Northwest Can Expect Heavier Rainstorms in the Future

By CIRCulator Editorial Staff

Reprinted from: The Climate CIRCulator

HOW INTENSE will extreme weather events become in a world with elevated greenhouse gas concentrations? The Northwest can expect heavier rainstorms, along with hotter summers and warmer winters, according to several Northwest scientists.

The largest and most rare precipitation events in the Northwest could increase at rates faster than mean precipitation intensity suggests, reported David Rupp of Oregon State University and Eric Salathé and Cliff Mass of the University of Washington in their recent talks at the Fifth Annual Pacific Northwest Climate Conference.

Also, the hottest days of summer and the coldest days of winter are getting warmer faster than the average temperature. However, the effects of local topography on atmospheric circulation could mitigate those effects, said Ph.D. student Mathew Brewer of UW.

High-resolution regional climate models suggest mitigating factors from the mountain ranges in the Pacific Northwest. As for wind, the Pacific Northwest could remain about the same as now, according to Mass. Hurricanes are not expected to strike the Washington and Oregon coasts, he said, because even in a warmer planet the northeast Pacific Ocean will still be too cold to sustain hurricanes.

The Fifth Annual Pacific Northwest Climate Conference drew researchers and practitioners to Seattle in September.

A version of this story originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of The Climate CIRCulator.