While Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas are dealing with wildfires today, communities in Minnesota are experiencing dramatic flooding caused by the torrential rain that occurred last night and early this morning.
One specific community in Minnesota that is facing the realities of extreme weather induced by climate change today is the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth.
Minnesota Public Radio reported that at 3:30am someone noticed a seal on Grand Avenue and reported it prompting zoo officials to realize that the flash floods that were causing residents to flee their homes was also causing damage to the zoo. Berlin, the female polar bear, was also able to get out of her holding pen, along with more animals including the seals.
Susan Wolniakowski was on MPR and explained that because the Kingsburry Creek runs through the zoo grounds almost two-thirds of the zoo experienced intense flooding.
“It’s been a pretty tough night and a pretty tough morning here, to be honest with you. We’ve had major flooding from the Kingsbury Creek that runs through our zoo grounds.
It has encompassed several of our exhibits, including our Polar Shores area. We did have two seals escape this morning, Vivienne and Feisty. They were relatively easily corralled and they are secure and they are safe and they are in their holding (area) again.
This seal is one of two that escaped from the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth during last night’s floods. It was photographed on Grand Avenue. Zoo officials say the seals were returned safely. (Photo courtesy of Kelli Latuska, via mprnews)
I know for a while there were rumors that the polar bear was out and wandering Duluth. That was not the case. Berlin did get out of her exhibit. She did not get very far before the zookeepers found her and she was able to be tranquilized and she is also safe and secure and in her holding area.”
Holly Henry, the zoo’s marketing director, told msnbc.com that 11 animals have been confirmed dead. Most of the barnyard animals were the animals that died explained Holly.
Last year residents throughout the U.S. experienced flooding that engulfed houses and severely damaged roads and bridges – a very weak aspect of the U.S. already.
PBS even made the link between the extreme weather events in 2011 and global warming. However, this spring residents in Virginia witnessed their state lawmakers commission a study to determine the impacts of climate change on their shores, only to see that the House of Delegates omitted words like “climate change” and “sea level rise” from the study.
Extreme weather is affecting nearly every region of the U.S. again this summer. The most destructive wildfire in Colorado history have already destroyed 55,000 acres. The wildfires in the west are being fueled by climate change.
As for the stunning deluge in Minnesota, Dr. Kevin Trenberth, former head of the Climate Analysis Section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, explained here in 2010: “There is a systematic influence on all of these weather events now-a-days because of the fact that there is this extra water vapor lurking around in the atmosphere than there used to be say 30 years ago. It’s about a 4% extra amount, it invigorates the storms, it provides plenty of moisture for these storms.” He told the NY Times, “It’s not the right question to ask if this storm or that storm is due to global warming, or is it natural variability. Nowadays, there’s always an element of both.”
— Matt Kaspar