Reporting Alex DeMetrick
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — If you think storms seem to be more powerful, a new study out Tuesday backs up that feeling. Alex DeMetrick reports more storms packing more punch are increasing.
A year and a half ago, it was blizzards. Two weeks ago, heavy downpours.
“The mid-Atlantic has experienced a 55% increase in these type of events between 1948 and 2011,” said Environment Maryland Director Tommy Landers.
That’s the findings of this study by Environment Maryland that reviewed precipitation data from 4,000 reporting stations over 65 years.
“Something is happening in our atmosphere. Now there are cyclical changes in our weather patterns. However, something is still happening outside of that,” said meteorologist Bernadette Woods.
The prime suspect in the study is global warming.
“Water vapor is the fuel that drives storms. Warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor and so as you get a warmer world, there’s more likelihood a storm will pick up energy and turn into an extreme downpour,” said Dr. Ben Zaitchik, Johns Hopkins University Earth and Planetary Sciences.
The climate may be changing, but can critical infrastructure change to handle it? The powerful winds of the derecho thunderstorms last month and the blizzards of “snowmageddon” took heavy tolls on power lines.
“BGE and Pepco are living in the last century. That’s the reason we’ve sufferend hundreds of millions of dollars in economic damage in this state in just the last month, because they haven’t prepared for this new climate,” said Senator James Rosapepe.
Even with the record drought in the west and midwest, when it does rain…
“We’re going to see a continuing increase of these kinds of extreme events in the future,” Zaitchnik said.
The Environment Maryland study links global warming to human activity and urges government action to curb the greenhouse gases it says are causing it.