Southeasterners can thank Duke Energy when global warming gives them twice as many thunderstorms

by David Pomerantz

April 12, 2013

Storm studied and filmed by the Center of Severe Weather Reseach (CSWR) with Doppler on Wheels, near Beatrice, Nebraska, USA. The CSWR is a nonprofit research organisation based in Colorado, USA. This trip was one of many the crew has made on its 2004 Radar Observations of Tornadoes and Thunderstorms Experiment that started in late March. The project seeks to better understand tornadoes in order to speed up the alert process.

© Greenpeace / Daniel Beltrá

A new study suggests that global warming could increase thunderstorms in the Southeast

A new study from NASA suggests that global warming could increase the number of violent, damaging thunderstorms that strike the U.S., particularly in the Southeast, which could see a 100 % increase in the number of days with thunderstorms.

NASAs study found that hotter days and more water evaporation from global warming will increase the amount of energy in the atmosphere, causing more storms associated with “high-impact weather such as destructive surface winds, hail and tornadoes.”

The study cited Missouri and coastal North and South Carolina as the most vulnerable areas for the increased storms. Thunderstorms arent the only way that global warming could create dire effects in the Southeastern U.S. Because of global warming, drought is an increasing concern throughout the country, including the Southeast, where some states are already starting to fight over water rights with the knowledge that water will be scarce in a much drier future.

Changes in extreme weather are hard to predict – one of the scariest aspects of global warming is that we dont know exactly how regional weather patterns will change due to global warming. But this study represents some of the most current science about what could happen to the Southeast, so its policymakers in the region ought to consider the risks and plan wisely to prepare for them.

Its also worth considering whose pollution is doing the most to load the dice for this more extreme weather.

North and South Carolinians dont have to look far for the culprits of the global warming pollution that could double the number of thunderstorms that they, their children and grandchildren will face: Their own friendly local utility, Duke Energy, based in Charlotte, is one of the biggest carbon polluters in the country.

Duke is the largest utility in the U.S., and it makes electricity for the Carolinas by burning coal and gas. Its even blocking clean sources of energy like solar and wind from taking root in the Carolinas, and its plan for the next twenty years is more of the same. It says it will have less than 3 % wind and solar energy by 2032.

So, in addition to hiking up their electricity bills and polluting their air and water, now Carolinians can thank Duke for bringing them more thunderstorms too.

David Pomerantz

By David Pomerantz

David Pomerantz is a former Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace USA, based in San Francisco. He helps lead Greenpeace's campaign for an economy powered by 100% renewable energy.

We Need Your Voice. Join Us!

Want to learn more about tax-deductible giving, donating stock and estate planning?

Visit Greenpeace Fund, a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable entity created to increase public awareness and understanding of environmental issues through research, the media and educational programs.