ENVIRONMENT

Report: R.I. storms linked to global warming

Posted 8/2/12

PROVIDENCE - A new environmental report on the Ocean State has confirmed that extreme rainstorms and snowstorms are happening 90 percent more frequently in Rhode Island than they did in the past.

The new report - When It Rains, It Pours: Global Warming and the Increase in Extreme Precipitation from 1948 to 2011 - looked at the trends in both the frequency and the total amount of precipitation produced by extreme rain and snow storms across the United States.

According to the information from the National Climatic Data Center, the report found that heavy downpours and snowstorms that used to occur annually now happen every 6.3 months, and the storms are getting bigger.

The biggest storms in the region produce 26 percent more precipitation than they did 65 years ago, according to the report.

Scientists concluded that the rise in the frequency and severity of heavy rain and snowstorms is linked to global warming.

Warming increases evaporation and enables the atmosphere to hold more water, providing more fuel for extreme rainstorms and heavy snowstorms.

Storms with extreme precipitation increased in frequency by 85 percent in the New England region from 1948 to 2011.

Nationally, the New England region ranked highest for the largest increase in the frequency of storms with heavy precipitation.

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