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Minneapolis, St. Paul among cities worst hit by climate change

Minneapolis and St. Paul rank among the top 10 U.S. cities most affected by climate change.

Minneapolis and St. Paul rank among the top 10 U.S. cities most affected by climate change.

Build bomb shelters, raid Costco's canned food aisle and fill all of your gas cans. It's time to freakin' panic, Minnesota!

A new list pegs Minneapolis and St. Paul as two of the 25 U.S. cities most affected by climate change, so surely a “Mad Max”-style dystopia is nigh.

“I do not think you're doomed, certainly not,” says Michele Berger, the Weather.com science editor who authored the report.

But having each of the Twin Cities land in the top 10 – with Minneapolis in the uncoveted No. 2 slot – can't be a good thing.

The weather authorities weighted a handful of factors in compiling the list – sea-level rise, flooding and extreme heat, drought and the frequency of big ol' storms. Despite the study giving sea-level rise and projected flood loss costs the most meat, land-locked Minneapolis was second only to hurricane bullseye New Orleans.

“I've heard surprise about Minneapolis being ranked No. 2,” Berger says. “But I'm looking at the data in front of me right now and pretty much across the board, except for sea-level rise, it was affected by all the other factors we looked at.”

Figures, graphs and such indicate that at current greenhouse gas emission levels, Minneapolis and St. Paul are on track to get much drier in the next 50 years, while the Saintly City could be thwacked with more wild storms. Between 1958 and 2012, Minneapolis had a 40 percent increase in those “extreme” storms.

For all the Twin Cities' ballyhooed green space, another reason we ranked so high on the undesirable list is what Bill Nye types call the urban heat island effect. It's the idea that concrete jungles absorb the sun's rays and heat up, whereas green spaces reflect the sunlight better.

Stats Weather.com used from Climate Central show that within a few years Minneapolis could be 22 degrees hotter in the summertime than its surrounding farm country. St. Paul was not included in that study, which only looked at the largest 60 cities in the country. The data set's inclusion is likely why Minneapolis landed ahead of St. Paul, Berger says.

This list is based on current emission levels and, as Berger writes, Minneapolis isn't “waiting around” for gnarly climate changes. The list points to the city's sustainability plan, which calls for reducing energy consumption 17 percent and 10 percent renewable energy boost by 2025.

“It's an overall issue with the country,” says the science journo. “We have to take steps to change the greenhouse gas emissions that we are putting out there and we have to be willing to do that. So it's not just one place in particular, but cities at the local level are actually making the changes more so than even many states are doing.”

Send news tips to Michael Rietmulder.