‘The New Normal’: US Blames This Winter’s Severe Tornado’s on Climate Change

More than 100 Americans were feared dead this weekend — including six workers at an Amazon warehouse in Illinois — after severe storms and tornados tore through the central U.S. And "thousands upon thousands" of buildings were flattened, reports the Times. The head of America's Federal Emergency Management Agency (or FEMA) "says the agency has seen a rise in intense storms and severe weather patterns that it anticipates to continue as a result of climate change," reports Insider. Speaking on morning news shows on Sunday, Deanne Criswell shared the agency's plans to prepare for increasing rates of deadly storms as the country faces the "crisis of our generation." "This is going to be our new normal," Criswell said on CNN's "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper... Criswell's remarks come after severe storms and tornadoes ripped through six states, killing an estimated 80 people in Kentucky in what the state's governor, Andy Beshear, said on Saturday "is likely to be the most severe tornado outbreak in our state's history." They also follow a year marked by historic storms that caused unprecedented damage across the country, including winter storms that left large swaths of Texas without power and killed an estimated 210 people, rampant forest fires on the West Coast that have produced harmful smoke traveling thousands of miles across the nation, and severe hurricanes that ravaged much of the East Coast this spring.... "There's going to be a lot to learn from this event and the events that we saw through the summer," she told George Stephanopoulos [on his Sunday morning interview show]. "We're seeing more intense storms, severe weather, whether it's hurricanes, tornadoes, wild fires. And one of the focuses my agency is going to have is, how can we start to reduce the impacts of these events as they continue to grow?" The FEMA official underscored just how unusual the weather was this weekend, according to the Huffington Post: "We do see tornadoes in December, that part is not unusual. But at this magnitude, I don't think we have ever seen one this late in the year," she said. "But it's also historic. Even the severity and the amount of time this tornado or these tornadoes spent on the ground is unprecedented." Tornadoes usually last only a few minutes when thunderstorm updrafts lose energy. But once Friday night's storms formed, experts said unprecedented strong wind shear appeared to have prevented the twisters from dissipating â resulting in a disaster that lasted hours and traveled more than 200 miles at over 50 miles per hour. In fact, the Times reports that the state of Kentucky witnessed the longest distance ever covered by a single tornado in U.S. history.

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