Tropical Storm Lee's lasting impact: Experts say to expect more flooding as temperatures rise and cities and suburbs expand

Penn State professors Michael Mann and Ray Najjar talk about their weather research on climate change Thursday, August 23, 2012. Article written by: JOHN C. WHITEHEAD/The Patriot-News

It’s not your imagination. The storms that blot out the afternoon sun, bounce globs of water off the pavement, overrun the gutters, then vanish in a steamy mist — those storms are worse than they used to be.

Over the last 50 years in Pennsylvania, significant rain events — when more than an inch of rain falls within 24 hours — are up by 50 percent.

During the same time, our largest annual storms produce 10 percent more precipitation on average. But our average rainfall totals have remained about the same.

We’re getting more of our rain all at once, in big bursts. If the conditions are right, those big bursts cause flash flooding.

That’s why the Department of Energy is paying for a Penn State University team of hydrologists and climate scientists, led by Professor Michael Mann, to assess the impact of climate change on future flooding in the Susquehanna River Basin.

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