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Idaho Makes “Extreme Weather” Top 10 for 2008

December 8, 2008

Boise, ID – Idaho's winter wonderland in early October has made a list of "Top 10 Extreme Weather Events" for 2008, compiled by climate scientists and meteorologists around the country. They also analyzed weather patterns and events to find possible links to climate change, and the Idaho snow made that category, according to Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

"The fact that there's more moisture in the atmosphere means that you can actually get heavier snows as a consequence of global warming, especially at the beginning and end of the season."

Trenberth explains that higher evaporation rates happen with increased atmospheric temperatures, and lead to more moisture. Hurricane Ike, the nearly 1,500 tornadoes around the country, Midwest flooding, and the California wildfires also made the list.

Extreme weather appears isolated when it happens but, when reviewed at the end of the year, Trenberth says the links to climate change shouldn't be ignored because of the danger to life, property and the environment.

"Here are ten things that we ought to be paying attention to, and we have good reason to believe that they're being affected by global warming."

Climate change and links to weather aren't solid in every case. For example, Trenberth says, tornadoes are dependent on many factors, most of which have nothing to do with climate change, although more moisture in the air can play a role.

The complete "Top 10 Extreme Weather Events" list includes: Hurricanes Ike and Gustav, tornadoes, Midwest flooding (both in spring and summer), the Southeast drought, the California wildfires, Western snow, Colorado's heat wave, and the amount of Arctic Sea ice, which scientists say was measured at its second-lowest extent on record.

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - ID