November 8, 2013

Welcome to the New Normal

This is horrifying.

Super Typhoon Haiyan -- perhaps the strongest storm ever -- plowed Friday across the central Philippines, leaving widespread devastation in its wake.


With sustained winds of 315 kph (195 mph) and gusts as strong as 380 kph (235 mph), Haiyan may be the strongest tropical cyclone to hit land anywhere in recorded history. It will take further analysis after the storm passes to establish whether it is a record.

As a comparison, the highest official windspeed on land ever recorded is 231 MPH on the top of Mount Washington in New Hampshire back in 1934. So imagine something like that passing over you for about a half-hour. That's Super Typhoon Haiyan.

This is now two "super" storms in two years (Sandy being the other one). Which isn't that surprising. The Fifth Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change pointed out that climate change can contribute to the formation of these kinds of storms. As the oceans store more and more heat, the overall temperature will rise. Which will provide more energy to these storms. And will enable them to grow stronger and stay intact for longer periods of time.

And this will likely go along with other great things like water scarcity, crop reductions and increased land temperatures that will make large areas of land increasingly uninhabitable. Good times!

Whether this will happen is becoming more and more of an academic question. The real issue is to what degree will these changes occur. But the superstorms look like they are here to stay.


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