Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Second 'Thousand-Year' Storm In Two Years

Try telling the people of Ellicott City, Maryland, that climate change is a hoax.

The Washington Post, in a detailed analysis of this flood, has this to say about the role climate change played:
Climate change did not “cause” this thunderstorm complex.

However, climate change has probably altered the larger environment in which these small thunderstorms are embedded. Notably, the water vapor content of the atmosphere, as a whole, has increased and scientific studies have shown a statistically meaningful uptick in the frequency of extreme rain events over the eastern United States. Statistically, over the long term, these types of extreme floods are probably becoming more common, in areas that are normally rainy as a result of global warming.
Emerging patterns are undeniable, revealing climate-change deniers for the antediluvian fools they truly are.


  1. One aspect of these disasters that I've kept an eye on for some time is the resilience of those affected. Do they have the will to stay, to rebuild, to await what is probably coming next? Do you stay and take your chances or do you cut your losses, take whatever you can get even if that's next to nothing, and hope to build a new life somewhere more secure or better situated to meet the challenges to come?

    Farmers and ranchers have to weigh their future in the face of both sustained and cyclical droughts. Even urban dwellers in the post-war cities of America's southwest are going to have to deal with severe heat and freshwater insecurity.

    We see these quaint little towns in Britain that now are seasonally flooded with regularity. Those beautiful houses and shops, some centuries old, were not built to withstand those conditions. For now their owners are repairing them as the flood waters recede but for how long will those structures be repairable?

    In Nantucket, stately clifftop mansions built by sea captains from a time long past are now at the cliff edge or worse as rising seas erode the land beneath them. In California, homeowners in small waterfront towns like Del Mar seemingly expect their local governments to either hold back the sea or else buy them out at the peak values their homes might have fetched before sea level rise collapsed the real estate market.

    The US Naval Academy, Annapolis, routinely floods and may have to be taken apart and relocated to higher ground. America's main naval base, Norfolk, is in serious danger from rising waters. Sea level rise in Asia threatens even mega-cities such as Shanghai.

    Whether it's at the homeowner or municipal level the economics are inescapable. How much can you afford to lose how many times? Insurers and their actuaries are busy running the numbers. In the US, state and federal officials are finally facing up to a fiscal monster.

    What we're seeing now on the evening news are just "early onset" impacts. They tend to be localized and immediate in nature. They're intermittent, confined. What happens when "once a century" becomes twice a decade and then every other year? Where's the resilience when there is no money to make good those recurrent losses?

    Too little freshwater, too much saltwater. Seawater is a real problem. You can't drink it. That'll kill you. Saltwater inundation is a nightmare. If it gets inside your house, i.e. the Jersey Shore, it attacks your electrical system (wires and switches), your appliances and your walls. Restoration now requires gutting the house, right down to the framing. Then it has to be rinsed three times with fresh water to flush out the salt (you hope). Then it must be thoroughly dried out before you can call in the electricians, carpenters, drywallers and painters to do it over once again. Yet many local governments don't want to collapse property values and lose tourism revenues and so they keep repeating the untenable and unworkable. One administration winds up handing an even worse situation to its successor.

    Eventually saltwater inundation will take down coastal freshwater and sanitary sewer systems and then it's pretty much time to evacuate.

    1. Far too many seem to think the answer is to label these events as 'freak storm,' Mound. Until that changes, insanity (doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results) will likely prevail.