Floods followed by drought; killer tornadoes. Now, a devastating superstorm.
A state climatologist sees an unstable climate system.
State Climatologist Ken Dewey with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln notes there has been a series of record-breaking disasters in the United States.
“It’s been a year of incredible extremes and some of this has got to be tied to climate change,” Dewey tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN’s Jack and Dave Show. “The question is how much and to what degree and what are the causal factors.”
Dewey points to the tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri that struck last year. Wide-spread flooding inundated the Missouri River Basin and affected much of Nebraska last year. That gave way to a withering drought which spread over much of the Corn Belt. Drought still has Nebraska in its grip.
Then, there’s Sandy.
It has even been hard for climatologists to settle on just what it is.
Sandy began as a Category One hurricane. It collided with a cold-weather system creating a huge hybrid that spawned heavy rainfall along the East Coast and heavy snowfall in West Virginia and other mountainous regions. The rain from Sandy fell as far inland as Chicago.
Sandy made landfill in New Jersey Monday evening, lashing the East Coast with 80 mph winds, killing at least 33 in nine states and cutting power to nearly 8 million homes and businesses from the Carolinas to Maine.
Along the way, Sandy set more than a few records, according to Dewey.
Sandy is the latest disaster and it isn’t just climatologists who have taken note.
“But, you don’t have to ask us,” Dewey says. “Ask the insurance industry. Year after year, for the last decade, they’ve been reeling under the cost of all the disasters that have been taking place.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:35]
AUDIO: State Climatologist Ken Dewey discusses possibility that Sandy indicates climate change. [3:30]