The devastating tornado cluster that flattened hundreds of miles across four midwestern states “is going to be our new normal” in the era of climate change, a US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) rep has claimed.
The weekend’s deadly storm cluster represents the future under climate change, FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, declaring “the effects that we’re seeing from climate change” to be the “crisis of our generation.”
Criswell called the storm, which President Joe Biden has declared a federal disaster emergency, “incredibly unusual,” while acknowledging that “we do see tornadoes in December – that part is not unusual.” Still, she said, the magnitude and seriousness of the damage were “historic.”
The severity and the amount of time these tornadoes spent on the ground is unprecedented.
Nearly 100 people have been declared dead as a result of the multi-tornado weather event, which flattened the entire town of Mayfield, Kentucky as it tore through over 227 miles (365km) in the western part of the state and neighboring Arkansas, potentially breaking a near-100-year record. Wind speeds exceeded 250 mph (402 km/h), according to ground-level measurements.
As search-and-rescue operations continued on Saturday, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear warned that the casualty count could climb to more than 100. FEMA has sent a team to Kentucky to assist with those efforts.
While FEMA and the Biden administration have blamed climate change for the magnitude of the devastation, others have pushed back against that explanation, noting that the previous record-holding storm took place almost a century ago.