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A look at weather extremes and the big-picture climate connections.

Mother Nature on Steroids

By Andrew Freedman
(Originally published on Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang)

In a year marked by a relentless assault of extreme weather, several events stand out. Some, like the tornado that leveled Joplin, Missouri on May 22. were extraordinarily devastating and deadly. Others — such as the “Snowtober” storm that buried the Northeast under a crushing load of heavy, wet snow — were downright freakish. In a typical weather year, one might expect a few extreme events like these.

In April, a tornado swept through Joplin, Missouri killing over 150 people. Credit: Shane Keyser/Kansas City Star/MCT/Getty Images. 

But this was no ordinary year. At times it seemed as if Mother Nature was on steroids, slamming Americans with one deadly event after another (a good case can be made that Mother Nature is, in fact, on steroids, thanks to global warming). Consider this: according to NOAA, there were at least 12 events that cost a billion dollars or more, an all-time record (there were 14 such events by other measures). More than 1,000 people died from weather-related causes this year, most of them from tornadoes, and more than 8,000 people were injured, according to the National Weather Service.

Here are the top 5 extreme weather events of 2011 . . . (read more at Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang blog)

And for a look at the Top 10 hardest-hit states — topped by Texas, Alabama and Missouri — read Climate Central’s report from earlier this month.

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