Is Extreme Weather The New Normal?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011
By Paul Martin

New England, Nation Experience Destructive Extremes

BOSTON — Last week temperatures in Boston neared 100 degrees in early June.

Just days before, three Massachusetts residents were killed by a deadly string of three powerful tornadoes that tore across the western part of the state, inflicting tens of millions of dollars in property damage in more than a dozen Massachusetts communities, including Springfield, Monson, Sturbridge and Brimfield.

It will be months before many families can recover.

“We are experiencing most extreme spring on record,” said Dr. Jeff Masters, a meteorologist with Weather Underground.

It’s not just an issue for New Englanders, although for us it comes on the heels of a brutally cold and snowy winter.

Across the United States, snow piles gave way to spring floods. In some parts, crops are already bone dry.

In Arizona, wildfires are burning out of control, devouring mile upon mile of land.

In Joplin, Missouri, dozens of people were killed this spring during days of severe twisters.

The destructive and powerful weather extremes has many wondering if this is Mother Nature’s new “normal.”

Our climate has definitely warmed in recent decades. And probably, increased greenhouse gasses are certainly a contributing factor, said Storm Team 5 chief meteorologist Harvey Leonard. “But we also know that our climate has also changed historically up and down. So both forces are at work and it’s a little difficult to say which one is at work more than the other.”

Some climatologists say extreme weather is not new, and is something that is here to stay for decades to come.

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