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90% of U.S. cities seeing more intense rainfall

Mack Lake County Park in Renville County was closed Friday due to flooding.
Mack Lake County Park in Renville County was closed Friday due to flooding.(AP)
Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 10:00 AM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Has rainfall become more intense over the past 50 years? All indications are yes, especially in our urban areas.

According to Climate Central, rainfall has intensified in 90% of cities since 1970. And that’s not talking about rain totals, but rather the frequency of heavy downpours. These findings are based on a review of more than 50 years of hourly weather records from rain gauges operated by the National Weather Service. The data shows that heavier amounts of rain have been falling in shorter timespans, increasing the likelihood of flooding.

This could be attributed to warmer temperatures in our urban areas over the past few decades. A phenomenon called “Urban Heat Island” effect could be partially to blame as the asphalt and development radiate heat and add to the increase in temperatures.

On a larger scale, climate research has found that for every 1°F of warming, Earth’s atmosphere can hold 4% more water vapor. More water vapor in the air can increase the likelihood of extreme rainfall events when they occur. Since the late 19th century, our planet has warmed by nearly 2°F.

Regardless, we all need to be prepared for flash flooding. It is more likely in urban areas with runoff, compared to rural spots where green space can take in the water.

Here are some Flash Flood Safety tips… Turn around, don’t drown. Never drive into water that you don’t know the depth. Do not drive around barriers during flooding, and never walk into moving water. It’s easy to get swept up in flood waters.