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Oct

31
2012

Weekly review: October 24-31, 2012

Jodde     Blog     0

Perhaps the biggest news in extreme weather this week is Hurricane Sandy.  Hurricane Sandy is the largest storm on record.  In fact, it was so large that it caused damages in 22 states, and Ontario and Quebec in Canada.  In total, the storm has claimed at least 122 lives.  The storm was most damaging in Haiti and the United States.  In Haiti, 54 people were killed, and at least 51 were killed in the US.  One death in Jamaica is blamed on Sandy, as is one in Canada.  A man was crushed to death by falling rocks in Jamaica while running for his house.  A Toronto woman was killed when she was hit by flying debris.

President Barrack Obama and Mitt Romney were both forced to cancel important campaign stops in their bid for presidency.  Both candidates rendered the aid within their power to administer.

About 6.1million Americans were without power after the storm.  To put that into context that’s 2% of all Americans!  Some may be without power into next week.  More than 4,700 Canadians are also without power.

Hurricane Sandy has had a devastating economic toll as well.  It is believed to have caused $20 billion in infrastructure damage, and an additional $40 billion in business closures.  In New York, a flooded subway system ground mass transit to a halt, and the New York Stock Exchange has been closed for two days.

Peter Ticktin, the founder and President of The Global Warming Foundation has written a special message, viewable here.

 


Oct

24
2012

Weekly review: October 16-23, 2012

Jodde     Blog     0

A major dust storm in Oklahoma caused numerous injury accidents and pile ups.  The storm is blamed on the prolonged drought in the area, and farmers having recently loosened their soil in preparation for winter.  The prolonged drought that has parched the majority of the US is having new economic consequences.  Forty million extra pounds of pork have been produced recently, as compared to last year’s production.  In Lake Minnetonka, water levels have never been lower in 2012.  This is another in a long list of drought incidents that rival a severe event in 1980.   Meanwhile, farmers in Sri Lanka, who make up 37% of its population stand to lose 60% of their rice crop.  Officials claim that had they known about the dry weather to come, this humanitarian disaster could have been avoided.  Another devastating effect of droughts is the wildfires conditions they feed.  One such fire burning in Santa Barbara, California is now 75% contained.

In other news, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, had its first major snowfall this year.  This caused significant delays in traffic, along with a number of accidents as many Calgarians were caught off guard.  Many air travellers were delayed as well.

 


Aug

10
2012

Heat, Drought, and torrential rains continue

Jodde     Blog     0

A report released recently claims that the US has experienced its hottest July ever.  Recent months have also been exceedingly dry.  At least 63% of the US is suffering from drought conditions.  The hot dry conditions prevalent in the American midwest are causing a new alarming effect.  There has been a mass fish die off due to low water levels and hot temperatures the region’s rivers. The water levels on the Mississippi are so low that they are affecting barge traffic.  They must carry less cargo per trip to accomodate the shallower waters.  Meanwhile, new wildfire have started in Georgia, US, and Missouri .  Not all of droughts effects are bad for us, however.  This month, we have had record few tornadoes within the US.  There were only 24, which is dramatically less than the previous record low of 42 in the 1960’s.

Since precipitation is more or less constant, (although rising very slightly overall,) we should expect to see more precipitation in parts of the world not afflicted by the staggering drought engulfing the US.  In fact, this is exactly what we do see.  In the Philippines, heavy rains over the last two weeks killed at least 62 people!  First they were inundated by typhoon Saola, then battered by flash floods, triggering a deadly landslide, killing no less than nine of those 62.  In Taiwan, 44 people were killed by the same storm.  31 people have died in North Korea’s torrential rains, adding to the 88 who died there earlier in the month.  This is to say nothing of the crop devastation there.  30,600 hectares (75,600 acres) of crop land has been affected.


Jul

27
2012

Fire update and flood special report: July 20 – July 27, 2012

Jodde     Blog     0

Though this is about the storms that have been affecting various locations around the world, and some news about global warming studies, it would be incomplete without a brief update on the wildfire situation. A new report claims that at least 48 states have abnormally dry conditions, and that this is due to the combined effects of La Niña and man-made global warming. Lastly, over a million kilometers (621,000 miles) have disappeared in only nine days. Some of that melting occurred at even the coldest and highest point of Greenland. Wildfires have started in Greece, and Nebraska. The latter burning away over 50,000 acres (20,234 ha) making it almost three times as intense as the recent fire in Colorado, which has burned away about 18,000 acres (7284 ha).

