Saturday, April 23, 2016

“The New Abnormal” – The Latest Houston Flood Disaster’s Climate Context

The Space City Weather blog interpreted this National Weather Service map representing total rainfall on Monday, April 18, 2016: “…[A] large swath of Texas from Lockhart nearly all the way to the center of Houston received in excess of 10 inches. Some isolated areas recorded nearly 20 inches of rain in less than a day.”  (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
This week’s catastrophic flooding in and around Houston – which claimed at least eight lives, officials reported – calls for climate context.

It’s way too early, of course, for any scientific analyses of the sort that researchers call “attribution studies” – attempts to calculate how much, if any, influence manmade climate change may have had on a particular weather event.

Scientists, however, are increasingly pointing in general terms to links between warming temperatures due to carbon pollution, more water vapor in the air, and extreme downpours.

“Near-record atmospheric moisture levels”
“Suffice it to say, this was a very significant flooding storm, and delivered on the near-record atmospheric moisture levels that had been building up over Houston during the last few days,” meteorologist and science journalist Eric Berger’s Space City Weather blog reported.

The latest Houston inundation, according to an item posted Monday, qualified as that region’s “worst flooding event in nearly 15 years, since Tropical Storm Allison [in 2001] deluged the upper Texas coast and dumped in excess of 30 inches of rain over parts of the city.”

That blog post didn’t address climate change regarding the latest flood disaster to strike Houston, but a prominent Texas climate expert did.

“The new abnormal”
The Texas state climatologist, John Nielsen-Gammon of Texas A&M University, told Vice News on Monday that an upward trend in heavy downpours over Texas and other parts of the south-central U.S. is “the new abnormal.”

Read more at “The New Abnormal” – The Latest Houston Flood Disaster’s Climate Context

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