Smoke Makes Tornadoes More Likely to Strike?

  • Please note the forum rules were updated today. You may review them by clicking here

Steve Miller

Owner Emeritus
Staff member
Supporter
Jun 14, 2004
1,793
935
21
Moore, OK
www.stevemillerok.com
What could fires in Central America have to do with the deadliest outbreak of tornadoes in recent U.S. history? More than you might think, according to a new study. Researchers found that smoke wafting north from the Gulf of Mexico worsened the already-stormy weather brewing across the southeastern US on April 27, 2011. That afternoon, 122 twisters tore across the country, killing 313 people.

"It’s not that the outbreak happened because of the smoke." Pablo Saide, of the University of Iowa, and an author of a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. [Pablo Saide et al, Central American biomass burning smoke can increase tornado severity in the U.S.] "What’s happening is that this smoke, it interacts with clouds and with solar radiation."

Smoke consists of tiny particles, called aerosols, which can have complicated effects on weather. So Saide used a model to explore whether these particles influenced the tornado outbreak of April 27. He found smoke made twisters more likely to strike, and more ferocious when they did. However, at the moment, weather forecasts don’t consider aerosol particles.

"This is difficult because weather models need to be finished very fast—because you want weather predictions for today, not for tomorrow. And including these aerosols makes it slower."

But Saide thinks it’s worth it. He says understanding the role of smoke and other airborne particles will help forecasters predict when weather conditions might change from dreary to deadly.

Source: http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/smoke-makes-twisters-more-likely-to-strike/
 
  • Like
Reactions: Steve Miller TX

rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
7,227
777
21
50
Lansing, MI
skywatch.org
This was addressed by Brooks et al. when published... It's WAY too far-reaching for just one instance to make ANY conclusions on. Put this in the "Ehh, interesting, but a bad conclusion" file :)
 
Sep 8, 2014
109
49
11
Norman, OK
This author was really brave to put his name on this article. To attribute a small amount of severity of April 27th to some smoke is way too much credit. The atmosphere that day was insane and likely won't be similar again for a long time. As Jeff said, "There were lots of rumblings in the academic community" along with a lot of facepalming and snickering...
 

rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
7,227
777
21
50
Lansing, MI
skywatch.org
It's kind like the Climatologists who have squandered trying to predict the future. The Farmer Almanac does a better job.
Tell me about it... But I'm not sure I'd call AccuWeather a "climatologist" group... They consider their 45-day forecasts to be actually meteorologically based! Sigh...

And don't even start on the fringe sector who deny climate change science. That's potentially far more damaging to our society than a smoke study. But we digress :)
 
Mar 4, 2015
28
13
6
Matamoras, PA
The key word in the article is "complicated", which can be translated to "unknown". The real advance in storm (weather in general) forecasting will come if the government gets serious about increasing the number our weather observation sites, especially the rawinsonde network (http://www.ua.nws.noaa.gov/nws_upper.htm). Satellite (top-down) observations can't yet match the accuracy and quality of rawinsondes, although radiometers (bottom-up) soundings are much better -- but they are very expensive and don't measure winds.