Is climate change causing California’s storms, flooding? It’s complex. – USA TODAY

by | Jan 9, 2023 | Climate Change

California faces a “parade of storms” over the next several weeks, on top of deluges that have killed at least 12 people, caused flooding, knocked out power and forced evacuations and school closures up and down the coast.Given the Mediterranean climate of the state’s coastal areas, wet winters and dry summers are a natural part of California’s weather patterns going back millennia.But are this year’s storms something out of the ordinary, and something that can be attributed to climate change? In a state that is home to almost 40 million people with a $3.6 trillion economy – on track to be the fourth-biggest in the world – the weather matters.Here’s what to know.What’s happening in California with the storms?President Joe Biden declared a federal emergency Sunday to aid California, which is in the thick of what National Weather Service meteorologists have called a “conveyer belt” of storms. The first one hit New Year’s Eve, the next began Friday and lasted through the weekend, and another lashed coastal areas Sunday night through Monday. Several more are on the way.A drier pattern doesn’t seem likely until Jan. 20 at least, Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a news conference Monday.CALIFORNIA AND CLIMATE:Experts warn of a disaster ‘larger than any in world history’ Are California’s storms normal?California’s coastal climate is naturally marked by wet winters and dry summers, but that pattern contains a large amount of variability. The historical record as well as paleoclimatological studies examining patterns over millennia show periods of severe drought and periods of extreme wetness.The drought of the past several years has been extreme. Last January, February and March were the driest three months in recorded state history in terms of rainfall and snowfall.Because much of the state has been in a drought for so long, many residents either have forgotten, or never experienced, just how wet things can get. The last truly wet period was in the 1990s.But in reality, California’s climate is intrinsically …

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