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.
 
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.
Heavy rainstorms in northwestern Wisconsin on Monday, July 11, led to flooding throughout the region. The flooding also poses a less visible, but still significant threat: It can result in more contaminants in the area's drinking water supplies.