Hurricane Sandy is expected to make landfall in the eastern United States late Monday or early Tuesday after already causing 41 deaths in the Bahamas and the Caribbean. New York, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., have already declared states of emergency.
The storm is a Category 1 hurricane with winds up to 75 miles per hour. It is expected to converge with a separate winter storm coming from the west. The resultant superstorm could last for several days and result in more than $1 billion worth of damage.
And in a year that’s produced some of the most extreme weather ever recorded in the U.S., there are questions of whether the “frankenstorm” (as it’s been dubbed) could possibly be related to climate change.
Like a baseball player on steroids, our climate system is breaking records at an unnatural pace. And like a baseball player on steroids, it’s the wrong question to ask whether a given home run is “caused” by steroids.
As Kevin Trenberth, former head of the Climate Analysis Section at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, has written, all superstorms “are affected by climate change.”
...The climate change link may be more than just more precipitation. A 2010 study found “Global warming is the main cause of a significant intensification in the North Atlantic Subtropical High.”
Suzanne Goldenberg at The Guardian wonders whether the vicious storm on the Eastern Seaboard will compel President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to address the issue of global warming in what little time remains of their campaigns. A Yale study conducted last month found that 70 percent of Americans now believe in climate change.
Suzanne Goldenberg at The Guardian:
Environmental campaigners are hoping that the approach of Hurricane Sandy will at last force Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to talk about the strange absence of that existential crisis known as climate change from this campaign.
Extreme weather is a strong contemporary signal for climate change. Campaign groups believe the extreme weather of 2011 and 2012 – with hurricanes, heat waves, floods, droughts, wildfires in the US and the epic melting in the Arctic – are behind a sharp rise in the number of Americans who believe in global warming over the last two years.
Some 70% of Americans believe in climate change, according to a Yale survey* last month, up 13% from 2010.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly and Tracy Bloom.
NASA Goddard Photo and Video (CC BY 2.0)
This satellite image taken Friday shows Hurricane Sandy’s 2,000 miles of clouds centered over the Bahamas along with a powerful cold front approaching the U.S. East Coast.