ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Since the turn of the century, Mother Nature has cranked it up to 11 when it comes to violent weather.
“Of the first twelve years of this century, seven of the nine worst years for extreme storms in the Midwest occurred,” said Dr. Stephen Saunders, president of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization.
He was lead author on a study called “Doubled Trouble: More Midwestern Extreme Storms”, which looked backed at the past fifty years of weather data to identify the alarming trend.
Since 1961, the report shows that Midwestern states have had an increasing number of large storms.
What’s more, storms were not only more frequent but more damaging as well.
The largest of the storms (those dropping three inches or more of precipitation in a single day) increased the most, with their annual frequency jumping by 103% since 1961.
Missouri and Illinois have both seen an increase of more than 80% in those types of rainstorms.
Dr. Saunders said their reports also clearly identifies the cause of this extreme weather trend — Global Warming.
“And now we’ve documented how great the increase has been in the Midwest and linked the extreme storms to flooding in the region,” according to Saunders. “A threshold may already have been crossed, so that major floods in the Midwest perhaps now should no longer be considered purely natural disasters but instead mixed natural/unnatural diaasters. And if emissions keep going up, the forecast is for more extreme storms in the region.”
Karen Hobbs is senior policy analyst for the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which helped compile data for the study.
She says as was made clear in Joplin, Missouri and several other places in recent years, violent storms threaten people’s property, their economy…even their lives.
“Clearly there is a need for comprehensive climate legislation that would enact mandatory limits on global warming pollution,” Hobbs said.
She also called on federal lawmakers to protect the current Clean Air Act Authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and work to overcome barriers to investment in green sources of energy.