Cats and Dogs and Climate Change

Thanks to a warmer atmosphere, heavy rainfall is happening more often.

June 01, 2015

After a week of deadly floods, Texas is finally getting some sunshine today. The state just had its wettest May on record. El Niño is partly to blame for the recent deluge, but a warmer atmosphere is able to hold more moisture, and as climate change rears its ugly head, the United States could see more frequent record-breaking rainfalls.

According to a new analysis by Climate Central, 40 of the lower 48 states have experienced an upswing in downpours since 1950. The biggest increases have been in the Northeast and Midwest, which have seen 31 percent and 16 percent more extremely wet days, respectively. This animation shows the timing of the top 10 precipitation days at more than 3,000 locations across the country. The dots start as a gentle sprinkle before becoming more widespread, frequent, and intense—just like the raindrops they symbolize.

onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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