Yesterday, my sister called me. Why? To let me know she was okay, despite the giant “mile wide” tornado that missed her house in Northern Colorado by about a mile or two. What tornado?!! I asked. Well she was talking about this one:

Her power was out all day, and when it came back on she called to let me know she was all right, not knowing that I was completely unaware of her plight. The tornado was barely covered in the national news (a better NBC video of the tornado can be seen here), but it could have killed my sister or destroyed her home had it taken a slightly different path. She got lucky.

The aftermath:

Because of the proximity of the Rocky Mountains tornadoes along the front range of Colorado and Wyoming are rare events. And I’ve never before heard of any tornado the size of the one that just missed my sister’s house. Not in Colorado, anyway. Not this violent with winds up to 200 mph, and not this large. And it was just one of a series of tornadoes that struck the area.

Here is a video of a tornado in Cheyenne, Wyoming that was spawned by the same storm:

Tornadoes and violent storms also hit Southern California yesterday, as well:

A tornado flipped a big-rig truck, derailed a freight train and clogged a major interstate for several miles Thursday as a wild spring thunderstorm hopscotched across Southern California dumping hail, rain and snow.

The most severe damage was reported in Riverside County, where dark, towering funnel clouds spun across the communities east and west of the 215 Freeway corridor. In Orange County, walls of water, mud and debris — some 8 feet high — battered eastern canyons that had burned in last year’s wildfires, leaving behind a muddy mess but little major damage and no injuries.

It has been a particularly violent tornado season so far this year, one that some are calling unprecedented in its scope.

There were 368 documented U.S. tornadoes in January and February of this year. The previous record for that two month span? 243, in 1999.

February 2008’s 232 tornadoes was also a record.

And that was only for the first two months of the year. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to tie any of these specific weather events directly to the phenomenon of global warming, but one of the predictions that most climate change models make as the result of increased warming of the planet is an increase in the number of severe storms during all seasons of the year.

NASA scientists have developed a new climate model that indicates that the most violent severe storms and tornadoes may become more common as Earth’s climate warms.

… The model developed at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies by researchers Tony Del Genio, Mao-Sung Yao, and Jeff Jonas is the first to successfully simulate the observed difference in strength between land and ocean storms and is the first to estimate how the strength will change in a warming climate, including “severe thunderstorms” that also occur with significant wind shear and produce damaging winds at the ground. …

Maybe its time to start taking the scientists who study global climate change seriously. Past time, even. My sister is alive and well today, but many other people are not. And we are a developed country with sophisticated warning technologies in place. In parts of the world like Myanmar, where such warning systems are not in place, the effects of one severe storm (in this case a cyclone) killed tens of thousands of people earlier this month.

This time the effects of severe weather hit very close to home for me. Next time, it might be your turn. And by the way, when you fool with Mother Nature, as we have been doing by pumping billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each and every year, she doesn’t distinguish between those who accept the reality of global warming and those who willfully choose to deny it. The pain and suffering which will result from the massive changes we as human beings are making to our planet’s climate will know no distinctions, based on political affiliation, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or faith in any particular God.

Maybe someone ought to tell our political leaders about this. Because while they fiddle around with their oppo research, smear attacks and all the other trivial and typically ridiculous campaign crapola that will be forgotten by most of us in a few years, the world is burning. And none of them is seriously trying to put out the fire.

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