There have been several reports of devastating rainfall and flooding. Taiwan was inundated with two feet of water, sparking massive evacuations. In China, the worst flooding in 60 years cut short the lives of 37 people. Southern Texas also suffered a deluge, namely in Harris and Montgommery counties, though high water was reported in several areas of southern and eastern Texas. Nobody has been reported missing there, but the counties both have water levels ranging from several inches to four feet. In the Philippines, two people have been confirmed killed, and six are missing due to flooding there. Japan has also had torrential downpours leading to massive flooding, which killed 27 people and left thousands without power. In India, more than 400,000 people were left homeless, and 191 died, after downpours there.

One man is dead in Austria after a landslide, sparked by heavy rains. Alaska also saw a record landslide of over five miles (8km.) A landslide in Nelson, British Columia, Canada caused the deaths of four people. While landslides and floods are not uncommon, floods often occur in spring, but the sheer number of floods and rain-induced landslides in the last two weeks, not to mention storms across the eastern US and Canada, suggests something out of the ordinary.

For a list of all articles in the last week, click here.


Jul

13
2012

Special wild fire and heat wave review: June 30- July 13, 2012

Jodde     Blog     0

A new report suggests that wild fires are 60% more likely as a result of global warming.  This study was done very quickly, so some scientists are skeptical of this claim.  Whichever camp is right, wild fires are a serious problem this year, many of them breaking records.  Of course the hellish heat dominating much of North America and Europe is record breaking too.  The heat did not let up in the eastern and mid US until July 9th.  Many cities in the eastern US that had been hit by storms were without power during the heat wave.  As best we know, severe heat is still affecting Bosnia, and parts of Alberta was baking with temperatures in excess of 40ºC (104ºF)  with the humidex.  We have seen story after story about these fires and heat.  Many of them were sparked by the drought conditions that predominated in the spring.  While la nina makes drought more likely, the amount we saw suggests that global warming is to blame.

There are new massive blazes that firefighters are dealing with.  One fire in Siberia is so huge that it is casting haze over British Columbia.  The smoke contains around 84 parts per billion of ozone, a gas harmful to human health.  Ozone levels have only been this high three times in seven years, according to officials.  The smoke also contained other pollutants.  Notably, it contains a great deal of CO2, which of course causes feedback and furthers global warming.  There is a new fire in Merritt, B.C., known for its annual country music festival, which is largely under control.  The blaze was 1.5 square miles (3.9 square km) at its peak.  Another fire in Alberta, Canada forced the evacuation of a hamlet there.  In Boise, Idaho, a fire is raging out of control at 117 square miles (305 square km).  Fire fighters are battling another monster conflagration in Wyoming, that one consuming 138 square miles (357 square km.)

With the severe fire season we are having this year, the prospect of a 60% increase in their likelihood, even if that likelihood is substantially small to begin with, is rather alarming.

For a list of all articles in the last two weeks, click here.

 


Jun

28
2012

Weekly review: June 20-27, 2012

Jodde     Blog     0

The northeastern United States started this week in the grips of a continuing heatwave, with temperatures in excess of 100ºF (37.7ºC) This was also true for the central plains states later in the week, with another wave of dizzyingly high temperatures headed for the eastern parts of the US. The heat wave is expected to bring record temperatures to parts of Tennessee. Europe is once again in the grips of a heat wave, with Serbia recording temperatures 6ºC above normal (10.8ºF above normal). Temperatures in the region have been reported as high as 50ºC (122ºF). Heat stroke, a severe medical condition that can cause sudden death, is possible under these conditions.

The record heat in the US is contributing to blazes across the western parts of the country. Yet another new wildfire in Colorado has grown to over 2,000 acres (809 ha).

Meanwhile, a flash flood has ravaged Sicamous, British Columbia, Canada. The town, popular among vacationers in western Canada due to its proximity to the Schuswap lake system. While the town suffered immense damage, fortunately no people were reported injured. Bangladesh had no such luck, with over 100 people dead in floods there.

In other news, Hurricane Debby formed and hit Florida, drenching the state and spawning tornadoes, causing thousands to flee the storm.

Click here to see a list of all stories this week.


