2011 An Exceptional Year for Extreme Weather Events

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

Extreme Weather Map

Climate change increases the risk of record-breaking extreme weather events that threaten communities across the country. In 2011, there were at least 2,941 monthly weather records broken by extreme events that struck communities in the United States. Natural Resources Defense Council maintains an interactive extreme weather map that shows the record-breaking extreme events that occurred in each of the 50 states during 2011. 14 of these weather events in the United States year have exceeded a billion dollars in property damage – an all-time record breaking number – and their estimated $53 billion price tag doesn’t include health costs. The frequency and intensity of some extreme events is likely to worsen with climate change.

In West Virginia, we experienced the following in 2011:
  • Record-breaking heat in 12 counties and a total of 12 broken heat records
  • Record-breaking rainfall in 6 counties and a total of 8 broken rainfall records
  • Record-breaking snow in 3 counties and a total of 3 broken snowfall records

With indisputable trends such as these, it soon will be difficult to define “normal” weather: “extreme” will become the new “normal.” Unfortunately, 2012 is unlikely to be any better, with respect either to the number of extreme weather events or the [un]willingness of political leaders to do anything to address climate change.