Group Says Severe Storms Tied to Global Warming
An environmental advocacy organization says its study of weather data shows the frequency of severe storms on the rise.
A larger number of severe rainstorms have occurred across the nation during the past 60 years, according to a report from Environment Virginia, an environmental advocacy organization.
Joined by representatives from the Piedmont Environmental Council and Bike Loudoun at Raflo Park in Leesburg Tuesday, Environment Virginia field organizer Laura Kate Anderson explained that the group’s data had been compiled from the National Climatic Data Center.
Anderson said the report clearly demonstrates “an increase in the frequency and intensity of severe rainstorms,” which is “clearly liked to global warming.
“The implications of more storms are very serious,” Anderson said, explaining that larger storms result in flooding. She referred to last year’s tropical storms that left many areas of Northern Virginia under water.
The group set thresholds for what it considered to be extreme precipitation rates in each state. According to the report, storms that dropped extreme precipitation rose 30 percent across the county, with a 33 percent increase in Virginia, from 1948 to 2011. Only Oregon experienced a decline according to the group’s report.
“We found those bigger storms were skewed disproportionately to later years,” Anderson said. For Virginia, she said, that means one severe rainstorm every nine months now, compared with every 12 months about 60 years ago.
“Another key finding of our report is that rainstorms are getting bigger,” Anderson said, adding that the result could more dry spells between storms.
To combat the rise of severe storms, Environment Virginia urged the federal government to implement measures under consideration to limit carbon emission from power plants and car emissions.
“The most important thing we can do now is to reduce carbon emissions and the impacts of humans on global warming.”
Gem Bingol, a representative from the Piedmont Environmental Council, said that elected officials at the local level can help by supporting low-impact development and making smart transportation decisions, including the recent decision to participate in Metro’s Silver Line project. She also said she hopes the local jurisdictions will encourage stormwater management measures that help address the problem.
“The more localities allow growth to happen in a focused way … those are important decisions that will help to manage carbon pollution us all getting in our cars,” she said.
Clustered development can help preserve existing vegetation and trees, Bingol said, explaining that the goal is to preserve more areas where water can penetrate the ground, and to use materials that are more permeable.
Anderson said her organization was not yet sure of the impacts of global warming on wind, but that members believe there is a connection.