Soggy fields leave Midwestern farmers with few good answers
As the seemingly endless barrage of violent tornadoes continued to pummel a large swath of the United States this week, lawmakers and concerned citizens declared on social media that the storms offered a front row seat to the unfolding climate crisis.
During a presidential campaign stop in disaster-stricken Iowa, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) posted a video in which she says planetary warming is helping drive severe weather events, including tornadoes, and blasts those who deny the reality of climate change for “putting us all at risk.” In a post to Twitter, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), another 2020 contender, slammed the Trump administration for working to undermine climate science as sections of the central United States reel from tornadoes and catastrophic flooding. And when Washington, D.C., was put under a tornado warning May 23, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) posted to Instagram: “The climate crisis is real, y’all.”
The scientific community has long warned that anthropogenic climate change exacerbates extreme weather events, including tropical cyclones, heat waves, droughts and heavy rainfall. But the influence of human activity on tornadoes remains less clear.
That’s in part due to a limited amount of historical data. Unlike temperature and hurricane records, which date back more than a century, reliable tornado records go back only a few decades. Twisters are also short-lived, making it difficult to study individual events and detect trends.
Yet, even with these shortfalls, there is evidence that our changing climate may be leaving a mark, causing clusters of tornadoes and a shift in range.
“While there is some debate within the scientific community about the details of how climate change will impact tornadoes, there is increasing evidence that a warming atmosphere ― with more moisture and turbulent energy ― favors increasingly large outbreaks of tornadoes, like the outbreak we’ve witnessed over the past few days,” Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University, said by email.
In other words, planet-warming greenhouse gases could be helping to drive the storms that ultimately set the stage for tornado development.
The 4th National Climate Assessment, a congressionally mandated federal report released late last year, concluded that tornadoes have “become more variable” and are among the extreme weather events that are “exhibiting changes that may be related to climate change, but scientific understanding is not yet detailed enough to confidently project the direction and magnitude of future change.” The report also notes that “there is some indication that, in a warmer world, the number of days with conditions conducive to severe thunderstorm activity is likely to increase.”
This month’s spate of tornadoes ― the most active tornado period since 2011, according to The Weather Channel ― has been fueled by a long-stalled jet stream air current, which forced a pool of cool air over the Southwest to collide with moist, warm air from the Gulf of Mexico. As of Thursday, the preliminary tornado count for May stood at 442, with the vast majority touching down over the last two weeks. Texas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma were among the states hardest hit, although tornadoes also popped up outside the region typically known as Tornado Alley, in places like New Mexico, northern Minnesota and Maryland.
James Elsner, an atmospheric scientist at Florida State University in Tallahassee, called the two-week run of tornadoes “unusual.” Whereas a typical outbreak might last two or three days, this one just kept spawning twisters. Elsner’s research has shown that, though the annual number of tornadoes has remained steady, the number of tornadoes per outbreak has spiked. Tornado records show that the odds of having 32 tornadoes in a single day doubled from 1950 to 2013, he found.
“We’re not saying climate change is directly causing these outbreaks,” Elsner said. “But I think there is a fingerprint of climate change on what’s happening.”
A more recent study, published in 2016, also documents a shift in concentration. It found that the “frequency of tornado outbreaks (clusters of tornadoes) and the number of extremely powerful tornado events have been increasing over nearly the past half-century” but that it is unclear if this trend is caused by climate change.
Perhaps the most significant change in tornado activity is where they strike. In a paper published in the journal Nature last year, Victor Gensini, a professor of meteorology at Northern Illinois University, showed that Tornado Alley is slow-creeping east, with fewer twisters in the Great Plains and an increasing number in the more densely populated Midwest and Southeast.
“It’s not a big jump to say that climate change is causing this shift east,” Gensini told CBS News at the time. “The hypothesis and computer simulations support what we are observing and what we expect in the future.”
In a series of posts to Twitter this week, Gensini reminded the public that climate change doesn’t cause tornadoes or any other extreme weather event but is one of many variables that can contribute to their occurrence. He compared it to hitting a home run in baseball while on steroids.
“Was that home run due to steroids? Maybe, maybe not.” he wrote. “Hard (impossible?) to tell only examining an at-bat. Much easier to tell when examining seasonal home runs and batting averages.”
Numerous interview requests streaming in re: recent tornadoes and climate change. No, climate change did not cause the recent rash of US tornadoes. Climate change does not cause any given extreme weather event. It does alter background probabilities of the PDF curve. 1/8
Approximately 1,200 tornadoes touch down in the U.S. each year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This year is already well ahead of pace, with just over 1,000 tornado reports as of Wednesday. The violent storms over the last two weeks left a trail of splintered homes and other damageacross multiple states. There have been at least seven storm-related fatalities, countless injuries and widespread power outages, according to The New York Times. Weather conditions were forecast to improve Thursday.
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungarian police detained the captain of a cruise ship that collided with and sank a sightseeing boat packed with South Korean tourists, as rescue crews geared up to raise the vessel from the bottom of the Danube River in the heart of Budapest while scouring the waters for 21 people still missing.
