President of the United States and amateur meteorologist Joe Biden made some strange claims about weather events during a recent public appearance, declaring that an unknown “they” no longer use the term tornadoes. Biden advocates defended the President by claiming he was referencing derechos, a different type of storm, but were unable to explain why Biden claimed tornadoes are not called tornadoes anymore.
“Uh, you know, the, looks like a tornado, they don’t call ’em that anymore, that hit the crops and, and wetlands in the middle of the country, and, and Iowa, and Nevada, and, I mean it’s just across the board,” Biden explained. “And uh, you know um, uh, as I said we’re in this together.”
Joe Biden on tornadoes: "…they don't call them that anymore…" pic.twitter.com/HwkpYzv8bm
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) September 7, 2021
Biden fans on Twitter attempted a preemptive debunking of those who took the President’s words at face value, arguing that the President was referring to derechos, not tornadoes.
The National Weather Service defines a tornado as “a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground” that is “capable of completely destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees, and hurling objects through the air like deadly missiles,” while a derecho is a “widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms.” Photographs of the two weather events reveal that they share little visual similarity other than color.
Another aspect of Biden’s monologue that was pointed out by critics was his use of Nevada as an example of a state where storms that are no longer called tornadoes occur. The fact that Nevada is not typically considered a hotbed of tornado activity, coupled with the President’s reference to Iowa beforehand, led critics to believe Biden had confused Nevada with the Midwestern state of Nebraska, which does frequently experience tornadoes.