Meteorologists cautioned that no one should read too much into one storm. But the Atlantic Ocean is unusually warm for this time of year, they said, creating excess moisture in the atmosphere that can swiftly build a powerful rainstorm.
Paul Epstein, associate director of Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment, said the Atlantic is warming faster than scientists projected even a decade ago, and he expects such storms as the one seen this week from Virginia to New York to become common.
"Scientists and climatologists are looking at one another and we're just stunned because no one, even in the 1990s, projected the magnitude of the storms and degree of warming in the Arctic that we are seeing," he said.
Epstein sees a clear pattern: rain has increased in the United States by 7 percent in three decades; heavy rain events of more than 2 inches (5 cm) a day are up 14 percent and storms dumping more than 4 inches (10 cm) a day rose 20 percent.
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Categories: climatechange, weather, science
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