Showing posts tagged Climate Central

Extreme Weather 2011: By The Numbers (and Dollars)

Although it’s only August - with the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season still ahead, the United States has already tied its yearly record for billion dollar plus weather disasters. Check out some of these numbers, as reported by Reuters, via the National Weather Service:

$35 Billion: The total estimated damages from floods, tornadoes, heat waves, and drought that have occurred so far this year in the United States.

250: The approximate number of natural disasters that occurred in the US in 2010. This number was triple what is was only 20 years ago.

108: The number of weather-related disasters that have caused more than $1 billion in damage during the past 30 years.

9: The amount of natural disasters this year that have caused an economic loss of $1 billion or more.

$20 Billion: The total cost of thunderstorm losses for the first half of 2011. This cost is double the the three-year average of $10 billion for this point in time.

14-19: The total number of tropical storms and hurricanes that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has projected will occur in 2011. So far, only seven named storms have formed, none of which have been hurricanes. Tropical Storm Don was the only one to make landfall in the U.S.

Source: Reuters, National Weather Service

Check out Climate Central’s new wind energy widget showing just how much wind power potential each state has.

Some Key Highlights Include:

Texas alone could provide more electricity from wind power than the whole nation currently uses.

New Jersey could power 7 percent of total US energy use just by placing wind turbines offshore.

The Great Plains could replace corn with wind as it’s main energy export within the next 50 years. (Corn is currently used to produce corn ethanol, a form of biofuel.)

Rain, rain, come today… even if it’s in the form of a hurricane. Those are the prayers being heard throughout Texas, as residents seek heavy rainfall to ease the state’s drought nightmare. As illustrated in the NASA satellite image above, according to the U.S Drought Monitor94 percent of the range and pastureland in Texas was in poor or very poor condition in June 2011. 

The good news for Texans though is that beneficial rains may in fact be en route to the Lone Star State. Meteorologists are predicting that if tropical storm “Don” forms and follows a particular path across the Gulf of Mexico, it may make landfall in Texas within the next few days. According to the Washington Post Capital Weather Gang blog’s Greg Postel, this storm is not likely to turn into a powerful hurricane, thereby giving the state all the benefits of a massive rainstorm without a significant threat of widespread damage.

From the Front Lines of Climate: July 22, 2011

From Boston to Washington D.C., anyone along the East Coast who spent time outside last Friday can tell you one thing: it was mighty hot out. And the meteorologists have confirmed the heat was record breaking!

In Newark, New Jersey, the temperature hit 108°F setting an all time high for the largest city in the state. Records were broken elsewhere around the state, with Trenton hitting 105°F beating a record held since 1926. Atlantic City, with temperatures of 104°F, smashed the previous record of 98°F, which was set in 1998.

Elsewhere along the coast, New York City hit its second highest temperature of all time at 104°F. A little farther north, both Hartford and Bridgeport, Connecticut set record highs at 103°F. The heat also extended south, and at Washington D.C.’s Dulles International Airport temperatures hit an all-time record high temperature of 106°F.

We wanted to get creative with how to convey the crazy heat. So, instead of asking people to take pictures of themselves, either in their bikinis by the pool or sporting newly minted sunburns, we opted for a collection of car dashboard photos, submitted by some of our readers.

Credit (Top to Bottom):

          Antonia Hayward: Washington, DC

          Rolando Pujol: Sleepy Hollow, NY

          Alyson Kenward: Princeton, NJ

          Neil Davis: Syracuse, NY

For some people, last summer’s big Heat news centered around NBA star LeBron James “taking his talents” to Miami. This summer, the NBA is in a lockout, so let’s focus on a different kind of heat: that of the current heat wave, breaking records all across the Midwest and into the East Coast.  

Earlier this week, my colleague Andrew Freedman, writing for the Capital Weather Gang, pointed out that so far this month, more than 960 daily high temperature records have been tied or broken across the country. On top of that, there were 12 all-time highest temperature records set in Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma.

Already, the heat wave is posing a large public health threat, especially for children and the elderly. The scorching temperatures are linked to 22 deaths and this number is likely going to increase as temperatures remain blisteringly high through the rest of the week.

The heatwave also brings threat of blackouts, and electric utility Con Edison predicts that power usage in the New York area will hit an all time high as air conditioners get turned on in flurry to combat the sweltering temperatures. 

Even though the heat wave will hold a lot of Americans hostage indoors (clinging to their air conditioners to keep cool), above you’ll see a a wide range of photos from across the country illustrating how people — and man’s best friend — are beating the heat.

Photo Credits (From Left to Right, Top then Bottom): Eric Ward, Chris DipasqualeWalter PurvisLiliana Martinez, Kevin Fishel

Take a look at a preview of Al Gore’s “Climate Reality Project.” A short New York Times write-up about the project can be found here.

From the Front Lines of Climate: Mike Olbinski

This week’s featured person was literally on the front lines of an extreme weather event. Mike Olbinski from Phoenix, Arizona was able to take these stunning pictures of the massive dust storm, or “Haboob,” last week. His story is as follows:

"I was out doing a timelapse of the sunset in my backyard when I got a few texts from friends about the approaching storm. I looked to the southeast and could see it coming, so I grabbed my gear and drove to a nearby parking garage that I love to use sometimes for photography. I got everything ready and framed how I wanted it and started shooting a frame every five seconds.

"At that point I stood back and was just in awe of what I was seeing. I’m a native of 35+ years and I’d never seen a dust storm like this. I was recording it on my iPhone and wishing I had more cameras around! I knew I was seeing something amazing and if I captured it correctly, others would want to see too."

If you would like to learn more about the Haboob from last week, check out Climate Central’s Alyson Kenward’s article on how this dust storm and climate change are related, in the sense that the region’s drought enabled thunderstorms to kick up huge amounts of dust from the Phoenix area.