Recent weather disasters affected 90 percent of Virginians, may become more common


Number of weather-related disasters by county from 2006-2011 across the U.S. (Environment America)

The report, In the Path of the Storm: Global Warming, Extreme Weather, and the Impacts of Weather-Related Disasters in the United States, examined county-level weather-related disaster data from the Federal Emergency Managment Agency from 2006 through 2011 and described the possible effects of global warming on future weather extremes.


Number of extreme weather events by county in Virginia. (Environment Virginia)

Nationwide extreme weather disasters led to $55 billion in economic damages across the country in 2011.

“Global warming will likely fuel even more extreme weather,” said Nathan Willcox, Environment America’s federal global warming program director.

Tony Dutzik, a Senior Policy Analyst at Frontier Group, who worked on the report, noted global warming is projected to bring:

* more heavy downpours, and heavy snows where it’s sufficiently cold
* more intense heat waves
* more intense hurricanes with heavier rains
* more destructive storm effects due to environmental changes such as sea level rise

New studies released this week by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) provide further support for the report’s findings.

The MIT study found ‘100-year floods’ may happen every three to 20 years with global warming.

The LLNL study found previously rare summer temperatures are already occurring more frequently in parts of the Lower 48 states and their models project these scorching temperatures will occur in well more than 50 percent of summers by mid-century.

At an unveiling of the report in Alexandria, Va., Sarah Bucci, Environment Virginia’s federal field organizer, joined by James Kinter, director of the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies in Calverton, Md. who also teaches at George Mason University, and Linda Burchfiel (cq), the chair of the Northern Virginia Climate Action Network, urged the Obama administration to cut carbon pollution.

“ Carbon pollution from power plants, cars and light trucks contribute to global warming,” said Bucci

The administration is finalizing both new carbon pollution and fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, and the Environmental Protection Agency is working on carbon pollution standards for coal-fired power plants.

A similar event was held in Annapolis, Md.

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