Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Rapidly Warming Arctic Leading to Deadly Extreme Weather Events

Rapid Arctic warming since 2000 may be reshaping and rerouting the narrow current of high winds across the Northern Hemisphere known as the jet stream, forcing it to act like a giant stop light at 30,000 feet.
This leads to stalled and prolonged weather systems that can bring deadly extreme heat and rainfall events, a new study has found.
The study, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the latest in a wave of research focused on the potential ties between melting sea ice and skyrocketing air temperatures throughout the Arctic, and extreme weather events in the northern midlatitudes, including the U.S., Europe and Asia.
The study adds to growing evidence that manmade global warming may already be reshaping today's weather patterns in ways that favor dangerous storms.

6 Extreme Weather Events that Pummeled America this Summer

This summer, we have witnessed a number of extreme meteorologic and geologic events. Here are some of the worst in the U.S.:

California drought
Since May, California has faced a historic drought, resulting in the loss of 63 trillion gallons of water. 95.4 percent of the state is now experiencing "severe" drought conditions, which is only a marginal improvement from 97.5 percent last week.

Great Plains tornadoes
From June 16-18 this year, the Midwest was slammed by a series of four tornadoes, all ranking as category EF4--meaning the winds reached up to 200 miles per hour. An unlucky town called Pilger in Nebraska was hit especially hard, suffering through twin tornadoes, an extreme event that may only occur every few decades. The two that swept through the town killed two people, injured 16 and demolished as many as 50 homes. 
Michigan flooding
On Aug. 11, Detroit's wettest day in 89 years -- with rainfall at 4.57 inches -- resulted in the flooding of at least five major freeways, leading to three deaths, more than 1,000 cars being abandoned on the road and thousands of ruined basements. Gov. Rick Snyder declared it a disaster. It took officials two full days to clear the roads. Weeks later, FEMA is finally set to begin assessing damage. 
Yosemite wildfires
An extreme wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park forced authorities toevacuate 13,000 nearby residents, while the Madera County sheriff declared a local emergency. The summer has been marked by several wildfires due to California's extreme drought, which causes vegetation to become perfect kindling. 

Hawaii hurricanes
Hurricane Iselle was set to be the first hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii in 22 years. It was downgraded to a tropical storm and didn't end up being nearly as disastrous as it could have been, but it still managed to essentially shut down the entire state for a day, as businesses and residents hunkered down in preparation, with many boarding up their windows to guard against strong gusts. The storm resulted in downed trees, 21,000 people out of power and a number of damaged homes.
Florida red tide
A major red tide bloom can reach more than 100 miles along the coast and around 30 miles offshore. Although you can't really see it in the above photo, the effects are devastating for wildlife. This summer, Florida was hit by an enormous, lingering red tide, also known as a harmful algae bloom (HAB), which occurs when algae grow out of control. HABs are toxic to fish, crabs, octopuses and other sea creatures, and this one resulted in the death of thousands of fish. When the HAB gets close enough to shore, it can also have an effect on air quality, making it harder for people to breathe.  


Fire and water – how global warming is making weather more extreme and costing us money

Connecting the dots between human-caused global warming and specific extreme weather events has been a challenge for climate scientists, but recent research has made significant advances in this area. Links have been found between some very damaging extreme weather events and climate change.

There are several ways in which global warming intensifies drought. Hotter temperatures increase evaporation from soil and reservoirs. They cause more precipitation to fall as rain and less as snow, which for a region like California that relies on the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains as its natural water storage system, is problematic. Hotter temperatures also cause the snowpack to melt earlier in the year. The problem can be alleviated by building more water storage infrastructure, but that costs money.

Global warming is putting extreme weather on steroids. That creates all kinds of costs from more expensive food bills due to drought, to more property damage from higher hurricane storm surges, to higher firefighting costs. Climate contrarians love to exaggerate the costs of reducing carbon pollution, but the even higher costs of allowing global warming to continue are far too often overlooked.


California's 100-year drought

California is in the third year of one of the state's worst droughts in the past century, one that's led to fierce wildfires, water shortages and restrictions, and potentially staggering agricultural losses.
The dryness in California is only part of a longer-term, 15-year drought across most of the Western USA, one that bioclimatologist Park Williams said is notable because "more area in the West has persistently been in drought during the past 15 years than in any other 15-year period since the 1150s and 1160s" — that's more than 850 years ago.


Regional Drought

Take Jamaica, for example, a recent news report suggests that water resources in the Kingston Metropolitan are on the brink of being depleted. To be specific, the report suggests that only One month's supply of water in Corporate Area is available. Except for may be Cuba and the Bahamas, the rest of the Caribbean is experiencing below normal rainfall, and drought conditions could get worse if conditions continue as is. The subtropical jet is further south in El Nino/warm ENSO years, this will generally increase the upper level winds across the Caribbean and the tropical Atlantic, which enhances vertical wind shear across the aforementioned area. These conditions tend to suppress tropical cyclone development, with accompanying dryer than normal conditions in the main development region.

Total flood damage in Warren alone estimated at $231 million

WARREN, MI -- Flooding that followed extraordinary rainfall Aug. 11 caused more than $231 million in property damage at 22,782 affected homes and buildings, according to the mayor's office.
Overtime pay for city employees in the flood's aftermath cost the city $157,566, according to Warren Mary Jim Fouts.
Warren was one of the hardest hit communities in widespread flooding that came after more than 6 inches of rain fell in some parts of Metro Detroit.
Fouts said total damage in Warren was estimated at over $231 million, including $10 million at the U.S. Army Garrison Detroit Arsenal on 11 Mile Road.
Damage at residential properties totaled nearly $142 million and commercial and industrial buildings saw more than $78 million, according to the Warren mayor's office. http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2014/08/total_flood_damage_in_warren_a.html


6,000 Manhattan residents lose power in latest bout of severe weather

    Thunderstorms impacted parts of northeast and central Kansas on Sunday night, delivering rainfall and power outages to Manhattan and the surrounding areas.
“We had approximately 6,000 customers (in the Manhattan area) that lost power as a result of last night’s storm,” said Gina Penzig, Westar Energy’s director of corporate communications.
Penzig said there were two large scale outages and a handful of smaller outages Sunday. The first large outage began at approximately 8:30 p.m. and affected about 2,000 customers. The second occurred at approximately 10 p.m. and affected approximately 2,600 customers. The storm provided 1.27 inches of rain to Manhattan at Manhattan Regional Airport, Byrne said. The storm came from a cold front in Nebraska that pushed into Kansas, and created a line of storms from Wichita up to the Kansas City metro area .http://www.kstatecollegian.com/2014/09/01/6000-manhattan-residents-lose-power-in-latest-bout-of-severe-weather/
6,000 Manhattan residents lose power in latest bout of severe weather