At least 43 people died over the Christmas holiday weekend in a series of storms that hit the South, Southwest and Midwest United States. Missouri and New Mexico declared states of emergency. Tornadoes were reported in 10 states, including Michigan, which recorded its first-ever tornado in December. The deadliest storms were in Texas, where at least 11 people died when tornadoes hit areas near Dallas. As many as a thousand homes were damaged. Now a major snowstorm is heading toward the region. The storm has already resulted in blizzard-like conditions in New Mexico, Oklahoma and western Texas. The snowstorm even disrupted the college football Sun Bowl being played in El Paso on the Mexico border. Another 10 people died in tornadoes in Mississippi, six more in Tennessee. Flash floods also killed at least 13 people in Missouri, Illinois and Arkansas, where as much as nine inches of rain fell on some areas.
Meanwhile, heat records were broken Christmas Day across the East Coast from Maine to Georgia. On Christmas Eve, the thermometer topped a record-breaking 70 degrees Fahrenheit in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. This weekend of extreme weather comes as climatologists predict 2015 will be the warmest year ever recorded, smashing last year’s record. So far in 2015, nine out of the 11 months have set a new monthly temperature record. Meanwhile, in South America, as many as 160,000 people have been evacuated due to heavy storms in Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil.
We go now to Tallahassee, Florida, to James Elsner, professor at Florida State University, co-author of the paper, “The Increasing Efficiency of Tornado Days in the United States,” recently published by the journal Climate Dynamics.
Professor, welcome to Democracy Now! Can you start off by talking about the weather we’ve seen, especially the tornadoes? Is there a link to climate change
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