CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Nearly 100 records for heat, rain and snow were set in counties across West Virginia last year, and the state ranked among the top 10 states for percentage of weather stations reporting such "extreme weather" events, according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The NRDC report, released Tuesday, comes after one government report that found last year set an all-time record for average U.S. temperature and another government scientific report that warned climate change is already happening.
"Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present," said the 1,146-page draft National Climate Assessment, a scientific report issued Friday.
"Americans are noticing changes all around them," the report said. "Summers are longer and hotter, and periods of extreme heat last longer than any living American has experienced.
"Winters are generally shorter and warmer," it said. "Rain comes in heavier downpours, though in many regions there are longer dry spells in between."
Earlier last week, the National Climatic Data Center had reported that the average annual U.S. temperature was up to 55.32 degrees Fahrenheit, a full degree warmer than the old record set in 1998.
Scientists say the U.S. heat and the extreme weather events are in part global warming in action, and that major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions - such as carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants - are needed to avert the most damaging impacts.