FEMA Warns Extreme Storms Will Be "New Normal" After Deadly Tornadoes

FEMA Warns Extreme Storms Will Be New Normal

Over the weekend, a string of tornadoes swept through six US states, devastating homes, communities and livelihoods in what FEMA called an "unprecedented" disaster in severity and magnitude. In Kentucky alone, the death toll has climbed to more than 70 and that number is expected to grow. In the words of Governor Andy Beshear, as reported by Axios, "with this amount of damage and rubble, it may be a week or even more before we have a final count on the number of lost lives."

If global temperatures keep rising, the severity of weather events like this one will, too. FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell told CNN that "this is going to be our new normal."

CNN: Kentucky governor describes devastation - Towns are gone, December 12, 2021.

Why This Matters

When it comes to climate, this year has already set the tone for what constitutes the "new normal." A few examples include record-setting wildfires, droughts, and heatwaves in the Western US, and floods in China and Western Europe. Climate change's impact on weather patterns, including another year of La Niña, added to the severity of the storms that hammered the Midwest and Great Lakes region last weekend. According to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this year's disasters have been the most expensive in history.

FEMA's Criswell stated, "the effects that we're seeing from climate change are the crisis of our generation." Later adding that FEMA plans "to work with communities to help reduce the impacts that we're seeing from these severe weather events and help to develop systemwide projects that can help protect communities."

Rebuilding The Community

The greatest challenge that remains is recovery. President Biden has declared a major disaster in Kentucky, authorizing federal funding for temporary housing, home repairs, and additional assistance for those affected.

The Economist: See what three degrees of global warming looks like, October 30, 2021.