Jun

21
2012

June 14 – 20, 2012

Jodde     Blog     0

Baseball sized hail wreaked havoc in Dallas this week, destroying a historic movie theater, and damaged thousands of homes and cars, totalling around $2 billion in damage.  Miami, Florida had bizarre weather this week.  A thunderstorm sparked a near-fatal lightning strike that hit three men.  This would hardly be newsworthy but for the fact that we are seeing a string of such lightning strikes.  We must be careful not to immediately draw the conclusion that lightning strikes are on the rise.  There may simply be more unlucky people, but we do think it suggests a strong likelihood that the intensity of electrical storms is increasing.  In other news, Hurricane Carlotta triggered a deadly landslide, tragically cutting short two children’s lives and possibly others.  Additionally, several zoo animals are dead after a flood in Duluth, Minnesota, which also caused severe damage to infrastructure and narrowly spared the life of an eight year old boy, who was swept away in a culvert.

Colorado is suffering from its worst fire in state history, with over 181 homes destroyed and about 290,000 acres (117,358 ha) burned.  This of course is just one of the record fires burning across the American West at the moment.

Click here to see a list of all stories this week.


Jun

15
2012

Weekly review: June 6-13, 2012

Jodde     Blog     0

This week saw droughts, floods and fires around the world.

Paducah, Kentucky is in the grips of its driest years on record. Meanwhile, Iowans faced yet another hot, cloudless week as they head towards drought conditions. Northern and Eastern India was gripped by intense heat as it waited for monsoon rains, which were delayed by more than a week. Temperatures there reached the low 40s C (mid 90s F), and when the rain does come, it is expected to be cut short by an El Niño.

While India eagerly awaited rain for a respite from the heat, Florida’s panhandle and southern Alabama experienced historic, deadly flooding. In Pensacola, Florida, 18 in. (45 cm) of rain fell in some places, causing a power outage to a prison, damaging several homes, and killing one man.

Firefighters in New Mexico and Colorado battled a massive, out-of-control blaze, one of the biggest in Colorado’s history. Smoke from the blaze blanketed Denver, despite being more than 60 miles away from the fire. As the fire progressed, more and more homes were forced to evacuate.

Click here to see a list of all stories this week.


Jun

07
2012

Weekly review: May 31 – June 7, 2012

Jodde     Blog     0

No summer in the United States has ever been hotter than 2011’s summer in Oklahoma, states a new report.  However, with temperatures in Death Valley, California reaching nearly 120ºF (48.8ºC), this record may not stick around long.  Arizona is also experiencing its share of immense heat, with a blistering 109ºF (42.8ºC). In New Delhi, the devastating effects of heat at 47ºC (116ºF) have already claimed the lives of two people; a rickshaw puller and a woman travelling with her family.

Drought also continues to be an issue in many areas, notably Indiana and South Korea this week.  The drought in Indiana is mitigated by cool temperatures, and farmers there can get by with intermittent rainfall.  South Korean farmers have only been able to plant about half their crops due to the excessively dry conditions.

More wild fires have making headlines this week.  While the blaze in New Mexico has yet to be brought under control, two new fires have started this week.  One is threatening Sequoia National Forest, and the other along the Utah/Nevada border has claimed the lives of two airborne firefighters when their plane crashed into the 5,000 acre inferno.

There were also reports of serious flooding this week.  To see these and all the stories of the past week, click here.


May

31
2012

Weekly review: May 23-30, 2012

Jodde     Blog     0

This week saw even more deleterious wildfires, mainly in Nevada and New Mexico.  Meanwhile, one person is dead after a wildfire in Texas. Besides being the largest New Mexico has ever seen, the fire has scorched more than 170,000 acres.  The massive blaze is attributed to drought conditions, and two separate fires merging.  A Michigan conflagration has left about 100 gutted structures in its wake, nearly 36 of those houses.  Several states are also still dealing with droughts, and the Amazon is experiencing record drought, which has the potential of accelerating global warming.  Additionally, as it has already done, it has the potential to spark conflict as people scramble to find enough water for themselves and their animals.

While the western and southwestern states battle intense blazes, most of the states is gripped by a massive heat wave, with temperatures in the United States as high as 95ºF (35ºC).  Temperatures in Indianapolis, Indiana were so high, that 700 spectators of the popular car race the Indy 500 had to be treated for heat related injuries.  The UK is also in the grips of a heat wave.  One wonders with the onslaught of heat waves we have been facing how solid the ice on Greenland is.  If that ice melts too fast, it could slow down the Gulf Stream.  Watch for a special report on that within the week.

In other news, there was a tornado in Serbia this week.   Unlike their North American counterparts, such storms are very rare in Serbia.

To see a list of all stories this week, click here.


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