Do you worry that severe weather is becoming less of a fluke?

It was a stormy season even before the heavy rains and resulting floods that struck Duluth over the past day and a half. Today’s Question: Do you worry that severe weather is becoming less of a fluke?

  • Kurt


  • Steve the Scenic
  • John

    As communication has improved so has reporting of events.

    Only 30 years ago Doppler radar wasn’t very prevalent but today “smart” Doppler can identify tornado signatures, and they are reported as tornados. So therefore, for example, tornados over the last decades have increased because before the technology didn’t exist to find them.

  • Emery

    Yes. The climate is getting warmer due mainly to anthropogenic pressures. The consensus amongst almost every single publishing expert for the last 40 years has been pointing towards it.

    I am not a climate scientist so I have to rely on the research done by experts. Nor am I an economist, so I have to rely on the expertise of those who know far better than I about economic matters. Unlike economics, which is a social science, natural sciences are far less subjective and their results far less prone to mistake.

  • Jim G

    Yes. It’s the dew-point that I believe is the predictive number. I have noticed increasingly uncomfortably high dew-points. We’re running the air-conditioner not because the temperature is high, but the air is just too humid. The higher dew points measure an increase in water in the lower atmosphere. Warmer air can hold more water. The more water in the atmosphere, plus increases in polluting particulates on which the the water condenses means more rain. Rain that falls at a higher rate in smaller areas rather than more gentle rains over larger areas. I’m sorry for those affected by the deluges this week, but we’re all in this together, sooner rather than later.

  • matt

    What good does it do to worry about such a thing? If you believe it is becoming less of a fluke change/vote/protest/move/purchase/build/medicate in whatever way you feel necessary. To worry is to accept unfavorable conditions without effort to change those conditions.

  • Ann

    What would the people who went through the dust bowl say? What would the people who went through the big Missouri earthquake say? There are a lot of examples of weather extremes and disasters from the past. The media hypes our weather to the point where people believe things have changed. Some of us have noted on this opinion page that scientists were screaming in the 1960’s that we were all going to freeze to death because the weather was getting colder.I never worry about Minnesota drying up–the rains always come eventually and usually it is too much for me.

  • Byron

    Before humans the weather was better.

  • Steve the Cynic

    I worry a lot more about how science is being politicized by ideologues.

  • georges

    No need to worry that severe weather is becoming less of a fluke.

    Now, if it was becoming less of a tapeworm, we may have to consider widespread panic.

  • Wally

    Today, tornadoes tear through neighborhoods that, a century ago, were open land.

    In 1925, the Tri-State Tornado killed nearly 700 (that were known). Are there more tornadoes? Worse tornadoes? Maybe, maybe not.

    We seem to have have “100 year floods” every couple years. But how can you predict such when statistics only go back 200 or 300 years, at least in this country? And there have been floods in China’s history and the Asian sub-continent that killed hundreds of thousands.

    But we like to build in flood plains. Are there more floods? Worse floods? Maybe, maybe not.

    Are there a lot of “radar-indicated” tornadoes leading to warnings, and no damage? Of course, but better to play it safe.

  • GregX

    Statistically speaking – no – all of this is bound to happen in the bell-curve of possible events. Our ability to collect, collate and report more events from more places more quickly doesnt mean that it is occuring more. It means we are aware of it more quickly.

  • bea

    Yes, and yes. I agree that “just” worrying isn’t helpful, but I find it impossible to ignore the extreme magnitude of events we’ve seen in recent years (as reported in the context of long-term data)– and I don’t simply mean the human impact due to our fondness for building in flood plains. The Christmas snowstorm would have been extreme even if there had been no Metrodome to collapse. The fires that raged through Texas for weeks last summer. The Joplin tornado (magnitude, not simply human damage). The extremely warm spring in much of the nation this year. And on and on. In context, yes, it’s too much to ignore.

  • bea

    @Jim G, I agree about the dew points. Last summer’s unbearable humidity wave brought the topic to MPR’s Updraft blog:


    And the old record isn’t even that old.

