ARIZONAThe biggest dust storm in living memory rolls into Phoenix on July 5, 2011, reducing visibility to zero. Desert thunderstorms kicked up the mile-high wall of dust and sand.
SWITZERLANDFrozen spray from Lake Geneva entombs cars, trees, and a promenade during a severe cold spell in February 2012. An unusual dip in the polar jet stream, which looped as far south as Africa, brought Arctic air and deep snows to Europe, killing several hundred people.
"There’s been a change in the weather. Extreme events like the Nashville flood—described by officials as a once-in-a-millennium occurrence—are happening more frequently than they used to. A month before Nashville, torrential downpours dumped 11 inches of rain on Rio de Janeiro in 24 hours, triggering mud slides that buried hundreds. About three months after Nashville, record rains in Pakistan caused flooding that affected more than 20 million people. In late 2011 floods in Thailand submerged hundreds of factories near Bangkok, creating a worldwide shortage of computer hard drives.
And it’s not just heavy rains that are making headlines. During the past decade we’ve also seen severe droughts in places like Texas, Australia, and Russia, as well as in East Africa, where tens of thousands have taken refuge in camps. Deadly heat waves have hit Europe, and record numbers of tornadoes have ripped across the United States. Losses from such events helped push the cost of weather disasters in 2011 to an estimated $150 billion worldwide, a roughly 25 percent jump from the previous year. In the U.S. last year a record 14 events caused a billion dollars or more of damage each, far exceeding the previous record of nine such disasters in 2008.
What’s going on? Are these extreme events signals of a dangerous, human-made shift in Earth’s climate? Or are we just going through a natural stretch of bad luck?
The short answer is: probably both. The primary forces driving recent disasters have been natural climate cycles, especially El Niño and La Niña. Scientists have learned..."
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SEE FULL PHOTO GALLERY OF WILD WEATHER HERE...http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/09/extreme-weather/extreme-weather-photography#/01-deluge-falls-during-thunderstorm-montana-670.jpg