Dec 12, 2021 - Energy & Environment

FEMA chief: Severe weather "going to be our new normal"

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said Sunday that extreme weather events — like the tornadoes that touched down in Midwest and Southern states Friday — are "going to be our new normal, and the effects that we're seeing from climate change are the crisis of our generation."

What she's saying: It is "incredibly unusual" to see such powerful tornadoes this late in the year, Criswell told Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union."

  • "We do see tornadoes in December, that part is not unusual. But at this magnitude, I don't think we've seen one this late in the year," Criswell said. "But it's also historic, even the severity and the amount of time these tornadoes spent on the ground is unprecedented."
"We're taking a lot of efforts at FEMA to work with communities to reduce impacts we're seeing from the severe weather events and help to develop system-wide projects that can help protect communities. ... We're also prepared to respond to any community that gets impacted by one of these severe events."
— FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell

Catch up fast: More than two dozen tornadoes tore through six Midwest and Southern states on Friday, leaving widespread destruction in their wake. A weather station on the ground near Mayfield, Kentucky, recorded a wind gust of 107 mph at the time the tornado struck.

  • The death toll in Kentucky may exceed 100, Gov. Andy Beshear said, adding that it is "the worst, most devastating, most deadly tornado event" in the state's history.

Go deeper: Fatalities and property destruction states slammed by tornadoes

Go deeper