Seven people are confirmed dead and seven have been rescued, all of them South Koreans, Hungarian officials said. Hungary’s state TV reported that all those rescued have been released from the hospital except one who is being treated for broken ribs.
Officials said preparations to bring up the 70-year-old boat, which was built in the former Soviet Union, could take days.
Police, who launched a criminal investigation into the incident, said late Thursday that they had detained and questioned the Ukrainian captain of the larger vessel.
The 64-year-old man is suspected of endangering water transport leading to a deadly mass accident. In line with Hungarian laws, the suspect was identified only as Yuriy C., referencing his first name and the initial letter of his last name. Police proposed the arrest of the Odessa resident, described earlier by police as an experienced sailor.
So far, only seven of the 35 people onboard, that included 33 South Koreans, are known to have survived the incident near the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest. Seven others are confirmed dead and 21 remain missing.
A South Korean group on a package tour of Europe — including 30 tourists, two guides and a photographer— were on an hour-long sightseeing tour of Budapest when their boat collided with a Viking cruise ship during a downpour Wednesday evening.
Nineteen South Koreans and two Hungarian crew members — the captain and his assistant — remain missing.
A map released by Hungarian police showed the locations and times the seven bodies were recovered, with one body found nearly 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) downstream, nearly 2-½ hours after the collision.
„Those contributing to the search will continue to do everything possible … along the full Hungarian stretch of the Danube’s coasts in the interests of the locating the missing persons,” Budapest police said in a statement, adding that the river was flowing at speeds of 9-11 kilometers (5.6-6.8 miles) per hour.
A crisis management team from the South Korean government arrived in Budapest late Thursday, as well as representatives from the South Korean tourist agency which organized the ill-fated trip.
„The most important emphasis of our government is the protection of Korean nationals overseas,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary Oh Sai Juengh said upon his arrival in Budapest.
The sunken boat was located early Thursday near the Margit Bridge, not far from the neo-Gothic Parliament building on the riverbank.
Video released by Hungarian police showed the sightseeing boat, identified as the Hableany (Mermaid), traveling closely side by side and in the same direction as a German-built Viking cruise ship as they approached the bridge Wednesday night.
The Hableany then appeared to steer slightly to its left, into the path of the 135-meter (443-feet) long cruise ship, which continued to sail on at the same speed. The two collided and the sightseeing boat was then seen tipping on its side between the bridge’s two supports.
„As the Viking comes into contact with (the Hableany), it overturns it and in about seven seconds, as it turn on its side, it sinks,” Police Col. Adrian Pal said.
Pal said it’s unclear what caused the Hableany to steer into the path of the Viking. He said several people aboard the Hableany fell into the water after the collision. The South Korean government said none of those on board was wearing a life jacket.
Police said rescue operations were hampered by the rain and the fast flow of the rising Danube. The search for the 21 missing extended far downstream, even into Serbia, where the Danube goes after leaving Hungary.
The river, which is 450 meters (500 yards) wide at the point of the accident, was fast-flowing and rising as heavy rain continued in the city. Water temperatures were about 10 to 12 degrees Celsius (50-53 Fahrenheit).
Hajoregiszter.hu, a local ship-tracking website, lists the Hableany as having been built in 1949 in the former Soviet Union. The Viking Sigyn was built this year, according to cruisemapper.com.
CCTV footage recorded on Wednesday night showed that the river was busy with boats of different sizes traveling in both directions.
Budapest has enjoyed a boom in overseas tourism in recent years. Long-haul flights from as far away as Dubai and Beijing increasingly fly visitors from Asia and the Middle East to the Hungarian capital, a relatively affordable but history-rich European destination.
Earlier, the news website Index.hu said one of those rescued was found near the Petofi Bridge, about 3 kilometers (2 miles) south of Parliament.
Police have questioned the Ukrainian captain of the Viking ship, but no details have been released. Authorities said both vessels’ captains are experienced, with many years of service with their companies. South Korean officials said the tourists were not wearing life jackets.
Relatives and a team of 25 official rescue workers were on their way from South Korea to Budapest Thursday. The team of fire, navy and coast guard workers includes some who had been involved in rescue operations for the 2014 South Korean ferry disaster that killed more than 300 people — one of the country’s worst maritime accidents.
Seoul’s presidential Blue House said President Moon Jae-in has called Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to discuss rescue operations. Moon thanked Orban for the Hungarian government’s rescue efforts, and requested further support for efforts to find the missing, treat the survivors and recover bodies.
The Blue House said Orban told Moon that more than 200 divers and medical staff are involved in the rescue efforts and that officials are planning to locate and hoist the ship.
Employees from the South Korean Embassy in Budapest were assisting Hungarian officials in identifying those rescued and the deceased.
Budapest’s Disaster Management Office Chief Col Zsolt Gabor Palotai said the Hungarian army is setting up a pontoon near the capsized ship’s wreck and divers will go into the Danube from there.
