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Climate Adaptation

Warm Weather That’s Spawning U.S. Tornadoes Isn’t Budging

  • Pattern raises potential for more severe weather than normal
  • Warm, moist air is a key building block for violent storms
A resident with a child walks amid debris surveying damage following a severe storm in Hartland, Minnesota, on Dec. 15.

A resident with a child walks amid debris surveying damage following a severe storm in Hartland, Minnesota, on Dec. 15.

Photographer: Christian Monterrosa/Bloomberg

The weather pattern that unleashed two waves of tornadoes across the central U.S. this month isn’t going anywhere, raising the potential for more storms ahead.

Energetic storms sweeping in off the Pacific Ocean and then mixing with warm, almost spring-like moist air across central U.S. led to a deadly outbreak of tornadoes a week ago and a wave of hurricane-like winds on Wednesday, leaving a path of destruction from New Mexico to the Great Lakes. Wednesday’s storm killed at least five people, according to Associated Press, while last week’s death toll was at least 89, mostly in Kentucky.