A deadly blizzard is winding down today in the Plains states after dropping up to two feet of snow, with drifts several feet higher than that, in portions of New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas. Drought-busting precipitation fell in Texas and Oklahoma, two states that have been stricken with the worst one-year drought on record.
According to the National Weather Service, the storm is being blamed for at least six deaths, and motorists had to be rescued from their cars in the Texas panhandle after they became stuck in the wind-driven snow.
The Weather Channel has an online gallery that shows just what a wind-driven snowstorm in this part of the country looks like (hint: snow drifts upwards of 10 feet tall). You can graphically explore snow and wind reports by going to this handy National Weather Service site. Some reported snow totals include 12 inches in Scott City, Kansas, 15 inches in Springfield, Colorado, and two feet in Pietown, New Mexico (yes, that is a real town).
Tropical Storm Washi Becomes 2011's Deadliest Storm
Tropical Storm Washi, which caused flash flooding on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines over the weekend, has become the deadliest weather event of 2011, with a death toll at 1,000 and rising, according to news reports. As I wrote yesterday, although the Philippines are frequently struck by tropical storms and hurricanes (known as typhoons there), Mindanao is far enough south to escape most of the destructive...
The death toll from Tropical Storm Washi, which struck the southern island of Mindanao in the Philippines over the weekend, has reached at least 900 and climbing. The storm may soon become the deadliest storm of 2011, beating out flash floods in Brazil in January.
Although the Philippines overall is a country that is no stranger to tropical cyclones, these storms typically bypass the southernmost areas, which means that Washi struck a relatively unprepared population.
Washi made landfall on Saturday night as a minimal tropical storm with 45 mph winds, but it was embedded within a massive plume of tropical moisture that contributed to heavy rainfall on the island that lasted for as long as 100 hours. The flash flooding that resulted swept people from their homes, leaving destroyed communities in their wake. As the New York Times reports:
In neighborhoods throughout the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines, similar stories could be heard: Flash floods caused by Tropical Storm Washi surged into the homes of sleeping families, and hundreds were drowned or dragged to their deaths by the currents.
The storm hit an area in the Philippines that is not accustomed to tropical storms and typhoons, since such storms typically form and make landfall to the north of the island of Mindanao. This unfamiliarity with such storms heightened the risks of a mass casualty event.
Over at Weather Underground, Jeff M...
If a new PC or hard drive is on your holiday wish list, you may be in for a rude surprise: supplies are running low and prices have skyrocketed, all because of an extreme weather event that took place halfway around the world.
One wouldn’t normally think of the weather as a key factor governing supplies of electronic equipment. This isn’t cotton or rice that we’re talking about; it’s high-tech equipment that’s manufactured indoors, in climate-controlled facilities. Nevertheless, even typically non-weather sensitive businesses can become victims of extreme events like heavy rainfall, which is becoming more frequent and intense due to global warming.
The flooded Pakkret area in Bangkok, Thailand on October 13, 2011. Flickr/Philip Roeland.
During the fall, massive flooding in Thailand inundated the factories of some of the world’s leading hard-drive manufacturers, such as Western Digital. According to the Wall Street Journal, 40 percent of all hard drives on the market are built in Thailand. And as the Global Post reports today, many of the factories are situated in the same industrial zone that sits in a floodplain north of Bangkok. "The pungent waters, which shut down more than 800 factories employing roughly 450,000 workers, are now struggling to repair or replace equipment left soaking for weeks,” the Post reports, quoting the CEO of Hana Electronics as saying:
“Frankly speaking, we’ve realized with hindsight that we’re in the wrong place... We’re in a flood zone."
The flooding, which forced the evacuation of large parts of densel...
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced today that the official list of billion dollar weather and climate disasters in 2011 is now up to 12, smashing the old record of nine, set in 2008. The total damage from these 12 events alone, says NOAA, stands at $52 billion and still rising — a hefty price tag in any case, but especially tough in a sluggish economy.
The NOAA list got bigger after the agency separated out the Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona wildfires from the larger Southern Plains drought and heat event (it's not cheating: the agency says this is consistent with how it has treated wildfires in the past). In addition, damage from the burst of tornadoes and other severe weather that hit the Midwest and Southeast from June 18-22 has just risen above the $1 billion threshold. The costs of the October snowstorm in the Northeast and Tropical Storm Lee, says NOAA, have not exceeded $1 billion — yet.
That's NOAA's version. As I reported last month, however, a different analysis, from the insurance company Aon Benfield, pegged the number of $1 billion disasters at 14. But whether the total is 12 or 14, one thing is clear: this was a record year for extreme weather in the US. In fact, as the AP's Seth Borenstein noted, "2011 has seen more weather catastrophes that caused at least $1 billion in damage than it did in all of the 1980s, even after the dollar figures from back then are adjusted for inflation."
Sea level rise and increased flood risk are just a few of the impacts of global climate change expected in New Jersey. Credit: jerseygal2009/flickr.
A couple weeks ago I wrote about a new report describing the projected impacts of global climate change on New York State. A quick refresher: more heat waves and more intense rainfall are expected to affect everything from agriculture to water and energy resources, and potentially even major parts of the state’s transportation infrastructure.
Of course, New York isn’t the only state that will experience the impacts of the changing climate. They aren’t the only one now examining their vulnerabilities, either. Officials in neighboring New Jersey are beginning to assess the state’s climate-related risks as well.
At a workshop held at Rutgers University earlier this week, local climate change experts and policy makers discussed not only how the climate may change over the next several decades, but also what the economic, environmental and health consequences could be.
Climate scientists predict that New Jersey, like other Northeast states, will see more hot days (think: summers in which long stretches of 100-degree-plus heat will be the norm) that may harm crops and raise electricity demand. On top of that, heavier rains and higher coastal water levels caused by sea level rise are going to make damaging floods much more likely throughout the state. In a year in which flooding has already cost the Garden State dearly, news of more frequent serious floods isn’t encouraging.
Experts at the workshop pointed out that the effects of global warming have alre...