Friday, March 06, 2015
An earthquake of a snowstorm
[USA Today] This winter's unexpected brutal snowstorms and deep freeze across the country caught us unprepared. Major disruptions and economic losses have been widespread, along with office and schools closings and flight and train cancellations. Under pressure, the head of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority stepped down last month because the 100-year-old system could not handle the severe weather.
Don't blame the weather. Parts of our country are simply ill-prepared for anything that deviates from normal operations. And these weather conditions don't even begin to tip the scale when compared with the havoc caused by much more devastating disasters that could happen tomorrow.
One can only imagine how the country will cope if California is hit by a long-overdue high-magnitude earthquake. Today, 90% of its residents do not have earthquake insurance and aging infrastructure is likely to fail, causing paralysis for weeks and extreme economic losses. But rather than moving to action mode now, many prefer to bury their heads. Read More
How do the Polar Vortex and Warming Relate? [Discovery] Temperatures are set to drop to levels that are low even for the middle of winter across the eastern U.S. starting Thursday and again over the weekend as Arctic air makes repeated surges southward. Temperatures Sunday morning could be below freezing as far south as Florida. This pattern may sound familiar to those in the eastern U.S. who shivered under repeated such incursions last winter, when the term “polar vortex” became all the rage. The non-stop sucker punches of frigid air also brought to the forefront the idea that global warming could paradoxically be behind them, with Arctic sea ice melt forcing wild dives in the jet stream up in the atmosphere. But it’s a hotly debated idea that has spurred a flurry of research, some of which bolsters the connection but still leaves key questions unanswered and many atmospheric scientists skeptical. Read More