As the world grapples with the unpredictable effects of climate change, the erratic weather that battered the U.S. in 2011 could be the new normal. Twisters, freak storms, and wildfires ravaged much of the country. The east coast even felt its first major earthquake in years. A a deadly twister in Joplin, Mo. the worst in a series of tornadoes that ripped through the South and the Midwest wiped out much of the town and killed more than 160 of its residents in late May. In June, a monstrous wildfire swallowed six hundred square miles in Arizona. A few months later, Hurricane Irene made deadly landfall in North Carolina, although by the time it reached New York City the storm had puttered out to a heavy shower forcing sheepish grins from a national media that had hunkered down in the Big Apple, prophesying scenes of doom for days in advance.