How Much Has U.S. Rainfall Intensity Increased and What About The Future?

| June 12, 2018 @ 9:30 am


(credit: Climate Central)

DISCUSSION: Considering the threat of a continually gradually warming planet, many parts of the Earth are going to encounter increasingly greater concerns surrounding the threat of a gradually increasing average rainfall intensity potential.  What does this mean for an average forecast on an average day? Not exactly what you may be thinking when you first hear this.  To be more specific, average rainfall intensity changes are often characterized over the course of 20 to 30 years or more whereas a given rainfall forecast is typically projected over a period approximately around 24 to 48 hours in most of the more commonplace cases.  Hence, when projections are made for longer-term rainfall trends this is often analyzed and projected for much longer duration numbers that is the case for daily forecasts. Hence, projected rainfall intensity percentages increases would not be able to be directly correlated to a given forecast on any given day during any given month of the year.

Therefore, it is imperative to understand the fact that the respective percentage changes for the precipitation intensity increases for the various U.S. state regions (as shown above) for the period between 1958 and 2016 are over a 50 + year period.  Thus, one could never feasibly apply these numbers to the next 50 years either since the global average atmospheric water vapor concentration percentage differences will also continue to change as well. So, in looking to the future (i.e., both including and beyond the scope of the additional rainfall intensity graphical projections attached later in the above article courtesy of the Climate Central Twitter team), there is no debate that average rainfall intensity and average frequency of heavier rainfall events across many towns and cities across the contiguous United States will continue to gradually increase in many cases.  The bottom line here is the fact that even though heavier rainfall intensity and frequency will both be increasing, nobody should immediately panic that this will inevitably every rainfall event of every week during each calendar month and from season-to-season for that matter.

To learn more about other interesting climate-related stories and topics from around the world, be sure to click here!

© 2018 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz

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