Kansas City seeing more intense rains due to climate change, new rainfall study shows

When it rains, it pours is becoming a more accurate statement about Kansas City’s weather, a new analysis of hourly rainfall totals has found.

The warmer air from climate change is supercharging the atmosphere leading to heavier rainfall extremes across the United States, including the Kansas City area, according to the study by Climate Central, an independent climate change research organization.

The study analyzed 150 U.S. locations and found that 90% of them were experiencing more average rainfall per hour than in 1970. The average change in rainfall intensity was 13%, according to Climate Central.

For the Kansas City area, the change in hourly rainfall intensity was 18%. That compares to a change in rainfall intensity of 20% for St. Louis, 15% for Topeka and 12% for Springfield.

At 38%, the Wichita area ranked third in the top 10 locations with the greatest increase in hourly rainfall intensity.

The release of the report comes as Kansas City enters its wettest part of the year. The months of May and June typically are the rainiest in the metro, with more than five inches of rain falling each month, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Regional Climate Centers.

Heavy rains become more likely as the climate warms, Climate Central said. For every degree of warming, the air can hold an extra 4% of moisture which increases the chances of heavier downpours.

That also puts areas at risk for flash flooding, which is among the most hazardous weather-related events because people have little time to get out of harm’s way. Floods can also bring health risks as people are exposed to toxic contaminants, water-borne illnesses and even drowning, according to Climate Central.

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