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Can Global Warming Really Be Blamed for Ellicott City Flood?

The devastating flooding in Maryland over Memorial Day Weekend not only sent a wall of water through downtown Ellicott City, Maryland, but reignited a debate over global warming and floods.

Is global warming making floods, like in Ellicott City and surrounding towns worse, or do other factors play a dominant role? Meteorologists seemed to come down on both sides of the matter.

NBC Today Show weatherman Al Roker said that while Ellicott City’s unique geography made it particularly flood-prone, warming was leading to more heavy rainfall events. A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, leading to bigger storms, he said.

“And that just continues to grow as we start to continue to see climate change and more warm air making its way with moisture and causing bigger storms,” Roker said on air Tuesday. “That’s what’s going on around the country.”

On the other hand, AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Lada said it was “such a localized, small-scale event that the big climate debate wouldn’t really have an impact.”