Extreme rain doubled in US Midwest - climate study
* Floods linked to climate change
* Steepest increase in severe rains in Wisconsin
* No longer purely a "natural disaster" - study author
By Deborah Zabarenko
WASHINGTON, May 16 (Reuters) - The number of extreme rainstorms - deluges that dump 3 inches or more in a day - doubled in the U.S. Midwest over the last half-century, causing billions of dollars in flood damage in a trend climate advocates link to a rise in greenhouse gas emissions.
Across the Midwest the biggest storms increased by 103 percent from 1961 through 2011, a study released by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and the Natural Resources Defense Council reported on Wednesday.
States in the upper Midwest fared worse than those in the south part of the region, the study found, with the number of severe rainstorms rising by 203 percent in Wisconsin, 180 percent in Michigan, 160 percent in Indiana and 104 percent in Minnesota.
Illinois saw an 83 percent increase in extreme storms, Missouri had 81 percent, Ohio 40 percent and Iowa 32 percent, according to the study.
"The increase in extreme storms, because of the linkage to flooding, probably represents the Midwest's greatest vulnerability to climate change," said study author Stephen Saunders, president of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization. Continued...