Series: Extreme Precipitation And Wisconsin's Climate

Climate change is already beginning to affect Wisconsin in subtle but important ways. As the average global temperature creeps upward, climatologists have projected that the Upper Midwest will experience heavier precipitation. This shift means not just a greater volume of water in the form of rain or snow, but also more intense storms happening more frequently. While climate change on its own isn't necessarily the culprit behind a given storm, its effects can intensify existing weather patterns and make long-running climatic cycles more unpredictable. While researchers work to understand how climate change interacts with seasonal cycles like El Niño and how human activities affect the outcome of catastrophic floods, communities across the state face new challenges protecting people, infrastructure and their economy.
 
While efforts after August 2018 storms focused on cleaning up and limiting flooding, Madison will need to address its vulnerability to extreme rainfall if it wants to prepare for the future.
After yet another summer of dangerous and destructive flooding, from Ino to Madison to Coon Valley, Wisconsinites seem more ready than ever to discuss how climate change is affecting the state.
With the summer of 2017 in the record books, many parts of Wisconsin are still feeling the impact of the season's wet weather.
The concept of flood recurrence intervals is a classic example of a communication gap that can form between scientists and the public.
What would happen if a devastating rainstorm that hits an area and causes damaging floods instead struck somewhere else?
Climate change is projected to make the upper Midwest a wetter place as more frequent and intense rains hit the region.
Scientists have known for a long time that major floods are becoming more common.
Between January and June 2017, more than 20 inches of rain fell in Wisconsin, enough to make the first-half of the year the second wettest on record.
Despite all the heavy rain in the first half of December, with flood warnings across parts of the state, Wisconsinites should be thankful they did not experience a downpour on the order of 5 inches in just 24 hours. Such extreme rainfall can cause damaging flooding, severe soil erosion and crop loss.
El Niño and anthropogenic climate change aren't the same thing, and climatologists stress each phenomenon’s individual effects on weather patterns and occurrences shouldn't be conflated.