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'When It Rains, It Pours': Global Warming Brings Increased, Heavier Storms

Report documents increasing and heavier snowstorms and rainstorms since 1948

- Common Dreams staff

The impacts of human-caused global warming are being felt across the U.S. as increased and heavier storms -- predicted by climate scientists -- are confirmed in a report released Tuesday.

Regional Trends Toward Increased Extreme Rainstorm and Snowstorm Frequency (from the report "When It Rains, It Pours" The report, "When it Rains, it Pours Global Warming and the Increase in Extreme Precipitation from 1948 to 2011" from Environment California Research & Policy Center, shows the effects of a warmer Earth, which is increasing evaporation and causing the atmosphere to hold more moisture. The report shows that extreme rainstorms and snowstorms are happening 30 percent more frequently on average across the contiguous U.S. since 1948; the heavy rainstorms or snowstorms that happened once every 12 months on average in 1948 now happen an average of every 9 months, with the largest annual storms nationwide producing 10 percent more precipitation.

"It's a significant trend, and it's the kind of thing that we can expect more of in the future if we continue to emit lots of global warming pollution," Travis Madsen one of the report's lead authors and a policy analyst at the Frontier Group, said.

The report also finds that 43 states exhibit a significant trend toward more frequent storms with extreme precipitation.  New England has been walloped by an increase in severe storms; the region experienced an 85%-increase in extreme rainstorms and snowstorms since 1948, with other regions showing significant increases as well.

“We need to heed scientists’ warnings that this dangerous trend is linked to global warming, and do everything we can to cut carbon pollution today,” said Nathan Willcox, Federal Global Warming Program Director with Environment America.

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Abandoned Cars on Lake Shore DriveFrom the report: "In Chicago, more than 1,500 vehicles and their occupants were stranded along Lake Shore Drive in February 2011 as the city experienced its third-largest snowfall in recorded history—part of a massive winter storm that blanketed much of the nation in snow and ice." (photo of abandoned cars on Lake Shore Drive from Metal Cowboy)

Nashville FloodFrom the report: "In Nashville, 14 inches of rain fell over two days in May 2010—more than twice as much as had ever fallen in a two-day span in the city’s recorded history. The event triggered a “1,000 year” flood, inundating the Country Music Hall of Fame, inflicting nearly $2 billion in damage, and killing 30 people." (photo of May 2010 Nashville flood: Eric Hamiter)

BrattleboroVTFlood2011 - 5Floodwaters rushing through Brattleboro, Vt. following Hurricane Irene (photo: calebjc)


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