Extreme Weather

September 9, 2011 • Volume 21, Issue 31
Is global warming causing severe storms?
By Chanan Tigay


Hundreds of cars sit stranded on Chicago's Lake Shore Drive (Getty Images/Scott Olson)
Hundreds of cars sit stranded on Chicago's Lake Shore Drive after the city was hit with heavy winds and more than 20 inches of snow Feb. 2. The blizzard was part of a historic winter storm that battered the country from New England to the Midwest. (Getty Images/Scott Olson)

The United States has suffered record-breaking floods along the Mississippi River this year, plus giant snowstorms from the Midwest to the Northeast, massive wildfires in the West and South, deadly tornadoes in the South and Midwest and an extended drought in a quarter of the contiguous United States. A similar pattern of extreme weather occurred in 2010. And the U.S. is far from alone. Worldwide, weather- and climate-related disasters last year left nearly 70,000 people dead and inflicted nearly $100 billion in damages. The reasons behind the surge in extreme weather are open to debate, but a scientific consensus is emerging that global warming is the culprit. In some locales scientists are fighting back. In bone-dry Abu Dhabi, for example, they are trying to create summer rainstorms through a new version of cloud seeding. But experts say that as the planet warms, extreme weather — with its immense human and financial toll — is likely to continue.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Weather Forecasting
Sep. 09, 2011  Extreme Weather
Jun. 15, 1990  Progress in Weather Forecasting
Sep. 05, 1980  Weather Control
Feb. 02, 1979  Weather Forecasting
Jul. 12, 1974  World Weather Trends
Apr. 13, 1960  Weather Forecasting and Control
Oct. 19, 1953  Weather Modification
Atmospheric Sciences