Russian climatologists together with foreign colleagues conducted an analysis of data on the number of tornadoes over the territory of Northern Europe over the past 11 centuries. The researchers have found that there are more tornadoes in Russia than previously thought, assessed the risks of formation of the hazardous phenomenon in a given area, and proposed a new effective approach to forecasting the hazardous phenomenon.
Many of us have known what a tornado is from childhood — from the book “The Wizard of the Emerald City” written by Alexander Volkov, based on the tale of the American writer, Lyman Frank Baum. It is not surprising that the author from the USA wrote the story about a house taken to a fairy tale land by a tornado first. The largest number of tornadoes in the world is formed in North America - about 1000 a year. Dangerous vortices arise from thunderclouds and move at speeds up to 70 km / h, sweeping away everything in their path. According to official figures, tornadoes are not a threat in Russia - no more than two tornadoes occur in our country in a year.
However, due to global climate changes, which also affect the occurrence of tornadoes, the Russian scientists, together with foreign colleagues, decided to conduct a new study of tornadoes in Northern Europe. After analyzing the data from satellite images, meteorological observations, historical chronicles, news reports and eyewitness accounts, the researchers came to the conclusion that the number of tornadoes in our country has increased and the old data was greatly underestimated. It turns out that in the XXI century in Russia, annually, there are more than 100 tornadoes.
“The Russian climatologists who conducted this research actually opened the door to an unknown region,” comments on the work of his colleagues Pavel Konstantinov, Meteo-TV employee, climatologist, an employee of the Hydrometcenter of Russia. “Let’s be honest – until now, tornadoes were considered something exotic in Russia. It’s clear that in comparison to the United States, the danger and damage from such vortices in Russia were much lower in the 20th century. And the forecasting system for such vortices here is less sophisticated - after all, the country is northern, and there are enough other problems (like the permafrost, for example). But the climate is changing, and, like the troubles such as heat waves (this is what hit Moscow in 2010), the likelihood of tornadoes is growing. This is why the work of the Russian scientists is brilliant and very timely."
The climatologists also concluded that tornadoes have a clear time reference. The peak of their occurrence over land is in May-August and at 5–6 PM, and most of these phenomena over water form in late summer and in the first half of the day at 9AM–1PM. The formation of tornadoes over land can be explained by the features of heat transfer: the maximum heating of the surface is observed in the region at 3-4PM, then the development of a thundercloud takes some more time. The peak of their creation above water is associated with the strong evaporation of water from the surface of the sea - warm, moist air is necessary for the formation of a tornado.
The authors of the new study proposed an “ingredient” approach to predict the risks of tornadoes. The approach is that any dangerous natural phenomenon consists of several factors - humidity, temperature and others - and is associated with their critical change. Thus, having recorded sharp spikes in indicators according to observations or in weather forecast models, measures can be taken to protect the population and important objects.
Modeling with taking into account these indicators and climate change showed that the risk of tornadoes in the coming years will increase significantly in the south of the Far East, as well as slightly increase in Central Russia and Siberia. However, monitoring the weather and introducing tornado forecast into operational practice can significantly reduce the devastating effect and save many lives.