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Extreme Weather and Climate Change in the American Mind in November 2013

Report Summary


  • Since Fall 2012, more Northeasterners say they experienced several types of extreme events – extreme high winds (61%, up 11 points), a hurricane (41%, up 15 percentage points), extreme snowstorm (39%, up 16 points), or extreme cold temperatures (33%, up 10 points). Fewer Northeasterners report having experienced an extreme rainstorm (39%, down 13 points), extreme heat wave (37%, down 15 points), or drought (7%, down 16 points).
  • More Midwesterners reported experiencing extreme rainstorms (38%, up 7 points), extreme cold temperatures (31%, up 8 points), and extreme snowstorms (20%, up 6 points) in the past year. Importantly, far fewer reported experiencing a drought (35%, down 46 points) or extreme heat wave (29%, down 54 points) in the past year.
  • More Southerners report experiencing extreme cold temperatures (21%, up 11 points), but fewer experienced extreme high winds (31%, down 9 points), an extreme heat wave (31%, down 30 points), extreme rainstorm (31%, down 13 points), drought (21%, down 22 points), or tornado (12%, down 12 points).
  • More Westerners report experiencing a wildfire (36%, up 13 points), but fewer experienced drought (33%, down 8 points) or an extreme heat wave (31%, down 18 points).
  • When asked which of their community resources are at risk from extreme weather over the next 10 years, about half of Americans say agriculture (55%) and the electricity system (51%) are at “high” or “moderate” risk.
  • Majorities of Americans say their state and local governments should prioritize the protection of public water supplies (78%), transportation/roads/bridges (73%), people’s health (72%), the electricity system (71%), agriculture (70%), public sewer systems (69%), and forests/prevention of wildfires (59%) from extreme weather over the next 10 years.
  • Over half of Americans (56%) say “global warming is affecting weather in the United States.”