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Maya Express, Southern floods & Climate Change

A little used meteorological expression “Maya Express” describes the atmospheric river pushing up from the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico to the southern and central plains of the United States. Weather specialists and meteorologists are saying that the Maya Express is causing the extreme flooding in those areas.

Meteorologists claim that the Maya Express carries into the atmosphere 15 times the average flow of the Mississippi River. It is responsible for record breaking rains in areas such as northwestern Louisiana, much of Tennessee,  a widespread area from eastern Texas to southern Arkansas and Mississippi. Badly hit were Louisiana and parts of the Gulf Coast, which got 21 inches of rain due to the extreme moisture the Maya Express brought from the tropics.

The more commonly known atmospheric river system, “Pineapple Express,” originates from the Pacific and impacts the west coast of the United States.

Ken Kunkel, a climate scientist with NOAA’S National centers for Environmental Information and atmospheric scientist Cliff Mass, of the University of Washington are looking into the connection between heavy downpours, flooding and global warming. They believe more moisture is in the air because the world is heating up from the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Kunkel and Moss conjecture that global warming affected this rain event to some as yet undetermined degree.

Another recent study by the Committee on Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change say more sophisticated climate models show new patterns of a warming climate and more intense weather events across the globe. Because warming increases the chance of more extreme heat and atmospheric moisture there is a greater likelihood of heavier rainfalls and snows. The more sophisticated the climate models, the more scientists can accurately assess if climate change has, or will, influence a weather event.

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