  • bea

    Hmm, pasting didn’t work. Craig Edwards’ Updraft posts (Aug 1-2) stated that last summer by August 1 we had surpassed two old dew point records: for the number of hours of dew points over 70 and 75 degrees (set in 2002 and 2001, respectively).

  • Barry O

    Yes, clearly George W Bush is to blame.

  • Regnar James

    A good Boy Scout— “Be Prepared”

    Weather, economy, corrupt leaders, car accident, famine, health problems.

    Mitigate the effects of all that threatens you.

    And, yes the weather is getting funky… can’t change it anytime soon…. Live with it:-)


  • Steve the Cynic

    Worry is not a bad thing if it’s a motivation for productive action.

  • Jim G

    What worries me about severe weather changes?

    Ignorance about scientific knowledge and findings about our increasingly violent weather pattern doesn’t worry me. Education can remedy ignorance if the learner isn’t blinded by ideology or the economic benefit for doing nothing. As scientific knowledge spreads, efforts to mitigate damages caused by more severe weather can then commence.

    Willful ignorance of this new reality hurts not only the ignorant but the innocent. This volitional ignorance blocks rational policy from being implemented. I suggest this willful behavior is deliberate misinformation, and it is the true reason for the many polemic arguments against climate change. This ignores the overwhelming metrics supporting the observed changes in our weather. That’s what really worries me.

  • JasonB

    Not really. The up-down cyclic nature of weather is what really governs the short term attitudes about it. Unless an event was something that really hit someone personally or was a record setting sensation like the ‘Super Storm’ of 1987 most will not even remember it.

    One should only worry about the things that can be changed. If one is truly worried about weather extremes then I’d suggest getting more involved in supporting efforts to reduce man-made global warming or any other weather affecting practices .

    What gets me is when we have a period of unusually good weather and people start to feel guilty about it. It must be that Scandinavian ‘we-don’t-deserve-this’ attitude. Thank goodness for a local meteorologist’s response when asked if we’ll pay for the nice weather we had during this last winter. He said that we already have – with the previous two winters. It’s all about memory and perspective.

  • Ann

    I would like to add to my comments today. I hope that those of you who are concerned about global warming are not eating cows. Do a search on the Internet for the information on a cow’s effect on global warming and on the environment in general. I think MPR and the other media are too afraid to give us this information. Does MPR really give us unbiased reports when they don’t ask experts to talk about this? Maybe reports have been done and I missed them…..

  • Steve the Cynic

    Yes, Ann, I heard about the contribution methane from cows makes to global warming on public radio. As a result, I’ve been eating less beef. They’re not hiding anything.

  • Bill

    The earth is estimated to be 4.5 billion years old.

    Since 1971 the Fujita-Pearson Scale has been used to measure tornados, 42 years ago. The telephone was invented in 1876 but most people didn’t have one until the early 1900’s. For maybe 5000 years man has been keeping track of some things but that’s just a short time frame in the life here on earth. There have been ups and downs in temperature and storms over time. It will continue, with or without us.

  • GregX

    Bill – yes the earth will exist with our without us. but … should we choose to continue living on it – we have some self-serving interest in understanding the “manual” and what impact our actions or those of the planet will have on our success at remaining.

  • Kurt

    Before there were cows vast herds of Bison roamed the great plains of North America and in Africa Wildabeast blackened the plains, but because they never farted there was no global warming then.

  • Steve the Cynic

    The methane from ruminants doesn’t come from their farts, Kurt, but from their burps.

  • Kurt

    Well that changes everything!

  • Steve the Cynic

    What, did you think I was adducing that as evidence of something, Kurt? Sometimes an interesting fact is just an interesting fact. (That, and I’d hate to see such an eminent and distinguished scientist as yourself continue to hold mistaken ideas about bovine biology).


  • jockamo

    Methane produced in ruminants is emmited from both ends.

    North AND south. Not equally. But both.

    Of course, a bloviating bombastic bovine biological specialist given to illogical self-pufferation would not be able to understand the facts.

  • Kurt

    Someday Steve, you are going to be right about something. I won’t be holding my breath though.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Yes, I realize it comes out the other end, too, but the bulk of it comes out the mouth. Not that it makes any difference in terms of its contribution to global warming.