By Becky Oskin, LiveScience Staff Writer:

Call it weird, call it extreme, maybe even call it the new normal. Wild weather in the United States in the past decade has amassed a long list of toppled records and financial disasters.

Some of these exceptional weather events included unusually heavy rain and snow. Now, a new study confirms that everywhere except in the Atlantic Plains region, more rain and snow is falling during wet and dry seasons alike. The Atlantic Plains are the flatlands along the central and southern Atlantic Coast that stretch from Massachusetts to Mississippi. On average, the total precipitation in the contiguous United States has increased 5.9 percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

What's more, the timing has changed too. In some parts of the United States, dry seasons are arriving earlier and wet seasons are starting later than they did 80 years ago. The time shift does not necessarily extend the length of dry or wet seasons, because most areas have transitional periods in between these precipitation extremes. In the Ohio River Valley, the fall dry season starts two to three weeks earlier today, the researchers report. In east New York, the wet season now kicks off on Jan. 8 instead of Feb. 1. And in the Southwest, the summer monsoon is starting later than it did during the middle of the 20th century. [In Images: Extreme Weather Around the World]

"The effects vary from region to region," said Indrani Pal, lead study author and a water resources engineer at the University of Colorado in Denver. "This study has a lot of implications from an ecology and water management perspective, and for extreme events like droughts and floods as well."

wild weather


wild weather

Flood conditions appear far worse in April 2011 than a year earlier, as the Wabash, Ohio, Black, and Mississippi Rivers are all considerably higher. Credit: NASA, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center.

Altering the timing of dry and wet season starts can significantly affect agriculture and cities, Pal said. In the Southwest, water contracts rely on the timing of spring snowmelt and summer monsoons to generate hydroelectric power and water for farming and millions of residents.

Pal and her colleagues analyzed data from 774 weather stations across the United States with a continuous record since 1930. They found an overall drop in dry spells (the number of days without precipitation) between 1930 and 2009 in most regions of the country. For instance, there were 15 more precipitation days (rain or snow) during the dry season in the Central and Great Plains, and 20 more precipitation days during the wet season in the Midwest and intermountain regions today than 80 years ago. However, the length of dry spells during the wet season, a drought indicator, increased by 50 percent in the Atlantic Plains.

Pal said the study cannot answer whether climate change is causing the seasonal shifts in precipitations. "This opens many other research doors," she told LiveScience. "We would like to find what is actually affecting this shift. It's probably a mixture of natural variability and climate change," Pal said.

The findings were published July 19 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Email Becky Oskin or follow her @beckyoskin. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScience.com.

Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • In this photo provided by Cathy Pasquariello, a storm cloud approaches Ocean City, Md. on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011. The National Weather Service is looking into reports of a tornado in Ocean City. Rick Curry, NWS observation program leader in Wakefield, Va., says there have been unconfirmed reports of a tornado and wind damage near 75th Street on Thursday afternoon. He says a storm was moving through the area at the time. Fire department spokesman Ryan Whittington says buildings and multiple vehicles were damaged in the 75th Street area, but no major injuries were reported. He says town officials are working with NWS to determine what kind of weather event caused the damage. (AP Photo/Cathy Pasquariello)

  • Alabama Severe Weather

    A funnel cloud appears in the distance in Level Plains, Ala., near U.S. Highway 84 and Dale County Road 1, Sunday, June 10, 2012. The area was under a tornado warning until 12:15 p.m. There is no official word of any injuries. (AP Photo/Dothan Eagle, Max Oden)

  • In this photo provided by Gothamist, dark clouds loom over the skyline, Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012, in New York. Two tornadoes struck New York City on Saturday, one swept out of the sea and hit a beachfront neighborhood and the second, stronger twister hit moments later, hurling debris in the air, knocking out power and startling residents who once thought of twisters as a Midwestern phenomenon. (AP Photo/Gothamist, Jake Dobkin) MANDATORY CREDIT

