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Is there really an increase in severe weather?

It’s a question that is possibly impossible to answer – are we getting more severe weather or simply more recorded events and news coverage?

As major flooding hits China the USA has also seen its fair share of flooding through 2010.  There have been deadly heat waves in Europe and and killer tornadoes across America too.

But isn’t this all just part of the norm?

It seems as weather technology improves and further radars are placed on earth more severe weather events are being detected.  Coupled with more news organisations and an increase in website where weather events can be logged (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc) it would make sense that smaller weather events are making more weather headlines.

Take, for instance, the videos we display here at  Many are of small tornadoes or hailstorms that wouldn’t have always made the news – and certainly wouldn’t have made the news here in New Zealand from America. 

But thanks to YouTube anyone can have a weather video posted online and the biggest news organisations pick them up.

So are we seeing more severe weather?  I don’t think we are – just more coverage of the weather we’ve always had. 

What are your thoughts?   Post a comment below

– Philip Duncan, head weather analyst


Homepage image / NZ Govt


JohnGaul on 26/07/2010 9:10am

I’m glad that someone has brought up this topic.
No. I don’t think the weather is more severe. I think less severe and has become boring in a lot of cases, I’m sad to say, especially me being a weather enthusiast.
I think that global warming is contributing to less interesting weather events happening, globally and here in New Zealand.


Glyn on 26/07/2010 7:48am

I agree with you, Phillip. We hear so much so soon after any disaster now. I remember my Mum telling me after the Napier earthquake in 1931, that in Auckland it was reported that there was an earthquake in Apia. It wasn’t until the next day they heard that it was actually Napier.

Melissa on 26/07/2010 3:38am

I agree that there isn’t more severe weather, but with modern technology we are more aware of it.
And is there not more pressure on the weather forcasters to be more accurate, as it seems to me that people are quick to blame them if the weather is worse than first forecast!
Even though as we all know what happens in one town can be totally different in the next!
Are weather forcasters needing to be more cautious and maybe over- do warnings, than not put out enough and endure the media/public backlash?
I would much rather have a forecast for severe weather maybe fizzle out or miss us than not be prepared to batten down the hatches!

Dave on 26/07/2010 3:06am

Hi Phil
Yep I agree totally, it is just the technology which has moved. I think the weather is better now than it was years ago actually. I can remember numerous nights of storms without power when I grew up.

On a world wide scale we get to see heaps more of it than ever but that is not because it happens more, we just didn’t hear about it before.

Andrew on 26/07/2010 1:05am

True. Of course that won’t stop media summing up the year as ‘Year of Wild Weather’ as they always do.

sw on 26/07/2010 12:29am

No increase,we now live in a society where we must know/have any event immediately with the latest technology that enables us to “watch” almost as “entertainment”.
All flooding,heatwaves etc happened all the time throughout the years and will continue.

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