Alabama news sites have been reporting all day on the intense storms and powerful tornadoes that have been ripping through Huntsville, Alabama. They're already being called part of one of the "deadliest tornado outbreaks in recent memory." As of this morning, the death toll was already up to 8, with at least 82 injuries, 7 of which were considered critical. And these "killer tornadoes" during just the first four months of 2011 have already claimed more lives than all of last year, according to the country's Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma. And last night, nearly 100 tornadoes may have claimed another 100 lives in "Dixie Alley."
This may all sound like it's the synopsis of a movie about the apocalypse, but it's not. And the thing is ... scientists have been warning us about this EXTREME weather for a few years now.
Think about it ... wasn't it just a few months ago we were experiencing "Snowpocalypses" every, what, two weeks?! And the same thing went down winter 2009-2010.
In 2007, climate change scientists warned that global warming was likely to increase the severity of storms in parts of the U.S. (Anyone else see that prediction, uhm, eerily coming true?) Specifically, Robert Trapp, a professor from Purdue said:
It seems that areas in the U.S. prone to severe thunderstorms now will likely have more of them in the future.
You know those climate change naysayers who insist that because we've had some of the coldest, snowiest winters lately, that sure doesn't sound like global "warming" to them?? Well, the science proves them ... ignorant. Or at least, misinformed. Because climate change just isn't "global warming," as in higher temps. It also translates to crazy intense storms. Trapp's collaborator, Noah Diffenbaugh elaborated:
It is easy to look at global warming just in terms of the average increase in temperature, but the effects are much more far-reaching ... a few degrees of global warming could make these severe events much more common than they are today.
Then there was another warning from an environmental advocacy group in 2007 that noted how New England in particular has seen a 61 percent increase in extreme rainstorms in the last 60 years. Guess what will exacerbate the weather pattern? You guessed it -- climate change!
I recall reading the occasional headline about this four years ago, but it was obviously downplayed by the media. (Hello, special interests frequently -- literally -- run the show.) Given the hard facts and science of climate change, it's actually not at all surprising that weather has taken such a severe turn for the worse. That doesn't make it any less SCARY, of course. But here's how I look at it -- at least we have a reason, an explanation for why these storms are ravaging parts of the country. And an impetus to truly change, if we want to reverse this precarious course we appear to be on.
Here's footage of one of the tornadoes ripping through Huntsville, Alabama ...
Do you agree that climate change is triggering these brutal storms?
Image via NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr