Hurricane Irene left millions on the East Coast without power and caused widespread flooding from New Jersey to New England. At least 46 people were killed, and when the damage was totaled, Irene was declared one of the costliest disasters in U.S. history -- the tenth billion-dollar-plus weather catastrophe this year.
What's going on here? As the earth warms, what we call extreme weather is becoming "normal," thanks to changing weather patterns, higher sea levels, and the atmosphere's ability to hold more water vapor. The result: more weather extremes costing more money and causing more misery. Irene wasn't caused by climate change, but it is the latest disaster whose potential for destruction was made worse because of global warming.