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Science. 2014 Oct 17;346(6207):349-52. doi: 10.1126/science.1257460.

Increased variability of tornado occurrence in the United States.

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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, OK 73072, USA.
NOAA/National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center, Norman, OK 73072, USA.


Whether or not climate change has had an impact on the occurrence of tornadoes in the United States has become a question of high public and scientific interest, but changes in how tornadoes are reported have made it difficult to answer it convincingly. We show that, excluding the weakest tornadoes, the mean annual number of tornadoes has remained relatively constant, but their variability of occurrence has increased since the 1970s. This is due to a decrease in the number of days per year with tornadoes combined with an increase in days with many tornadoes, leading to greater variability on annual and monthly time scales and changes in the timing of the start of the tornado season.

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