Why is Louisiana seeing more 'showers on steroids,' intense downpours these days?

If it seems like rainfalls in south Louisiana are becoming more intense and flash flooding more frequent, it’s not your imagination.

A new research study led by a team from LSU closely examined rainfall amounts in Louisiana over a period of decades and found that today’s showers, on average, are more intense and deposit their rain loads more quickly than they did in the early 60s.

The result is flash flooding that surprises and sometimes strands motorists and leaves streets and yards underwater before the rains soon move on.

Barry Keim, state climatologist and professor at LSU, notes that these aren’t your typical afternoon storms that cap off hot summer days with a brief, cooling dose of precipitation. Rather, he said, these are “showers on steroids.”

And he and other researchers say these kinds of summer rains may be the new normal for south Louisiana.

Keim says a normal summer thunder shower starts with the morning sun which heats up the air above the ground. That heated air rises into the atmosphere through the day, bringing moisture with it. The water vapor condenses into cumulus clouds until enough droplets of water fill the clouds and then fall to the ground as rain.

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