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6/20/2013 - Climate change to impact rainfall rates

Global warming could make future storms more severe, the NOAA reports.

Weather forecasters indicate that due to the effects of global climate change, the storms that occur throughout the U.S. over the next few years will be more potent.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is operated by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the combination of the heightened production of greenhouse gases and increased moisture in the earth's atmosphere could result in storms being more intense and severe in nature.

Kenneth Kunkel, senior research professor and lead author of the report, indicated that precipitation rates could increase by between 20% and 30% if carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, like chlorofluorocarbons, continue to be produced as much as they are.

"We have high confidence that the most extreme rainfalls will become even more intense, as it is virtually certain that the atmosphere will provide more water to fuel these events," said Kunkel.

However, the report also suggested that while rainfall rates have the potential to become greater in number, the same couldn't be said for horizontal wind production.

Thomas Karl, who heads the North Carolina division of the NOAA and co-authored the paper, added that he's hopeful the findings will be helpful for developers and construction firms, as they attempt to improve infrastructure and building supplies so fewer homeowners insurance claims are filed.

After a year that produced a considerable number of hurricanes, it may be surprising to homeowners that a major hurricane has not made landfall in the U.S. in more than seven years. Noted by the Weather Channel, the last storm to produce winds strong enough to be classified as a Category 3 hurricane was Wilma, which affected southern Florida on October 24, 2005. Not since the 1860s has there been a longer streak.

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