Increased number of heavy rain events in Missouri since the 1950s

A changing climate leads to more heavy rain events
Posted at 10:40 AM, Aug 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-24 12:42:42-04

It's the wettest August on record in Kansas City after flooding earlier in the week.

Data shows 9.65" of rain has fallen so far this month and we still have a week left! The previous record was 9.58" set in 1982. 

A good chunk of this month's rain was due to the historic flooding on August 21 and 22. The total at KCI during this period was 6.14 inches. Some areas reported over 9 inches of rain which resulted in record crest heights at Indian Creek along with the highest water height for the Blue River since 2004.

It was a scene all too familiar as this comes after major flooding only less than a month ago.

Heavy precipitation events seem to be more common in several states since the 1950s. Our friends at Climate Centralcalculated the percent change in the top one percent of heavy rain events between 1950-1959 and 2007-2016. They found that Wyoming, Iowa and Missouri have seen the biggest increase in heavy precipitation events. 

Overall, the Midwest and Northeast have seen the biggest change as a whole, while other states in the West and Southwest were less pronounced. This is no surprise. Climate scientists expect variability and different trends across different regions.

Heavier precipitation events, both rain and snow, is a signature of climate change. For every degree Fahrenheit of temperature increase, the atmosphere can effectively hold four percent more water vapor from the increased amount of evaporation from oceans, lakes, rivers and soils. The extra water vapor in the atmosphere aids to the additional rainfall, creating an environment ideal for heavy precipitation events.

THIS WEEK IN THE FORECAST: More rain is possible in the rain gauge this weekend as August comes to an end. Although we're not expecting a heavy rain event here, major flooding will occur in other parts of the county. The Texas Golf Coast could experience upwards of 20 inches of rain from Harvey as the tropical system strengthens in the Gulf of Mexico into a Category 1 hurricane.