What’s Up With That?… Thoughts on Severe Storms

It happened again this week! A heavy rainstorm hit our area of the upper midwest! It seems to be almost a weekly occurrence. This time we got almost 4 inches of rain in just a couple of hours last Monday morning!

We live in a region of the country susceptible to wide variations in temperatures and precipitation. Is it our imagination that storms that wreak havoc with high winds, hail, and fast heavy downpours are occurring more frequently?

What do you think is up with that?

According to climate science, storms are becoming more severe and more frequent. This changing weather pattern IS due to climate change.

Heavy downpours are already common, but climate change is expected to intensify storms and lead to greater precipitation across the entire region during this century. Annual precipitation has already risen by as much as 20% in some areas.

https://climatechange.chicago.gov/climate-impacts/climate-impacts-midwest

The problem is that our area of Wisconsin is still growing beyond what is reasonable or imaginable. Ditches are being dug out where they should not be and water is being diverted from its natural course. The result is what we saw happen Monday morning in a dry creek bed next to our home.

A creek bed that’s usually dry, flooding after a severe thunderstorm last Monday. A walking trail is obliterated by the water. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2022.

We’ve lived in this house for 16 years. During that time, a subdivision and a retention pond has been built within sight of our yard. When we first moved in, a heavy rainstorm was fairly rare, occurring only every few years. But, recently the storms have been increasing in severity and frequency. Last August, we had a storm that washed out our new driveway on a sloped lot. It was a storm in which we got seven inches of rain in a day. Two weeks ago we had another heavy rainstorm and then one again this past Monday. We are concerned about erosion on our driveway, as well as flooding of fields (crops will not grow in flooded fields), lack of drainage causing incubation of insect-borne disease, and stagnancy, as well as washing nutrients away and chemicals into the groundwater where people have wells.

Previously dry creek bed after severe storm this past week.

So what do we do?

We have to adapt. Humans have to change. Municipal foresight for these increasingly occurring problems needs to consider changing how towns expand, where roads are placed, what fields are turned into housing developments, and where the water naturally drains off to. So far, we aren’t seeing much of that occurring. Our town continues to expand at an exponential rate. Are the climate change scientists being ignored? Or is it denial for the sake of profit?

Water is powerful!

Although I do not know enough to make specific suggestions for change, as an environmental educator I can see the need for change. If we don’t change our behaviors, the storms will continue to get worse and our lives will be affected in more ways than are imaginable. What I can ask you to do is learn about climate change and sustainability. We must be conscious of our actions and their effect on the environment. I think our very lives depend on it.

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