Minnesota’s storms worse, more worrisome

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Minnesota’s big storms are getting bigger; they’re happening more often; and the flooding they produce is more severe, two separate reports find.

Following Duluth’s record flooding, Environment Minnesota released a report examining data from 3,700 weather stations across the nation. It found “Minnesota experienced a 30% increase in the frequency of extreme rain storms from 1948-2011.” Basically, storms that happened on average every 12 months are now happening every 9.2 months. It also found Minnesota’s largest annual storms increased by 12 percent over the last 65 years.

“We need to heed scientists’ warnings that this dangerous trend is linked to global warming, and do everything we can to cut carbon pollution today,” said Ken Bradley, Policy Director for Environment Minnesota Research and Policy Center.

In a separate, unrelated report, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (PDF, Ch.1, p13) cited warming temperatures over the last 30 years as a guide for future road and bridge construction and repair.

It anticipates that as the climate changes it will bring periods of simultaneous drought and flood that will take a toll on roadways and transportation facilities, impacting road design, run-off ponds, and other mitigation efforts. More sever flood damaged roads have cost Minnesota on average $2 million per year over the last decade.

Such repairs drain investment from a transportation system that already has more needs than the state can afford. Now add in the 100s of millions areas like the Northland will have to pay for those one-time weather events.

Minnesota Public Radio also examined the new 30-year climate normals which show “[T]he overall average temperature in January rose 2.5 degrees! …Summer nights are about 1 degree warmer… [and] annual precipitation has increased 1.2″ for MSP.”

When it comes to most Hindsight readers, I realize I’m preaching to the choir. But for you climate change skeptics, here is something else to think about. The other day I came across a cartoon with a bubble message that read: “What if it’s a big hoax and we create a better planet for nothing?”

Even if you think the warming trend is all a hoax or quirk of nature, wouldn’t you at least try to live sustainability for the selfish reason of breathing clean air, drinking safe water, and growing food in fertile soil? Wouldn’t you want to reduce waste to prevent more landfills?

Science aside, to me, that just seems like common sense.