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Sierra Daily

Oct 26, 2012

Storm Warnings

Hurricane sandy

The Eastern Seaboard is bracing for an unprecedented weather event: the possibility that Hurricane Sandy might combine with a strong winter trough of low pressure to create a "Frankenstorm." Jeff Masters at WunderBlog warns that the storm--which may coincide with a full moon and high tides--could result in an exceptionally large storm surge of 3 to 6 feet.

If Sandy hits Long Island, as the GFS model predicts, the storm surge will be capable of over-topping the flood walls in Manhattan and flooding portions of the New York City subway system. Fresh water flooding from heavy rains is also a huge concern. Rainfall amounts of 5 - 10 inches will occur over several hundred mile-long swath of coast, with isolated amounts of 15 inches possible.  

The storm has already resulted in at least 21 deaths in Jamaica and Cuba, and our thoughts are with all our friends and colleagues on the East Coast. Because this is Sierra Daily, however, we are obliged to point out that, according to ClimateProgress, of 94 stories mentioning the storm in major newspapers in the past week, not one included the words "climate change," "global warming," or "extreme weather." It is worth noting here that the American Meteorological Society, whose members are now dispensing invaluable predictions regarding Sandy, issued a statement in August warning that climate change could be expected to increase the number of such severe storms.

Weather patterns will continue to vary from day to day and from season to season, but the
frequency of particular patterns and extreme weather and climate events may change as a result of global warming. Model simulations project an increased proportion of global hurricanes that are in the strongest categories, namely 4 and 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, although the total counts of hurricanes may not change or may even decrease.

Climate deniers come in various sorts. Some, like Christopher Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, get lots of press for being colorful and extreme. But the more dangerous deniers are those in the press who refuse to identify the cause of the increasingly extreme events affecting their readers' lives--and thereby delaying the day when our country will address it.

Satellite image: NASA GOES Project, taken Friday at 10:15 EDT

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PAUL RAUBER is a senior editor at Sierra. He is the author, with Carl Pope, of the happily outdated Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress. Otherwise he is a cyclist, cook, and father of two. Follow him on Twitter @paulrauber.

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