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By Cliff Harris

It’s the record flooding along the Mississippi River that’s getting national attention in early May.

But, from 8 a.m. on April 25 through 8 a.m. on April 28, the big story weatherwise across the country was the 362 confirmed tornadoes, the largest outbreak ever for any 72-hour period in recorded history. Nearly 330 people were killed in seven states, 236 persons in Alabama alone. Thousands were injured. Property damage may exceed $2 billion.

There were 226 ‘twisters’ observed in a single day on April 27, likewise a new all-time record. This broke the previous mark of 148 tornadoes on April 3, 1974.

As of Thursday, May 5, the latest Weather Service estimate for the total number of tornadoes counted this past April in the U.S. was a staggering 613 ‘twisters.’ The previous record was 267 tornadoes in April of 1974. The average number of tornadoes sighted in April since 1880 has been 161.

Prior to April of 2011's record tornadic outbreak, the old record for any month since 1880 was 542 tornadoes observed in May of 2003.

It’s quite possible that 2011 will eventually go into the record books as the year with the most tornadoes ever sighted. As of this writing, we had counted 881 ‘twisters’ already this 2011 season across the country. The all-time record was 1817 tornadoes in 2004.

Scientists once again are blaming GLOBAL WARMING for this spring’s record outbreak of tornadoes. As my friend, correspondent Cecil Hathaway says;

"Apparently, global warming is responsible for everything bad that happens. And, it’s all being caused by us human beings."

But, we’re not seeing more tornadoes due to global warming. As Roy W. Spencer, Ph.D., Climatologist, and the Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville explains;

"Contrasting air masses of widely-varying temperatures is the key. Active tornado seasons in the U.S. are always the result of UNUSUALLY COLD air pushing much farther south than normal through the Midwest into Dixie."

He goes on to add; "for example, the ‘poster child’ for active tornado seasons was the so-called ‘Super Outbreak’ in April of 1974, which took place during a period of widespread global cooling. (Some thought that we were entering a new ‘Little Ice Age.’)"

During this ‘La Nina’ spring, we’ve seen a much cooler and wetter than normal period that has significantly delayed the planting of corn east of the Mississippi River in the Midwest. There is no doubt that these La Nina years favor far more tornadoes than usual.

Despite the recent warming in the Arctic regions, the average global temperature, as I reported last week in ‘Gems,’ has plummeted by nearly a full degree Fahrenheit in just the past year.

Here is what Dr. Spencer says about this spring’s weather;

"The extra moisture from the Gulf of Mexico this spring is not that important. It’s the cold ‘wind-shear factor’ that has caused the record outbreak of tornadoes. If global warming were the cause, there would be more tornadoes in Canada than Alabama. And, that’s not happening."

Dr. Spencer goes on to add;

"Anyone who claims that more tornadoes are linked to global warming is either misinformed, pandering, or delusional."

Roy W. Spencer, Ph.D. is a climatologist and a Principal Research Scientist for the University of Alabama in Huntsville, as well as the U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSE-E) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. He has served as a senior scientist for climate studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

He is known for his satellite-based temperature monitoring work, for which he was awarded the American Meteorological Society’s Special Award. Spencer’s research suggests that global warming is mostly natural, and that the climate system is quite insensitive to humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions and aerosol pollution and suggests that natural, chaotic variations in low cloud cover may account for most observed warming.