Climate Experts Vahrenholt And Lüning Call Recent Tornado Activity “The Great Tornado Doldrums”

Tornado_at_beginning_of_life_-_NOAAPutting information together from various sources, Sebastian Lüning and Fritz Vahrenholt have written a short analysis of tornado activity in the USA. Despite what one hears from the media, the two German scientists describe recent tornado activity as being in “great doldrums”.

The Great Tornado Doldrums: No Relationship Between Climate Change and Tornadoes
By Sebastian Lüning and Fritz Vahrenholt (translated by P Gosselin)

In May 2013, there was a series of severe tornadoes that caused horrible damage. The media reported profusely on these events (see our blog article “Violent Tornado Double Strike in May 2013 in Oklahoma: The History of Tornado Alley Since 1950“). How should we perceive these storms? Has tornado activity perhaps increased over the recent years, as some commentators have assumed from their gut feeling? If yes, could climate change perhaps have something to do with it?

Rather than relying on the suspicions and interpretations from third parties, it is worthwhile to have a closer look at real data so that a scientific basis can be established for the purpose of discussion.

We therefore first take a look at the tornado frequency of the last 8 years (Fig. 1). The steepest increase in each of the curves takes place in April and May, which is the main tornado season. Surprisingly, despite the prominent storms, the year 2013 (black curve) is in last place, and is comparable only with the year 2005 (green curve), which also saw relatively few tornadoes. The years 2008 and 2011 saw the most tornadoes.

Figure 1: Tornado frequency of the last 8 years, cumulative for each individual year. Source: NOAA Storm Prediction Center, 19 June 2013.

And how does this compare to the long-term? Figure 2 depicts the statistically evaluated tornado frequencies since 1954. Also here the year 2013 ranks near the bottom. More than three quarters of all years saw more tornado activity than 2013.

 Figure 2: Long-term tornado frequencies in the USA since 1954. Besides the strongest and weakest tornado years, also the limit range for the upper and lower 25%, as well as the mean value (50%) are shown. Source: NOAA Storm Prediction Center.

And how was last year? Also in 2012 tornadoes were relatively rare, as no year saw fewer tornadoes than 2012 since tornado recording began in 1954. 2012 was the absolute low-point of the officially recorded tornado development of the past 60 years. The lilac-colored curve in Figure 2 represents the year 2012, which is not that far off from the current 2013 year (black).

Next let’s take a look at a bar chart of the last 40 years (Figure 3). Also here we can observe that tornado frequency has a downward tendency rather than an upward one.

Figure 3: Tornado frequency development since 1970 for the more powerful EF2 and higher category tornadoes (upper chart) as well as EF3 to EF5 (lower diagram). Source: WUWT.

Even though the average global temperature has risen half of a degree Celsius over the last 40 years, tornadoes have not become more frequent. Rather the contrary has occurred; they have decreased somewhat. Thus it is no wonder that the NOAA takes a clear position at its information website, and excludes climate warming as the trigger for tornadoes:

Does ‘global warming’ cause tornadoes? No. […] ‘Will climate change influence tornado occurrence?’ The best answer is: We don’t know.”

Also the Extreme Weather Report of the IPCC from 2011 is unable to find a trend in tornado development over the last decades. In the meantime this knowledge has become known to the activist groups close to the IPCC and are now no longer able to escape this reality. One of these groups is the Union of Concerned Scientists, who still claim that the main reason for climate warming is man. In a blog article dated 22 May 2013 titled “Evidence to Date Does Not Show Clear Link Between Tornadoes and Climate Change” the group writes:

The short answer is that scientists don’t see a clear link between climate change and the number or intensity of tornadoes over the past several decades.”


Dr. Sebastian Lüning is a geologist and Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt is a chemist. Together they authored the climate science critical book “Die kalte Sonne”, which reached No. 1 on the Spiegel bestseller list for non-fiction in 2012.

Above tornado photo credit: NOAA (public domain photo)


17 responses to “Climate Experts Vahrenholt And Lüning Call Recent Tornado Activity “The Great Tornado Doldrums””

  1. Layne

    It makes sense that they can’t find the link between Tornadoes and CAGW since, after all, they can’t find legitimate evidence of CAGW.

  2. Ed Caryl

    It is a very strange world where it costs Trillions of dollars to prevent something that doesn’t and won’t exist. And when people point out this obvious fact, they are threatened and called vile names.

    1. DirkH

      It is nothing new.
      Control the information and you can make people invest all their money into the most absurd schemes.

      Personally I don’t think we can fight warmism; it will die by itself when it has fulfilled its purpose of redistributing money and power. Fighting warmism is like fighting the tulip bubble. As long as certain people can gain money or power with it they will continue to run things like SkS, thinkprogress, claim the fight against Global Warming is the modern day equivalent to the fight against slavery and all kinds of other absurdities.

      This is not as hopeless as it sounds. There are always crooks. You just want to make sure you don’t fall for their schemes.

      1. Mindert Eiting

        Dirk, nobody predicted the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. I’m looking forward to a similar absurd chain of events.

        1. DirkH

          Interestingly, Golitsyn HAS predicted the “collapse” of the USSR as part of a long range strategy. In a book written in 1980 and published in 1984.

          Some tidbits:
          The ruling class of the USSR never lost their power.
          The Gorbachev foundation in California is in the building that was formerly the location of the KomIntern.
          Amazon reviews

      2. Ed Caryl

        I like the comparison to the Tulip Bubble. They are very similar absurdities.

      3. Mindert Eiting

        The value of paper money, paintings, tulips, and the emperor’s clothes, is based on trust. If trust collapses, the value does. Why do warmists often say that skeptics are spreading doubt? This is something they are really afraid of.

        1. DirkH

          They are cult leaders. The first rule for a cult is that you must control the information that reaches the cult members. Basically it’s how Western civilization operates since Eddie Bernays.

  3. Margie R. Miranda

    This shows a few things. For one thing, they don’t have too many tornadoes in that part of the world. For another thing, there is an increase in overall frequency over time, and this is not because of lack of reporting. The reporting problem in the US is partly because the western and central states were relatively empty in the old days, and also more technology was available for spotting tornadoes later. But the European and US data have the same shape over a similar time span, but France and Germany do not have the missing observations owing to vast unoccupied (sort of) territories.

    1. DirkH

      Where do you see the increase in frequency?

  4. Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup | Watts Up With That?

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