Utah State University says they can predict extreme weather with new models

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 UTAH) - The latest U.S. climate report confirms what many scientists have alluded to for years. Our nation and world are getting warmer.

For us in Utah, it will get hotter. Water will be scarce, droughts and wildfires are inevitable and even an uptick in insect outbreaks may happen.

The latest study done by Utah State University says Utah has a bull’s eye for warming in the western United States.

The United States has been split in its weather patterns. The eastern part of the country has been wet. The western part has been dry. Scientists at USU call it a dipole.

The professors were able to develop a model that can predict when and where extreme weather will happen based on that dipole.

“When they add the global warming due to the release of green house gases, it mimicked the drought, the periodic drought in California and it also showed that it would get stronger,” said Utah State University’s Atmospheric Scientist Dr. Lawrence Hipps.

If you think of Utah, think of it as a divided weather state.

“There is sort of a drier section of the United States that goes up onto southern Utah and then there's this sort of wet section that goes into northern Utah,” said Dr. Hipps.

It is not clear if the big drought will happen this year. That all depends on the weather phenomenon El Niño and what happens before it.

“Utah has gotten warmer, less snow in the mountains, more rain in the mountains and particularly it has gotten warmer in the summer and that is completely consistent with what the climate model suggest should happen,” says Dr. Hipps.

The model also shows a higher demand on water.

“The precipitation might be the same or it might even go up but your water resources won't. It could go down because the water resources are based on snow,” added Dr. Hipps.

Another indicator of drought can be as close as the tree in your front yard. Scientists have been looking at tree rings to show evidence of longer droughts in the past to predict droughts in the future.

“The droughts will be more severe when they happen because when they happen the summers are going to be hotter which means there is going to be more of a demand on water resources.”

That could be bad news for firefighters, who will depend on water as they fight wildfires that happen here in the state.

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