Extreme Temperature Diary- Tuesday March 3rd, 2020/ Main Topic: An Early Spring Tornado Pummels Nashville…A Sign Of Climate Change?

Tuesday March 3rd… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing post will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials)😉

Main Topic: An Early Spring Tornado Pummels Nashville… A Sign Of Climate Change?

Dear Diary. I regularly glance at meteorological data, so I was somewhat surprised to learn this morning that a large tornado had pummeled the northern side of Nashville, Tennessee overnight, since the atmosphere didn’t look that unstable at mid-levels. Only one big cell formed, but it only takes one to make for a disaster. Upon closer inspection the atmosphere was ripe for tornadic activity but in a very small area. Two of my closest friends, the Walkers, have recently moved from Atlanta to Nashville, so I was very much concerned for their well being. They moved to the southern side of town, so I was relieved to learn that they were O.K. Still, this was quite the heart wrenching disaster as shown by these notes:

Well, let’s be clear here. Climate change did not cause this tornado, but it probably led to a warmer atmosphere earlier in meteorological spring, conducive for a large tornado to move across an area as far north as northern Tennessee. Obviously, the warmer conditions are, the more unstable for severe weather. Back during the 1970s and 1980s I remember many times in which snow flurries were in the air during March in Atlanta. The blizzard of 1993 occurred on March 12th in Atlanta. Not all Marches were cold, but many more were before the turn of this century.

We are at a far cry from a winter weather regime across the South looking at this afternoon’s temperatures:

Climate change researchers will be trying to find out if a given city, such as Nashville, will become more susceptible to tornadoes for years to come. What I can state is that winters are getting shorter, thus tornado preparedness efforts will need to be moved up during calendar years, particularly across the southern U.S.

Here is Climate Central’s assessment of earlier springs:


Warming Spring
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Warming Spring

  • Published: March 7th, 2018

By Climate Central

March 1 signals the beginning of meteorological spring. In spite of the wintry precipitation that has kicked off the month in parts of the country, springs across the U.S. are getting warmer with climate change. On average, spring has warmed a little more than 2°F in the U.S. since 1970.

The strongest warming, as examined by the NCEI climate divisions, is in the Southwest. Several cities have warmed more than 5°F, including El Paso, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tucson. Of the 244 stations across the country we analyzed, only nine (3.7 percent) showed no warming trend at all, and more than half have warmed at least 2°F.

Spring warming trends in these cities

Spring isn’t just getting warmer, but the signs of spring are coming earlier. Based on the appearance of first leaves, spring is arriving in the U.S. an average of three days earlier than a few decades ago. By 2100, it may be as much as three weeks earlier.

Warming springs disrupt long-term patterns in nature. Plants are emerging from their winter dormancy earlier, putting them at a greater risk of damage from a brief early spring freeze. Tellingly, the famous cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. are forecast by the National Park Service to peak between March 17-20 this year. This is much earlier than observed average peak dates between the last week of March and the first week of April.

Additionally, migrating birds and insects that help pollinate plants and food crops may not arrive at the best time for pollination. The pollen season itself also is moving earlier into the year, increasing respiratory stress for those with allergies, and increasing the risk of allergy-induced asthma.

Methodology: National trends in spring warming are analyzed using NOAA/NCEI climate division temperatures for March through May since 1970. Individual city temperature trends are calculated using data from the Applied Climate Information System. Displayed trend lines on city analyses are based on an objective mathematical linear regression. A start date of 1970 was chosen since it is the earliest year in which reliable data was available for all 244 cities analyzed. 

Posted in Impacts, Trends, Climate, United States

I fear that more March severe storms and tornadoes will be in the offing looking at the weather pattern…and in northern places not used to seeing tornadoes so early in the year. I’ll keep my readers abreast on volatile situations as we roll into this spring.

Please consider donating through the Paypal widget on this site. I need everyone’s support to continue my work, especially that of processing NCEI record count data for scientific research.

Here is some more weather and climate news from Tuesday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have  put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity.)

(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.) 

Guy Walton “The Climate Guy”

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