An intense storm that began on Monday, 10 July, in the Northeastern part of the US has brought record amounts of rain of 5.28 inches. This amount of rainfall is higher than Hurricane Irene in August 2011, which dropped 5.27 inches of rain, killing more than 40 people in many Eastern states.
The downpour has inundated Vermont’s capital Montpelier, turning their streets into rivers, and forced evacuations of residents with search and rescue teams conducting more than 100 rescues in the states. Governor Phil Scott called the flood and the devastation “historic and catastrophic” (Salahieh & Mascarenhas, 2023).
President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Vermont as floodwaters rise from knee to waist deep, posing threats to residents’ lives.
The BBC reports that Vermont’s capital, Montpelier, was shut down until at least midday on Tuesday as the river that runs through the city recedes (Halpert & Drennon, 2023).
The three dams in the state that were nearing capacity remain a significant cause for concern, but that eased away when officials announced on Tuesday that they were no longer expected to overflow.
Although the worst storm has passed, flood watches remained in Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Connecticut.
The article also reports a woman in her 30s who died while trying to flee her home with her dog on Sunday. “She crossed with a pet and lost her footing and unfortunately was washed away down into a ravine,” an official for Orange County, New York, told NBC News.
CNN reports that the seven-day total amounts of rainfall across much of the Northeast were already at 300% to 500% of normal, the Weather Prediction Center said on Monday, 10 July (Salahieh & Mascarenhas, 2023).
Between 2-4 inches of rain fell across the Northeast from eastern Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, Vermont and New Hampshire. In New York, more than 8 inches of rain dropped within 24 hours.
A state of emergency was also declared in Long Lake, a northern town in New York, due to severe floods that destroyed its roads and bridges. It disrupted its power supply, forcing some residents to evacuate.
A warming atmosphere increases the risk of extreme rainfall and hence flooding. The earth has already warmed by around 1.1°C since the 1880s. According to NASA, most of the warming has occurred since 1975, at a rate of roughly 0.15 to 0.20°C per decade.
More recently, on 4 July, scientists recorded a new global average temperature of 17.18°C. They expect record-breaking temperatures to come more frequently.
Temperatures will keep rising unless governments, businesses, and industries make dramatic and steep cuts to emissions.
We are witnessing a growing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events worldwide, a grim reality that serves as a reminder of the need for more urgent climate action regarding climate adaptation and mitigation.
Halpert, M. & Drenon, B. (2023, 12 July). US storms: Biden declares state of emergency over dangerous Vermont floods. BBC. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-66154757
Salahieh, N. & Mascarenhas, L. (2023, July 11). Catastrophic flooding swamped Vermont’s capital as intense storms forced evacuations, rescues and closures in the Northeast. CNN. Retrieved from https://edition.cnn.com/2023/07/11/us/northeast-storms-flooding-excessive-rainfall-tuesday/index.html
Desk, W. (2023, 12 July). Heavy rains trigger rescue operations in flood-hit Vermont. Geo News. Retrieved from https://www.geo.tv/latest/498684-heavy-rains-trigger-rescue-operations-in-flood-hit-vermont