NOAA reports “April 2011: historic U.S. extremes in rains, floods, tornadoes, and fires”
NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center: “April was a month of historic climate extremes across much of the United States, including: record breaking precipitation that resulted in historic flooding; recurrent violent weather systems that broke records for tornado and severe weather outbreaks; and wildfire activity that scorched more than twice the area of any April this century.”
The NCDC report for April reads like something out of a book titled … oh, I don’t know, Hell and High Water.
Multiple scientific studies find that indeed the weather has become more extreme, as expected, and that it is extremely likely that humans are a contributing cause (see “Two seminal Nature papers join growing body of evidence that human emissions fuel extreme weather, flooding that harm humans and the environment” and links therein).
Equally important, human-caused climate change is exacerbating the extreme events we would normally experience — by making deluges more intense (because of the extra water vapor in the atmosphere) and by making droughts hotter.
“All extreme weather events are now subject to human influence,” said Dr. Peter Gleick, a climate & water scientist and president of the Pacific Institute, at a Capitol Hill briefing on Monday organized by the American Meteorological Society. “We are loading the dice and painting higher numbers on them.”
As the reinsurer Munich Re put in in September, “The only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change”
The staggering reality of the Mississippi flooding has consumed most of the extreme weather news, otherwise the news stories would be all about how a “record breaking 1.79 million acres burned across the country during the month”:
Back in mid-april I reported how an “unprecedented drought” is driving “never-before-seen wildfire situation in Texas.” Now meteorologist Dr. Jeff Masters reports today at Weather Underground that the “Great Texas drought of 2011 intensifies“: