In a world of climate change, freak storms are the new normal. Why we’re unprepared for the harrowing future.
Those are the headlines from a recent Newsweek piece. And the extreme weather keeps coming — from more record flooding in the MidWest, a record-smashing deluge in California, and devastating heat, drought and wild fires in the Southwest:
Figure 1. Active wildfires and smoke as visualized at 9am EDT June 7, 2011 using our wundermap for the U.S. with the Fire layer turned on. Smoke from the Wallow fire and Horseshoe Two fire in Arizona extended more than 1,000 miles, covering most of the Midwest. [Via Masters]
DR. JEFF MASTERS, meteorologist: We have never seen a year like this before….
KATHARINE HAYHOE, climate scientist: As it gets warmer, the air can hold more water vapor. So whenever a storm comes through, there’s more water available to that storm, whether it’s rainfall in the summer or even snowfall in the winter.
We’re also seeing shifts in our weather patterns and circulation patterns. So, some places that are already quite dry are getting dryer. Other places that are already quite wet are getting wetter. And some places can even experience increases in heavy rainfall events and droughts at the same time, because if a lot of the water vapor comes down in a few storms then you have a longer dry period in between before you get the next one.
For a review of the recent scientific literature, see “Two seminal Nature papers join growing body of evidence that human emissions fuel extreme weather, flooding that harm humans and the environment.“ For a discussion of the tornado-climate link, see “Tornadoes, extreme weather, and climate change.” For another head-exploding move from the GOP climate zombies, see Brad Johnson’s post at TP Green: “As Floods And Fires Mount, House Forbids FEMA, Coast Guard From Preparing For Climate Disasters.”
UPDATE: I am adding two reader comments, from CAP’s Western expert, Tom Kenworthy, and from Joan Savage with a link to the uber-fires in Russia.
I can’t keep up with all the record-smashing extreme weather the country is being ravaged by, so I’m going to excerpt a couple of recent posts from former Hurricane Hunter Masters: