Severe Weather Rages Across U.S.

Climate change may have more of an Impact on extreme weather than we think.

This+pattern+shows+temperature+changes+from+1850+to+2020.

This pattern shows temperature changes from 1850 to 2020.

This winter, extreme weather has rocked the United States. Wildfires raged across the West Coast. Before winter break, tornadoes wreaked havoc across the Midwest. The most infamous and destructive of these leveled a candle factory in Kentucky on December 11, 2021.  As of late, the East Coast has been rocked by blizzards and the Nor’easter that slammed New England. Here, a blizzard closed I-95 for over 14 hours, stranding motorists on the interstate.

Scientists believe that severe weather may be caused by climate change. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) defines climate change as, “a change in the state of the climate that can be identified by changes in the mean and/or variability of its properties, and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer.” They go on to explain that climate change “refers to any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity.”

The rising temperatures lead to more extreme weather than there was roughly over 50 years ago, according to the National Climate Assessment. According to Ready.gov, “Severe weather can include hazardous conditions produced by thunderstorms, including damaging winds, tornadoes, large hail, flooding and flash flooding, and winter storms associated with freezing rain, sleet, snow, and strong winds.” This is due to the fact that warmer weather holds more water than dry air, making hurricanes worse. Even last year, this could be seen, for example when Hurricane Ida hit the U.S. and when sea levels reached a new high. Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc in the South-Eastern part of the U.S. and Hurricane Katrina from 2005 is still remembered as one of the most destructive and fatal. It isn’t just water-based events that will get worse; droughts will become more extreme from here, according to scientists. California has been the most prominent example of this. Recently the state suffered under a four-year drought from 2012-2016 that caused a major water shortage which can lead to public health and safety issues. Even as recently as January (which is normally a rainy month) things were drier than usual.

 

The Earth has warmed 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit and every decade, the sea level rises about two inches every year. We have been hit with more severe hurricanes and tropical storms due to these changes in temperature. As sea levels rise and storms get more intense, the likelihood of worse flooding rises as well.

“From the ocean depths to mountain tops, from melting glaciers to relentless extreme weather events, ecosystems and communities around the globe are being devastated,” Said UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the COP26 (the UN climate conference in Glasgow). Scientists believe that severe weather will continue to slam the U.S. and the world as a whole.