After getting deluged with unusually extreme rains for two straight days, two critical dams in Michigan failed this week. The failures led to unprecedented flooding in Midland County, and the evacuation of towns submerged in floodwaters.
“This is unlike anything we’ve seen in Midland County,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement.
Heavier rains are a well-understood consequence of a relentlessly warming planet. This is especially the case in the Midwest. There, the most extreme rain events increased precipitation by a whopping 37 percent between 1958 and 2012. (A warmer atmosphere can hold more water, leading to boosted odds of more extreme rains.)
In the video posted on YouTube by the news publication MLive, the Edenville Dam failed on Tuesday, leading to a landslide and then water gushing out of the dam. Water can be seen topping the dam, too, before the big failure.
In addition to extreme rains, the Edenville Dam, built almost a century ago, is a clear sign of the nation’s aging, inadequate infrastructure. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission knew for over two decades that the old dam could collapse if hit with big rains, according to The Detroit News.
In 2020 — which will likely be one of the warmest few years on record — that time has come.