Deadly Weather Here To Stay

Saturday, May 7, 2011
By Paul Martin

Deadly weather in US could become the norm

by Ferris Jabr
NewScientist.com

It’s been a severe start to the spring season in the United States. Tornadoes have ravaged the southeastern US, flooding threatens much of the Midwest, and wildfires are scorching Texas. But according to researchers, a confluence of seasonal oscillations in weather patterns, rather than climate change, is to blame. And growing populations mean that grim casualty figures from such events may become the norm.

“I don’t think there’s any way of proving climate change is responsible for the weather patterns this week and week before,” says meteorologist Howard Bluestein, of the University of Oklahoma in Norman.

Part of the cycle

Tornadoes, floods and fires occur every year in America, and the outbreak of each this year is readily explained by short-term factors.

Texas has suffered drought since late 2010, producing the driest March on record. Ground temperatures in March and April were higher than usual, shrivelling the already rain-starved vegetation. The low humidity, heat, and high winds built a perfect tinder box for wildfires, which have so far burned more than 1.4 million acres in around 800 separate blazes across Texas .

Floods are largely explained by a combination of heavy rains and melting snow. Coupled with recent severe rainstorms, the snowmelt from a very white winter of 2010-2011 has pushed waters at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to record levels, threatening communities in Missouri and Illinois. Elsewhere, the waters have already overrun their levees and inundated.

The rest…HERE

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