Globally globally, loss-related floods have more than tripled since 1980, and
windstorm natural catastrophes more than doubled, with particularly heavy losses
from Atlantic hurricanes. This rise cannot be explained without global warming.So let's think about Vermont for a minute. Even before Irene it was clear thatthings were very different here. Choose your gauge: ice out dates, lilac bloom, startof sugaring season. Most obvious was the more than 85% increase in severe
rainstorms, the gullywashers that do farmers no good and cause a world of trouble
for road crews. I've always found the easiest public officials to talk about global
warming with work in municipal DPWs-they've spent the last decade trading out
small culverts for bigger ones, because the old book no longer works. As oneAustralian mayor said on Monday, after the second great flood of his tenure, "these
storms are supposed to be one in a hundred year events, not one in two year
events." For us, though, Irene was a defining moment. It saw the greatest rainfall inthe state's history, 11.23 inches recorded in Mendon. If anyplace should be able to
cope, you would have thought it would be Vermont-the remarkable recovery offorest cover in our state should have meant less flooding than from the great storms
of the 20s and 30s when most of those slopes were bare. But this was just too much
water-it wasn't just off the charts, it was off the wall the charts were tacked to.
From now on we need to know that Irene is what nature is capable of producing for
us. You know better than anyone else in the state the true cost-in lives and in
hopes, yes, but also in deferred plans, busted budgets, foregone opportunities. Godforbid the next one comes before we finish paying off this one.