  • This photo provided by Joey Mure, shows a storm cloud over the Breezy Point area of Queens section of New York, on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012. A Fire Department spokesman said there were power lines down and possibly other damage in the Point Breeze section of the Rockaway peninsula in Queens. The general manager of the Breezy Point Surf Club tells the Associated Press the storm ripped up cabanas and even picked up industrial-sized metal trash bins. The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Queens and Brooklyn as a line of strong thunderstorms moved through the city. The service said radar detected a "strong rotation" in the storm, but there was no immediate confirmation that a twister actually formed. (AP Photo/Joey Mure)

  • Storm clouds move over west of Palmyra, Ind.,, Friday, Mar. 2, 2012 Powerful storms stretching from the U.S. Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes in the north wrecked two small towns, killed at least three people and bred anxiety across a wide swath of the country on Friday, in the second deadly tornado outbreak this week. (AP Photo/The Courier-Journal,David Lee Hartlage) MAGS OUT; NO ARCHIVE; MANDATORY CREDIT

  • This photo provided by Michael Abrams, shows a storm cloud over the Breezy Point area of Queens section of New York, on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012. A Fire Department spokesman said there were power lines down and possibly other damage in the Point Breeze section of the Rockaway peninsula in Queens. The general manager of the Breezy Point Surf Club tells the Associated Press the storm ripped up cabanas and even picked up industrial-sized metal trash bins. The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Queens and Brooklyn as a line of strong thunderstorms moved through the city. The service said radar detected a "strong rotation" in the storm, but there was no immediate confirmation that a twister actually formed. (AP Photo/Michael Abrams) MANDATORY CREDIT

  • Texas Tornado Weather

    Threatening clouds continue to move through southern Tarrant and Dallas counties after a tornado swept through Lancaster, Texas on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. Tornadoes tore through the Dallas area Tuesday, peeling roofs off homes, tossing big-rig trucks into the air and leaving flattened tractor trailers strewn along highways and parking lots. (AP Photo/The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Ron Ennis) MAGS OUT

  • Texas Weather

    Lightning streaks across the sky in Tyler, Texas as a powerful line of thunderstorms, several spawning tornados moved across Texas, Tuesday evening, April 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Dr. Scott M. Lieberman)

  • A Thursday, June 7, 2012 photo provided by Andrew Kniss shows a funnel cloud, seen from Kniss's car on Highway 34, near Wheatland, Wyoming. The rare quarter-mile-wide tornado cut a swath across mainly open country in southeastern Wyoming, damaging homes, derailing empty train cars and leaving one person with minor injuries, officials said. The twister was part of a powerful storm system that rolled through parts of Colorado and Wyoming Thursday afternoon and evening, packing heavy rains, high winds and hail. (AP Photo/Andrew Kniss)

  • A funnel cloud dips down from the clouds on Saturday, April 14, 2012, just southwest of Otis, Kansas as severe thunderstorms roll across Kansas. The funnel touched down briefly before the storm weakened. Supercell thunderstorms spawned numerous tornadoes in Kansas on Saturday. (AP Photo/The Hays Daily News, Steven Hausler)

  • A funnel cloud begins to form over the Canebrake Subdivision of Athens, Ala., Friday, March 2, 2012. Homes were damaged and utilities were interrupted when several suspected tornadoes struck Limestone County Friday morning. (AP Photo/Chris Simmons, Athens Fire and Rescue Dept.)

  • A funnel cloud is seen, Monday, Nov. 7, 2011, near Tipton, Okla. Officials say an agriculture office was destroyed and other buildings damaged as tornadoes touched down in southwestern Oklahoma Monday. Tornadoes are most prevalent in Oklahoma in the spring, but the state has a secondary severe weather season in autumn. (AP Photo/The Frederick Leader, Jennifer Grice) MANDATORY CREDIT

  • Also On The Huffington Post...

    Check out this amazing video of a tornado touching down in Northern California. The twister hit on Tuesday in Tehama County, just south of Redding, bringing lightning and large hail. The tornado reportedly tore the roof off one home. There were reports of two other tornadoes — one in Richfield, and the other east of the I-5 between Corning and Red Bluff. Fortunately, the extreme weather is not being blamed for any injuries.