LEESBURG, Va. (WUSA) -- Extreme precipitation weather, like downpours and big snowstorms, like "snowmageddon" from 2010, are happening more often, according to a report by Environment Virginia.
"In the past 60 or so years, we're 33 percent more likely to see severe precipitation. What that means is a storm that used to happen every 12 months on average is happening once every nine months on average," said Laura Kate Anderson, a field organizer of Environment Virginia. Anderson adds that such extreme weather events are also getting bigger.
"The scientific consensus is that global warming is contributing to this increase in precipitation," said Anderson.
Thomas Peterson, head scientist with the National Climatic Data Center says for at least the Northern hemisphere, you can link global warming to the increased frequency of extreme precipitation. In fact, a federally-funded study concluded the global temperature has increased over the past 50 years and that's due primarily to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases.
"Not all extreme weather events are going to become frequent," said Thomas Peterson, head scientist of the National Climatic Data Center. "For example, cold waves are going to become less frequent. We're seeing that already."
Environment Virginia hopes its study will encourage the Obama Administration to pass legislation that has stricter fuel efficiency standards for cars, and reduces carbon pollution for new power plants.
The Virginia report only goes back 60 years and that's what other experts say we have to be careful about. In fact, those who challenge global warming, including Marc Morano who is a former staff member of the U.S. Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, argue that other studies have found both temperature and precipitation were higher 1,000 years ago during the medieval warm period.
"Environment Virginia's attempt to link man-made global warming to rainfall events in Virginia or any specific region is the stuff of pure politics -- not science," said Morano. "The continental U.S. is less than two percent of the Earth's surface, so any attempt to draw precipitation trends from such a small area using only cherry picked timelines, is grossly misleading. Current data shows that global precipitation has undergone a slight decrease over the past 30 years. Global warming activists are desperately seeking to tie any and every weather event to global warming. Rest assured, your SUVs do not cause heavy rain."