(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.
It has been nearly five years since the terrible Indian Ocean tsunami killed at least 200,000 people in Asian-Pacific nations. There were deaths in Africa as well.
The tsunami took place on December 26, 2004.
(Above—The 2004 tsunami on the move in Ao Nang, Thailand.)
Here is an explanation of what causes tsunamis and how they do their damage.
In early 2005, National Geographic.com said the following about this tsunami—
“The earthquake that generated the great Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 is estimated to have released the energy of 23,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs, according to the U.S. Geological Survey”
Here is the link to the BBC special report on the tsunami. Article featured here discuss the impact of the tsunami all the up to 2008.
Here is a country-by-country report on the loss of life. More than 130,000 people were killed in Indonesia and at least 31,000 dies in Sri Lanka.
In addition to the dead, many people lost their homes in this disaster.
From the Reuters article—
“Ban Nam Khem, a small fishing village on Thailand’s Andaman Sea coast, lost nearly half its 5,000 people. Today it is a shell of its former self despite an outpouring of aid in one of the largest foreign fund-raising exercises in history…Its once-thriving center of dense waterfront stores, restaurants and wooden homes is gone, replaced with souvenir shops, a wave-shaped monument and a small building filled with photographs of the tsunami recovery effort….”So many people here are still looking for their family,” said Suvadee, a slight, 43-year-old woman with an easy smile and weathered hands that clutched worn photographs of her son.”
Rarely are we so down-and-out that some improvement in our condition is not possible.
In the United States, the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration has been bolstering tsunami early-warning systems.
“In December 2004, lack of an effective international warning system contributed to unprecedented loss of life when a tsunami devastated countless communities around the Indian Ocean and stunned the rest of the world. Through NOAA, the United States accelerated preparation for a potential tsunami along the U.S. coastline and efforts to build partnerships for an international warning program. According to NOAA tsunami experts, the key to surviving a destructive tsunami is people’s ability to receive warnings and willingness to act quickly to move inland or to higher ground.”
I am glad that in addition to making U.S. coastal areas more secure, that we have working to help other nations deal with the threat of tidal waves.
Terrible disasters in the world come and go and we forget about them once they are out of the news.
It is easy to forget. I’m guilty of forgetting myself.
If we forget, we will lose sight of the things we can do in the future to save lives as detailed by NOAA as they prepare for the next tsunami.
If we forget, we will lose sight of the fact that things can get better even after they have been as bad as it possibly seemed they could get.
(Below–Folks in-front of a Habitat for Humanity built home in the tsunami zone in Indonesia.)