KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Those drought-damaged evergreens outside? Regional climatologists say to expect more in the years ahead.
And the surreal mounds of snow now hiding shrubs that barely survived summer's heat? Get used to that, too.
It seems contradictory, this weird weather whiplash. But just consider the last couple of years in the nation's midsection. Floods unleashed by record inflows into the Missouri River basin in early 2011. Then sudden and prolonged dryness.
Now 20 to 25 inches of snow heaped on Kansas City in the most dramatic, back-to-back smacking delivered by any winter week that many of us can recall.
Yet to experts who study climate change models, it makes sense.
Like everything else about the 21st century, Midwest weather in the coming age could be set on sensory overload.
Crispier summers. Fewer but heavier snowfalls. Thunderstorms more intense, bursting between slightly longer arid periods. Crop yields that bounce from boom to bust and back.
"The cutting edge in climate research is in understanding these extremes," said Bob Oglesby, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. "The (climate) models suggest we'll be getting more of them ... and now we think we're beginning to see it in reality."
No weather event or bizarre season or even stubborn two-year drought proves anything about a warming planet. Even a "superstorm," the news media's term for Hurricane Sandy after it dropped from hurricane status, could wind up being a once-in-a-lifetime affair for the New York City region.