While climate change may not have been a high profile issue in the 2012 Presidential elections, the super-storm known as Hurricane Sandy will not let American voters forget the dire implications of a world ravaged by climate change. Even before hurricane Sandy strikes the US, it had already killed 65 people in the Caribbean. Sandy is almost one thousand miles across (1600 kilometers) and it will affect people from the East Coast to the Great Lakes. The mega-storm threatens 50 million people, many of which are expected to be left without electricity for days. In addition to the wind and rain, snow is anticipated to follow the initial onslaught. In places like the mountains of West Virginia weather forecasters are calling for as much as 3 feet of snow. A total of 7,000 flights in and out of the East have also been canceled due to the storm.
With ocean surges expected to be as high as 11 feet high (over 3m) in the New York City area, subways and schools are closed as is the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, (the first unplanned shutdown since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001). “If you don’t evacuate, you are not only endangering your life, you are also endangering the lives of the first responders who are going in to rescue you,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned. “This is a serious and dangerous storm.”
President Barack Obama declared emergencies in
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and
Pennsylvania, authorizing federal relief work to begin well ahead of
The sea surface temperatures along the Atlantic coast have been running at over 3C above normal for a region extending 800km off shore all the way from Florida to Canada. Global warming contributes 0.6C to this. With every degree C, the water holding of the atmosphere goes up 7%, and the moisture provides fuel for the tropical storm, increases its intensity, and magnifies the rainfall by double that amount compared with normal conditions.
On Sunday afternoon Sandy was already causing winds gusting up to 64 mph (103km/h) in North Carolina. Heavy rains are already occurring from North Carolina to New Jersey. One of the most significant risks is from the coastal storm surge on top of very high sea levels made higher by climate change.
Forecasters are tracking the monster storm as it heads for the coast of New Jersey. It is expected to make landfall on Monday night or early Tuesday and it will combine with two other weather systems to create an epic super-storm.
Those who want to know what weather will look like if we do nothing to manage climate change need look no further than hurricane Sandy.
© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
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