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Report: Climate Change Not To Blame For Colorado’s Destructive Floods

Federal scientists in Boulder have shot down one of the environmental lobby’s biggest issues in the Colorado Senate race– that climate change is responsible for last year’s historic floods that killed nine people and caused billion of dollars of property damage.

The supposition that global warming caused the floods has been a central theme of NextGen Climate, the political organization founded by California billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, which is spending heavily on political advertising on behalf of Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall.

NextGen has pointed out that Udall’s opponent, Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, has expressed skepticism about the extent to which humans contribute to global warming, even as Colorado continues to recover from last September’s floods.

NextGen’s website draws a clear line between Gardner’s beliefs, his support of the oil and gas industry, and the alleged affects of global warming on natural disasters in Colorado.

“The debate is settled,” wrote NextGen state director Georgie Aguirre-Sacasa in a guest commentary in the Denver Post two weeks ago. “Climate change is real and it is already having a devastating impact on our state. And for every year we fail to act, the destructive wildfires, floods and drought that threatens our communities and economy grow more severe.”

He then goes on to specifically site last year’s floods and its estimated $2 billion in property losses as an example of why voters must support candidates who “will fight for our future” by addressing climate change.

Gardner’s “extreme views,” Aguirre-Sacasa wrote, “are placing Colorado heath, safety and property at risk.”

However, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration concluded this week that climate change had nothing to do with the floods.

“[E]xtreme five-day rainfall over northeast Colorado during September 2013 was not made more likely, or more intense, by the effects of climate change,” the report concludes. “From an observational perspective, analogous events have occurred before in the Front Range, perhaps most strikingly similar in September 1938, long before appreciable climate change.”

“For this event, the weather pattern was much more important than climate change,” said Martin Hoerling, a research meteorologist at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, in a press release.

The heavy storm dropped 17 inches of rain in just under a week and was the result of remnants of a tropical storm that stalled over the mountains, the new report concluded.

The flood was no more likely to have happened last year than 100 years ago, the scientists noted. In fact, they found that because of climate change, such heavy rain events are less likely to occur.

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