The Very Good Tour agency said the tourists left South Korea on May 25 and were supposed to return June 1.
Most of them were family groups, and they included a 6-year-old girl. Her status wasn’t immediately clear but she didn’t appear on a list of survivors provided by the tour agency.
Senior agency official Lee Sang-moo disclosed the identities of the seven rescued South Koreans — six women and one man, aged between 31 and 66. The company is arranging for family members of the tourists to travel to Hungary as soon as possible.
The Hableany is described on the sightseeing company’s website as „one of the smallest members of the fleet.” It has two decks and a capacity for 60 people, or 45 for sightseeing cruises.
Mihaly Toth, a spokesman for the Panorama Deck boating company, said the Hableany was on a „routine city sightseeing trip” when the accident happened. He told state television that he had no information about any technical problems with the boat, which he said was serviced regularly.
The Margit Bridge connects the two halves of the city, Buda and Pest, with a large recreational island in the middle of the Danube. It is the bridge just north of the famous Chain Bridge, a suspension bridge originally built in the 19th century that, like the Parliament, is a major tourist draw in the heart of the city.
Index.hu reported that other riverboats shined spotlights into the water to aid with the search, and that a film crew operating on the Liberty Bridge farther down the river directed its lighting equipment toward the Danube to assist.
Hyung-jin Kim reported from Seoul, South Korea. Associated Press writers Adam Schreck in Bangkok and Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.
Rescue officials have confirmed that seven people have died after a sightseeing boat collided with another vessel and sank in a matter of seconds on the Danube River in Budapest.
Pal Gyorfi, spokesman for the National Ambulance Service, said seven people were rescued and transported to hospital in stable condition following the accident on Wednesday night.
National police spokesman Kristof Gal said 33 South Koreans and two crew members were on the boat, that collided with a larger cruise ship during an evening downpour.
Nineteen South Koreans and the Hungarian crew members are missing.
The tour party had consisted of 30 tourists, two guides and a photographer on a package tour of Europe.
The Very Good Tour agency said the tourists left South Korea on May 25 and were supposed to return on June 1.
Most of them were family groups and they included a six-year-old girl.
Senior agency official Lee Sang-moo disclosed the identities of the seven rescued South Koreans – six women and one man, aged between 31 and 66.
Police Colonel Adrian Pal said the boat turned on its side and sank in about seven seconds.
He said that rescue operations were hampered by the rain and the fast flow of the rising Danube.
The search for the 21 missing extended far downstream, even into Serbia, where the Danube goes after leaving Hungary.
Water temperatures were about 10C to 12C (50F-53F).
Climbers who make the perilous journey to the top of Mount Everest are risking their lives to take the best selfies, according to one adventurer.
Ed Dohring, from Arizona, said the conditions on the world-famous peak were “zoo-like” as climbers jostled for position to get the best pictures for social media.
Speaking after the deaths of several climbers of Everest in May, including British climber Robin Haynes Fisher, Mr Dohring compared the world’s highest peak to a zoo, adding that it was “scary”.
He described a large group of people who were already at the summit as „very rude and unruly”, saying they were „basically pushing so they could get better pictures of themselves”.
He added to CBS: ”I was surprised at how many people were, you know, above 26,000 feet and were really obviously either not fit or not experienced and probably shouldn’t have been there.”
„I certainly wasn’t prepared to pass dead bodies that were attached to the safety line. It was very difficult.”
Eleven people have died in 10 days as they attempted to reach the top of the 29,029 ft mountain.
Read more from Yahoo News UK:
Climbers who made their way to the summit spoke of seeing dead bodies along their journey.
Film-maker Elia Saikaly wrote on Instagram: „I can’t believe what I saw up there.
„Death. Carnage. Chaos. Lineups. Dead bodies on the route in tents at camp 4. People who I tried to turn back ended up dying. People being dragged down. Walking over bodies. Everything you read in the sensational headlines all played out on our summit night. „
Elia added to The Guardian: „I came across a deceased climber… that person’s body was fixed to an anchor point between two safety lines and every single person that was climbing towards the summit had to step over that human being.”
There are 41 teams with a total of 378 climbers permitted to scale the mountain during the spring climbing season in Nepal that begins around March and ends this month.
An equal number of Nepalese guides are helping them get to the summit.
British climber Robin Haynes Fisher, 44, died on his descent after reaching the summit of the world’s highest mountain.
Irish climber Kevin Hynes, 56, died in his tent at 7,000 metres in the early hours of Friday after turning back before reaching the summit.
The father-of-two was part of a group from UK-based climbing company 360 Expeditions which was attempting to scale the world’s highest mountain.
His death comes a week after Trinity College professor Seamus (Shay) Lawless, aged 39 and from Bray, Co Wicklow, fell during his descent from the peak having achieved a lifetime ambition of reaching the summit.
The search for Mr Lawless has been called off.
An American climber, Austrian climber and two Indian climbers are also reported to have died.