights here.

            if a then b does not mean that if b, then a.

            let’s take a very simple example:

            if it rains, people go inside.

            but people going inside tells you NOTHING about if it is raining. they could do it for dozens of reasons.

            your entire argument is “people went inside, so it is raining”.

            once more, i seem to have gotten mired in attempting to make increasingly logical arguments to someone who simply is not able to think logically.

            it appears to be as futile as ever.

            given your demonstrated belief in democracy, consensus, and looking at what others do to make choices, perhaps you should ask yourself this:

            if so many people keep calling you out on bad/nonexistent logic (and they do), then has it occurred to you that they might be onto somehting?

            what, is it a conspiracy?

            just on this thread, you have what, 4 people doing this?

            what would it take to get you to examine the possibility that you really are making elementary and obvious provable logical errors?

            i’m sure this comes off like ad hominem, but it’s not.

            it’s an assessment of your argument style and thought process.

            for a guy who so frequently argues from “consensus” you sure seem unwilling to accept it here.

          • re: ” it’s an assessment of your argument style and thought process.”

            no it’s not Morg. I’ve been here long enough to see you interact with others guy and there is a pattern here with how you do it…

            when I’m not around, you find others to tangle with – using the same basic arguments about their “logic”.

            be honest guy.. you do this… (and you are not the only one).

            you guys chew on each other in the same way – frequently.

          • oh, and that NYT article does not back your argument, it backs mine.

            insurers took a big hit on damages. it says NOTHING about why.

            as a result, they are going to increase premiums because they have discovered that their actuarial tables underestimated risk and to recoup losses they have incurred.

            did you even read it?

            “Because private insurers rarely provide flood insurance, the program has been run by the federal government, which kept rates artificially low under pressure from the real estate industry and other groups”

            flood areas were determined by political lobbying, not risk, and government programs charged premiums that were far too low to cover actual risk.

            that’s what the article is about, not storm severity.

            you have just provided data that contradicts your own argument. did you even notice?

          • have a good one Morg… we disagree. I respect your views but you cannot seem to dialog without impugning .. and not just me…. you guys do this to each other … I’ve watched you do it.

            you guys are like grade school kids.

          • if you want to discuss the merits of this fine but if all you want to hurl ad hominems then go talk to yourself.

            Your arguments have no merit, Larry, that’s the point. You are claiming that if A can cause B, then measuring B is a good way to measure A, and that’s just really poor logic – in which case GMF’s statement about your lack of logical ability is correct, not ad-hom.

            On the subject of storm intensity and frequency we already have accurate data based on direct observation, so inferring A by measuring B is not only wrong, but unnecessary.

            Your persistence on this is very dishonest. You are a liar as well as feeble minded.

          • larry-

            chocolate is better than vanilla is an opinion.

            4% return at low volatility is better than 6% with high volatility is an opinion.

            2+2 = 4 is a fact.

            if a then b not meaning that if b then a is also a fact.

            this is where you are getting so muddled.

            you seem to think logic is an opinion.

            it’s not.

            believing something that is provably false is not a basis for a valid opinion that others should respect.

            your repeated need to do so is why we all get so fed up with you.

            seriously, how would you deal with someone who just kept repeating 2+2 =5 over and over and demanding respect for their opinion?

          • oh, and larry, sure, you are not the only one who uses bad logic. but what is it you think my pointing it out in others demonstrates?

            bad logic is bad logic. describing it as such is called “accuracy”.

            is this just another of your appeal to practice fallacies?

            what, because i point out bad logic used by someone else, it means your logic is good?

            the thing about logic is it’s provable.

            a statement is either logically valid, or it’s not.

            you are arguing that if a, b, therefore because b, a.

            that is a provably false statement.

            what is it about that that you find so difficult to grasp?

          • Larry.

            I think their data is correct. Did I say it was not?

            If you believe NOAA data is correct, and NOAA data indicates fewer and less intense storms since satellite data has been available, something that is not being questioned by anyone, then what is your argument about more frequent and intense storms based on? Insurance premiums and claims have NOT moved in the same direction as NOAA data.

  5. What caused such a large and powerful tornado?

    It seems like several factors come together on the U.S. Plains for the biggest twisters. There are wind shears, air moisture and the collision of cold and warm fronts.

    Also, the Jetstream is a major influence. Look at this Jetstream movement above Oklahoma before, during and after the terrible May, 20th tornado.

    And then look at the NOAA Space Weather Alerts and Warnings for Geomagnetic activity during the same time.

    This last terrible tornado in Moore, OK might have had extra factors to make it so powerful.

    I wonder if increased geomagnetic activity fed the tornado build-up and/or influenced the Jetstream coming so far down south?

    • Cit

      This last terrible tornado in Moore, OK might have had extra factors to make it so powerful.

      It turns out that the recent tornado in Moore, OK isn’t really unusual at all. and that Moore seems to be the tornado capitol of the world, with devastating twisters in 1999, and 2003 and the one this month, and less damaging ones in 1998 and 2010.

      I can only imagine that folks who live there also enjoy picking up a revolver, spinning the chamber, aiming it at their head, then pulling the trigger.

      And this:

      After hundreds of years, and thousands of lives lost, this year’s award winner for the best ever example of both ‘too little too late’ and “closing barn door after the horse bolts’ is Moore, OK mayor Glenn Lewis, who recommends forcing Moore residents to build shelters, even though many haven’t chosen to do so before now.

      As always our dear leaders say they know what is best for us.

      • Ron, this most recent Moore tornado was particularly powerful, hence my wondering if additional factors were of influence. Did you see the graphic of the Jetstream passing over Oklahoma when the latest hit, and the Space Weather alerts and warning for May 20th?

        • Cit, yes it has been described as an F5, but is neither the largest, strongest, widest, most destructive, or deadliest tornado ever. In fact the 1999 tornado that struck Moore, OK was more powerful. I didn’t see the graphic of the jet stream nor weather alerts for May 20, although I’ve seen plenty of video showing the jet stream and it’s effect on tornado formation.

          • Ron, I think the Jetstream could have been pushed down south, bringing a cold front, by increased solar activity.

            I linked to a Jetstream GIF and Space Weather alerts above. Take a look. It is very unusual for the Jetstream to be that far south, especially in the Spring.

          • I linked to a Jetstream GIF and Space Weather alerts above. Take a look. It is very unusual for the Jetstream to be that far south, especially in the Spring.

            I see what you mean. You may be right. I don’t have any expertise in geomagnetic activity, but I’m aware of the role of the jetstream in tornado formation. In any case, powerful tornadoes seem to occur in the vicinity of Moore, OK every few years in the spring.

  6. Although it looks like the average is on decline, since everyone has a phone to capture the event we all get to see. The media ends up not being good at portraying reality ironically.

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