La Nina seemed to treat Louisiana and the rest of the Southeast United States like a punching bag. Its three-year barrage of body blows has come to an end, but left behind a lot of scars from hurricanes and tornadoes among other weather disasters.
Experts caution that attributing any single event to La Nina or its better-known cousin, El Nino, is difficult as they pronounced Thursday that the La Nina weather phenomenon has come to an end. But they can say generally that tornadoes in the Southeast and hurricanes are more frequent during La Nina.
Here are some examples of the 44 different billion-dollar extremes of nasty weather during La Nina’s reign:
A historic December 2021 tornado outbreak in Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas that killed 93 people and caused $4.2 billion in damage. Tornadoes twisted across 800 miles, including one single tornado that plowed across nearly 166 miles of Kentucky and a bit of Tennessee. At the time scientists attributed warm air during a cold season conditions to spring-like weather that was connected to both La Nina and human-caused climate change.
Last March and April, three different tornado outbreaks hit the South in less than two weeks. The first one was a batch of 83 tornadoes that killed two people and caused $1.3 billion in damage in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida at the end of March.
Then less than a week later, more than 100 tornadoes hit Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina in three days, killing three people and causing $1.5 billion in damage. About a week after that, dozens of tornadoes hit Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky, causing $2.8 billion in damage and killing one person.
An outbreak of 41 tornadoes smacked the Southeast in March 2021 killing six people and causing $1.9 billion in damage.
Last year, Hurricane Ian was one of the costliest weather disasters in U.S. history, smacking Florida with sustained winds of 150 mph, causing $112.9 billion in damage and killing 152 people.
About six weeks later, Hurricane Nicole hit many of the same places as Ian, causing another billion dollars in damage.
Then three weeks later, Hurricane Zeta killed six people and caused $8 billion in damage in Louisiana.
In September 2020, Hurricane Sally hit Alabama, the Florida panhandle and parts of Georgia causing $8.4 billion in damages.
NATURAL TRENDS AND CLIMATE CHANGE
The natural cooling and warming trends in Pacific Ocean waters from La Ninas and El Ninos ripple through global weather patterns, but studies show human-caused climate change has also increased and intensified weather extremes worldwide.
Both La Nina and climate change “load the dice for more extremes,” said University of Northern Illinois atmospheric scientist Victor Gensini, but he said it’s difficult to attribute any single event to La Nina.
Photo: An overturned tree sits in front of a tornado damaged home in Mayfield, Kentucky on Dec. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)
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