By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
As manmade greenhouse gases trap the Sun’s heat in our planet’s atmosphere, causing global warming and climate change, weather has become increasingly extreme and unpredictable. Just this past week, the New York town of Smithfield was hit by the second-deadliest tornado in the state’s history since at least 1950. It left 40,000 people without power, tragically claimed 4 lives, knocked over trees, and ripped buildings out of the ground.
Meteorologists (weather scientists) from the United Nations (UN) have concluded that farmers, governments, energy companies, and public safety groups need to completely rethink their weather preparedness strategies. What may have been acceptable guidelines for building river flood defenses, calculating average rainfall for crops, or crafting weatherproof structures are now out of date, since climate change has produced such wacky extremes.
Omar Baddour, head of the data management applications at the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO), explains, “For water resources, agriculture and energy, the old averages no longer reflect the current realities.” The WMO’s Commission for Climatology says that most modern weather planning is based on statistics from 1961-1990, and needs to be adapted for current heatwaves, heavy rains, and increasing temperatures.
Although no one can predict when a tornado is going to strike, especially the one that rapidly appeared without warning in Smithfield, New York, government officials are already starting to reevaluate their level of preparation. New York usually only sees 4-5 tornadoes a year, but they’re rarely as powerful as the 113-157 mph wind speeds that whipped up a twister in Smithfield. “We don’t get tornadoes in upstate New York,” said New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo. “This new normal is a challenge for governments, first responders and citizens in the state.”
Images courtesy of Melissa DeRosa, Director of Communications for NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, on Twitter.