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WeatherTalk: Recent floods illustrate the difference between climate and weather

The fact that these types of floods are becoming increasingly common is a direct result of the changing climate.

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FARGO — Early in the morning of July 26, a stalled out narrow line of thunderstorms produced hour after hour of heavy rain through St. Louis, Missouri. Up to a foot of rain fell, causing devastating flooding. Two days later, a similar storm complex dumped similar rain amounts onto eastern Kentucky. This past Tuesday, a third slow-moving storm complex caused another devastating flood in southern Illinois. Individually or taken as a group, these three floods should not be considered a result of our changing climate.

However, the fact that these types of floods are becoming increasingly common is a direct result of the changing climate. Our warming atmosphere has an increasing amount of water vapor and the changing global dynamics are resulting in an increase of these sorts of slow-moving or stalled weather systems. Weather has always been prone to extremes, but our changing climate is producing more of this kind of extreme weather.

Related Topics: WEATHER
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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