Geography and why there is so much bad weather in the United States

Storms and natural disasters seem to occur regularly in the United States. Why?

Photo by Pixabay on

It starts with “where we are on the globe,” North Carolina state climatologist Kathie Dello said. “It’s truly a little bit … unlucky.”

China may have more people, and a large land area like the United States, but “they don’t have the same kind of clash of air masses as much as you do in the U.S. that is producing a lot of the severe weather,” said Susan Cutter, director of the Hazards Vulnerability and Resilience Institute at the University of South Carolina…

With colder air up in the Arctic and warmer air in the tropics, the area between them — the mid-latitudes, where the United States is — gets the most interesting weather because of how the air acts in clashing temperatures, and that north-south temperature gradient drives the jet stream, said Northern Illinois meteorology professor Walker Ashley.

Then add mountain ranges that go north-south, jutting into the winds flowing from west to east, and underneath it all the toasty Gulf of Mexico.

The geography of the Untied States is often described as an advantage. Lots of land. Many natural resources. A range of temperatures and climates. Across the oceans from major global conflicts.

In this case, the unique geography leads to issues. The expanse and variation in land puts air masses in conflict.

As the article suggests, have American communities adapted to this? If bad weather and disasters are somewhat predictable, do we have structures and planning that mitigates some of this impact? Just as one example, suburban sprawl with its balloon-frame houses and reliance on driving could be prone to particular ill effects.

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