MONTPELIER, Vt. – Nearly a year after the remnants of Hurricane Irene unleashed devastating floods in much of Vermont, a new report by an environmental group says extreme downpours and snowfalls are the new normal — up 85 percent in New England since 1948.
Nationally, Environment America's report found that storms with extreme precipitation increased in frequency by 30 percent across the contiguous United States from 1948 to 2011. It said the largest annual storms produced 10 percent more precipitation, on average.
It said New England was the region where the trend was most pronounced. Intense storms more than doubled in New Hampshire during the period studied while increasing 84 percent in Vermont.
The report, which analyzed 80 million daily precipitation records from the contiguous U.S., attributed the increase in severity of the downpours in part to global warming.
The report did not come as a surprise either to the head of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, (VPIRG) which released it in the state Tuesday, or to Andy Nash, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service station in South Burlington.