Ready.gov
Ready.gov

Richmond, Virginia, got 7.61 inches of rain on June 22 — "more than the city typically gets in the entire month of June, topping the previous record on Aug. 12, 1955, during Hurricane Connie," the Washington Post reported this week. It's not a fluke, the paper reported: On the contrary, expert weather scientists say, it's an expected and growing consequence of warmer air temperatures on planet Earth (see: "Immense rains are causing more flash flooding, and experts say it’s getting worse," by Tim Craig and Angela Fritz).

“Things are definitely getting more extreme,” Andreas Prein, an atmospheric scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., told the paper. “You just have to look at the records. All areas of the continental U.S. have seen increases in peak rainfall rates in the past 50 years. . . . And there is a chance that we are underestimating the risk, actually.”

"Theoretically, experts say, an additional 1.8 degrees would amount to about 7 percent more water in the air, resulting in a similar increase in extreme rainfall," the paper reported. "But what Prein and other researchers have found is much higher across a vast portion of the United States."

The pattern is nationwide, but it varies by region, with the most intense effects so far felt in the northeast, the paper reported: "According to the 2014 National Climate Assessment, the eastern half of the continental United States has seen the most dramatic change in extreme rainfall. The amount of rain during the most extreme storms in the Northeast has risen 71 percent since 1958; in the Midwest, heavy rain has ­increased 37 percent; in the Southeast, it’s up 27 percent."