Climate change increases the risk of record-breaking extreme weather events that threaten communities across the country. In 2011, there were 3,251 monthly weather records broken by extreme events that struck communities in the US. Check out the interactive map below to find out what events hit your area.

Extreme weather events and climate change

2011 has been a year of unparalleled extremes: 14 disastrous weather events have resulted in over a billion dollars in property damage – an all-time record breaking number – and their estimated $53 billion price tag doesn’t include health costs. As shown recently, in a first-of-its-kind study published in the journal Health Affairs1, when health-related costs of extreme events are calculated, the total tally increases substantially and will likely continue to climb due to climate change. 7 of the 2011 extreme events – a record-high number – are the type expected to worsen due to climate change.

Climate scientists are saying that these events may be part of a troubling trend influenced by climate change2. This trend has also been identified by the international reinsurance company MunichRe [PDF]; they concluded that from 1980 through 2011, the frequency of extreme events in the U.S. is rising.3 A newly-released analysis by international climate scientists (IPCC)4 concluded that climate change will amplify extreme heat, heavy precipitation, and the highest wind speeds of tropical storms.

We need to be prepared. Emergency planning must incorporate risks from climate change. For example, maps describing flooding zones need to account for increased risks caused by extreme rainfall and sea level rise resulting from climate change. While these plans are made at the local level, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) must also prioritize addressing and preparing for climate change by providing guidance and resources to state and local governments.

Protect your family from extreme weather:

Check out our maps to find out how vulnerable your community may be to the effects of climate change.

Methods for Developing NRDC's "Extreme Weather Map 2011"

Listen to a recording of the telepresser event announcing NRDC's Extreme Weather Mapping Tool, recorded on December 8, 2011

Top 2011 Record-breaking Maximum Temperatures, by County

Alabama - Kentucky
Louisiana - North Dakota
Ohio - Wyoming

Top 2011 Record-breaking Minimum Temperatures, by County

Alabama - Kentucky
Louisiana - North Dakota
Ohio - Wyoming

Top 2011 Record-breaking Rainfalls, by County

Alabama - Kentucky
Louisiana - North Dakota
Ohio - Wyoming

Top 2011 Record-breaking Snowfalls, by County

Alabama - Kentucky
Louisiana - North Dakota
Ohio - Wyoming

Data source: NOAA - National Climatic Data Center

  1. Knowlton K, Rotkin-Ellman M, Geballe L, Max W, Solomon G. 2011 (in press). Health costs of six climate change-related events in the United States, 2002-2009. Health Affairs, 2011; 30(11) p.2167-2176. reference
  2. Carey J. Storm warnings: extreme weather is a product of climate change. Scientific American [online, June 28-30, 2011 (3-part series)]. Available at: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=extremeweathercaused-by-climate-change reference
  3. Munich Re. 2011. Half-Year Natural Catastrophe Review, July 12, 2011. MR NatCatSERVICE. Available at: http://www.munichreamerica.com/webinars/2011_07_natcatreview/MR_III_2011_HalfYear_NatCat_Review.pdf reference
  4. IPCC Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation, Summary for Policymakers, approved and released Nov. 18, 2011. reference

Download the map graphic: JPG | PDF

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