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Global climate change

Is Climate Change to Blame for Recent Weather Disasters?

5/25/2011, 4:30:28 AM

The natural weather disasters continue to mount up this year. Most notable to U.S. residents has been recent onslaught of deadly tornado outbreaks and the massive Spring flooding.

Is climate change to blame? Some experts say yes, others say no. I say maybe.

This question, which has been popping up all over the media in recent months is not a new one, we covered this subject after Katrina and following a number of major snowstorms and heatwaves over the past decade.


You cannot tie individual extreme weather events to climate change. There is just not enough data to support that right now.

However, most credible studies do show that climate change will lead to an increase in the frequency of these extreme weather events across the globe. In this case we are specifically talking severe thunderstorms/deadly tornadoes, drought, heat waves, intense rainfall and catastrophic flooding.

Research also indicates the climate change is likely increasing the strength of hurricanes, but not necessarily the total number.

With better storm observation tools, even the smallest, most rural tornadoes are being detected now, which was not the case over 30 years ago. Expanding populations are also putting more and more people in harm's way.

If we continue to see a steady, long-term trend increase in these horrible events over the coming years, which I believe will be the case even when you factor in the previous paragraph, then we may be able to go back and say that climate change was at least partly to blame.

This Spring's extreme severe weather in the southern U.S. was predicted by meteorologists knew by February of this year that the upcoming spring was going to be a wild one in terms of severe weather and flooding, and it was not because climate change was ongoing.

The combination of a weakening La Nina and the anticipated sharp temperature anomaly gradient between the northern U.S. and the southern U.S. told us that the jet stream running across the U.S. would be abnormally strong this spring. A strong jet stream leads to more powerful storms and thunderstorms, which increases the chances of large tornadoes and widespread flooding.

I am not downplaying climate change by any means. I personally know climate change is happening and that human actions are a main cause. There is little to debate about that.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or


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Global climate change