The Grand Portage Reservation is at the northeastern tip of Minnesota. The Air Quality Program has many ongoing projects in order to maintain healthy indoor and outdoor air. These projects include monitoring for regional haze and particulate matter, indoor air quality, invasive plant removal, public outreach, environmental education, alternative energy, and climate change.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Perfect Storm 2?

The meteorological world is buzzing about the confluence of Hurricane Sandy with a strong cold front over the eastern seaboard next week, with headlines screaming "Superstorm" that could affect millions of people with high winds, storm surges, and power outages. There is an eerie similarity to 1991's "perfect storm" of movie fame, although this storm has the potential to cause much more damage because the 1991 storm did not make landfall.
Image from Climate Progress

According to The Weather Channel's Brian Norcross this storm is "unprecedented and bizzare" and has also been compared to the hurricane of 1938 which killed hundreds in New England. People are being warned to prepare for the worst and evacuation routes from the coast are already in place. If you have travel plans for the east coast next week I would suggest changing them since this is a very slow moving storm that has already killed dozens in the Caribbean.

One thing you will not hear mentioned much in the breathless reporting on the storm are the words "climate change". While no single weather event can be directly attributed to climate change, the odds become greater for storms like this as the world warms. Climate scientist James Hansen likens it to "loading the dice" where the likelihood of more powerful storms becomes greater. Another analogy would be to a baseball player taking steroids to increase their home run total. While no single home run could be attributed to steroids, the statistical increase in home runs would lead to the suspicion that something odd is going on. Extreme precipitation events have increased significantly since 1948, and this is in line with what climate scientists have predicted for a warmer world. Storms like this one may become commonplace during the latter half of the 21st century, and people will need to become more aware of potential weather hazards no matter where they live.

I think I had better tune up my chainsaw and generator.

UPDATE: For the third time this year alone floods have crippled a city in the Lake Superior basin

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