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A new normal of extreme weather

A new normal of extreme weather

From the tragic tornados in Moore, Oklahoma, to Hurricane Sandy, the U.S. has been struck by an unusually intense round of severe weather lately.

Weather officials worry that these catastrophic events may be the onset of a "new normal" - in part due to the contribution of global warming.

Global warming is "making it more likely that the storms are more intense and produce heavier precipitation," new National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini recently told USA TODAY.

"We have observed more snowstorms and heavy rain events that have been extreme," he told the newspaper, because a warming atmosphere can "hold more water vapor that can increase the intensity of storms."

Uccellini hypothesized that Sandy's damage along the Northeastern seaboard was augmented by sea level rise from global warming, though he warned that he doesn't think there are enough cases of extreme weather to certify a correlation.

- Chris Strub