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Record rain consequence of a changing climate

Ellicott City shop owner's reaction to seeing her damaged store. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun video)

Living a few miles away from downtown Ellicott City, I now think of Main Street with each downpour — and we have had more than usual this summer (at least 10 intense ones). None of those downpours since June were the “six inches of rain in 90 minutes” that Portalli’s owner Evan Brown has observed as the “number when things start to crumble” but enough rain intensity to cause minor floods in many neighborhoods (“Heavy rain gave Ellicott City another flood scare this week. Will that tilt the equation for businesses?” July 27).

As a Master Watershed Steward, I have modified my yard and helped others to modify their yards to slow down the runoff from rainstorms and let it soak into the earth, or keep it in rain barrels to use later so that we can be part of natural water cycle and avoid flooding our neighbors downhill from us. However, as Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman noted, “damaging storms now strike more frequently” and there is only so much rain intensity that can be soaked into the earth.

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What do we do about the more frequent storm intensities? We know the basic high school science of warmer air temperatures holding more water vapor and warmer ocean temperatures providing more energy for more intense storms. We know the reason our atmosphere and ocean temperatures have increased — the 43 percent increase in greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels. It’s time to work on addressing the root of our increased storm frequency and intensity.

Sabrina S. Fu, Ellicott City

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