Facts About The Super Storm—Global Warming May Well Play A Part In The Storm’s Projected Intensity
(Update 10/28/12–Here is the latest story from The New York Times on the progress of the storm. The National Atmospheric and Oceanic Adminstration link below continues to note the course of the storm.)
There is a giant storm headed for east coast of the United States and for inland areas of the nation as well. Some are calling this storm a “Frankenstorm.”
(Above–A recent satellite image of Hurricane Sandy and the eastern half of the United States.)
From Bloomberg Businessweek—
The superstorm expected to develop from Hurricane Sandy probably will mean that millions of people lose power for a week as airplanes are grounded and coastal areas are flooded by tidal surge and rain. The system, dubbed “Frankenstorm” by the National Weather Service, will grow out of Sandy and two other storms rushing eastward across the U.S….Because of the large size of the system and the slow motion, it’s going to be a long-lasting event, two to three days of impacts for a lot of people,” said James Franklin, branch chief at the National Hurricane Center. “The kinds of things we are looking at ultimately would be wind damage, widespread power outages, heavy rainfall, inland flooding and again, somebody is going to get a significant surge event out of this.” Sandy is expected to be so large it will cover the eastern third of the United States, said Louis Uccellini, director of the National Centers for Environmental Protection in College Park, Maryland. …’
A candidate for Congress in Rhode Island has asked that supporters take down his campaign yard signs so they don’t become projectiles in the storm.
Does this storm have anything to do with global warming?
“Hurricanes are expected to dump 20% more rain in their cores by the year 2100, according to modeling studies (Knutson et al., 2010). This occurs since a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor, which can then condense into heavier rains. Furthermore, the condensation process releases heat energy (latent heat), which invigorates the storm, making its updrafts stronger and creating even more rain. We may already be seeing an increase in rainfall from hurricanes due to a warmer atmosphere. A 2010 study by Kunkel et al. “Recent increases in U.S. heavy precipitation associated with tropical cyclones”, found that although there is no evidence for a long-term increase in North American mainland land-falling tropical cyclones (which include both hurricanes and tropical storms), the number of heavy precipitation events, defined as 1-in-5-year events, more than doubled between 1994 – 2008, compared to the long-term average from 1895 – 2008. As I discussed in a 2011 post ”Tropical Storm Lee’s flood in Binghamton: was global warming the final straw?”, an increase in heavy precipitation events in the 21st Century due to climate change is going to be a big problem for a flood control system designed for the 20th Century’s climate.”
What is our response to climate change as a nation?
The issue did not come at all in the Presidential debates.
Also, our weather satellites are aging and breaking down and we don’t have all the information we need to track weather systems.
“The United States is facing a year or more without crucial satellites that provide invaluable data for predicting storm tracks, a result of years of mismanagement, lack of financing and delays in launching replacements, according to several recent official reviews.”
Hopefully the storm will weaken and people in the path of the storm will be well-prepared and safe.