MAINE, USA — We hear a lot about climate change. It's often in the news, politics and discussion. But what does it really mean for Maine?
All this week, we'll show you what's actually been observed and what you need to know about the science; one topic each day.
Maine's Climate: Heavy precipitation trends
Heavier precipitation is one of the most obvious results of a warming climate. Nationally, big storms like Hurricane Harvey stand out. But locally -- there's a clear trend too.
As air warms, more water is available to condense into clouds and precipitation, coming down in heavier downpours. That's why we usually see our heaviest rainfall rates in summer thunderstorms.
But in a warmer climate, storms like nor'easters are producing heavier precipitation too -- both rain, and snow.
In Maine, we're seeing an increase in heavy rainfall events. On average, there are 3 to 4 more days a year now that produce over an inch of rain. Clearly, heavier rain means a higher risk for flooding -- both flash flooding in poor drainage areas, and larger river and stream flooding.
Everyone remembers the October 2017 wind storm for wind -- but it also produced devastating flooding in the western mountains -- impressive for such a quick-hitting storm.
This doesn't mean every year will be wet -- or every storm we'll see flooding. But it does mean in a warmer atmosphere, there's more moisture available, and when it rains, it's more likely to pour.