Monday, 11 September 2017

Serious weather stuff!

Feeling virtuous, I went out running in the rain this morning. Once you accept that you are going to get wet it's not so bad. I avoided the footpaths and bridle paths I usually run along; a few days ago the mud puddles were forming nicely so by now they will have joined up and the paths will be impassable. The river, I noticed, was coming close to overflowing. Later in the day I heard of several roads in our area being flooded. And it keeps on raining - with periods of bright sunshine in between the showers. Most confusing!

In old stories dragons came swooping in, seemingly from nowhere, and caused devastation wherever they went. Beautiful creatures but incredibly destructive. News programmes have been showing photos of hurricanes seen from space. Beautiful swirling creatures, even if they lose a little strength as they cause havoc on land they build it up again as they cross the ocean, ready to swoop in like a dragon on their next target. Is our rainy weather a swish from the tail of the Irma hurricane-dragon? 

Here comes the scientific bit, courtesy of yesterday's paper:

 "Climate change cannot be blamed for the hurricane count in any single season, nor for the occurrence of any single storm, but there are three ways in which it is making the consequences worse.

First, although the intensity of a hurricane depends on many factors, warmer seawater tends to promote stronger storms. Average sea surface temperatures have been rising, and some parts of the North Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico are warmer that average at the moment, which is a key reason why both Harvey and Irma became so strong so quickly.

Second, a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapour, which can result in heavier rainfall. That is true not only for hurricanes but also for weaker storms across the world. Even relatively mild tropical storms can cause great damage by dropping huge volumes of rain over one area.

Third, apart from strong winds and heavy rainfall, hurricanes cause damage through storm surges as their winds push seawater ahead of them. Storm surges can inundate extensive low-lying coastal area, sweeping away everything in their path. Se levels have been gradually rising globally, making storm surges bigger and deadlier."

Eat your heart our climate change deniers!

Over in the sunshine state a young man called Ryan Edwards, in a moment of boredom apparently, posted on Facebook an invitation to people to shoot at Hurricane Irma and turn it around! He never expected this to be taken seriously - “The response is a complete and total surprise to me,” he said. “I never envisioned this event becoming some kind of crazy idea larger than myself. It has become something a little out of my control.” But 53,000 people expressed an interest in the event and 25,000 said they would participate. A Florida sheriff has had to plead with citizens not to do this. Shooting at hurricanes doesn't work!

Other suggestions have been whirling your arms very fast to blow it away or putting ice cubes in the ocean to cool the surface temperature. Crazy people!

Back here in the land of much more reasonable weather, I selected a rain free moment to pop to the next door pub/restaurant where I was meeting a friend for lunch and a catch-up. She reminisced about going to Barbados years ago with her then husband to visit his family there. They did not experience a hurricane but he told her about living through one when he was a child. They all took shelter in the church, the most stable building in their district, and emerged to find their house blown away. They had to collect the various components and rebuild it.

She and I are planning a visit to Cuba some time next year, to mark our both reaching a significant birthday. Some research is needed so that we do not go in the hurricane season!

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