Jenna Ladd | May 2, 2017
Flooding and tornados swept across the Midwest and southern U.S. this weekend, leaving at least 14 people dead.
The National Weather Service reported that four tornados moved through eastern Texas beginning Saturday evening. The twisters left an area of destruction 35 miles long and 15 miles wide in Van Zandt County, according to Canton, Texas Mayor Lou Ann Everett. Primarily small towns were affected in the mostly rural area east of Dallas; four individuals lost their lives.
Strong winds and flooding in Arkansas took the lives of five residents near Madison county. Four additional deaths were reported in Missouri and Mississippi, also due to flash flooding and strong winds.
Tragically, severe weather events like these are becoming more common as climate change rears its ugly head. According to archived data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s webpage prior to President Trump’s inauguration, “In recent years, a larger percentage of precipitation has come in the form of intense single-day events.” Similarly, the amount of precipitation falling on the heaviest rain days has increased in the last few decades. Many regions of the U.S. are seeing significantly more severe river flooding, while other areas are ravaged by drought. The Midwest, Great Plains, and Northeast have seen a significant increase in flooding, but the Southwest has experienced a decrease.
Scientists are still evaluating the relationship between climate change and twisters. The EPA notes that climate change does lead to stronger and more frequent thunderstorms, which can cause tornados, but there is a lack of empirical data on the matter.
Researchers can confidently conclude that climate change has caused more intense and frequent heat waves, fewer frequent and less intense cold waves, and regional changes in floods, droughts, and wildfires.