The city of Nashville remains devastated, a week after “biblical” rainfall caused catastrophic flooding. On the first two days of May, 13.53 inches of rain fell in Nashville, setting not just six-hour, twelve-hour, one-day, and two-day records but also breaking the record for rainfall during the entire month of May in Nashville’s history. Country musician Marty Stuart, a regular with the now-flooded Grand Ole Opry, described the floods in just two words:
“After living through our recent flood,” one local wrote, “I certainly have a greater appreciation for Noah and his family.”
Although this devastating event would have been fantastically unlikely without global warming, scientists have been predicting for decades that our hotter world means more intense precipitation. The record rains “were accompanied by a surge of very warm air that set record high temperature marks at 21 major airports across the Eastern U.S. on Saturday,” Wunderground’s Jeff Masters writes. “This is not surprising, since more moisture can evaporate into warmer air, making record-setting rainfall events more likely when record high temperatures are present.”
Meanwhile, Tennessee’s senators, Republicans Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, dither on limiting greenhouse gas pollution. Corker — who has questioned the existence of man-made global warming — has flipped and flopped in recent years on whether mandatory limits on carbon pollution are needed. Similarly, Alexander has flipped and flopped on cap-and-trade legislation. When asked “how serious is the problem of global warming” for the people of Tennessee, Alexander responded, “Long term, it’s a problem. On the shorter term, the more serious problem is clean air.”
Nashville’s biblical rains come on the heels of catastrophic rains in the Northeast, the Southeast and the Midwest. Floods “of biblical proportions” have struck all regions of the world in recent years, including Great Britain, Canada, the Canary Islands, India, southern Africa, and China.
From the U.S. Climate Extremes Index, the extreme rainfall indicator (twice the value of the percentage of the United States with a much greater than normal proportion of precipitation derived from extreme 1-day precipitation events):