The year 2012 is breaking all-time records for lack of tornado activity, inviting the question whether global warming is causing a long-term decline in destructive extreme weather events.
According the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, only 12 tornadoes touched down in the United States during July 2012, shattering the previous July record low of 42 tornadoes recorded in 1960. Because radar technology in 1960 could not detect many of the smaller tornadoes that are detectable today, scientists believe the actual number of tornadoes that occurred in the previous record-low July 1960 was actually about 73. Accordingly, six times more tornadoes occurred in July 1960, the previous record-low year, than occurred in July 2012.
Similarly, less than 300 tornadoes were recorded in this year’s peak tornado season, which runs from mid-April through late-July. Approximately 850 tornadoes touch down during the peak season in an average year. Accordingly, three times more tornadoes occur during an average peak-tornado season than occurred in 2012.