Whipped-Up-Wind as Weather

May 23, 2011

As someone growing up in the US deep south, anytime there’s any mention of tornadoes gives me a deep, frightfully-shocked desire to run, run far away — even just reading about crazed funnel-clouds gives me heart ache.
And once again, according to CNN:

Residents in Joplin, Missouri, braced for news of fatalities Monday after a vicious tornado flattened buildings, tossed cars and hurled debris up to 70 miles away.
“I would say 75% of the town is virtually gone,” said Kathy Dennis of the American Red Cross.

(Illustration found here).

The AP is reporting at about 4 a.m. (PST) of at least 89 deaths in Joplin from the tornado, which cut a path nearly six miles long and more than a half-mile wide through the center of town.
And that total is expected to rise as the search begins in earnest in daylight.
The line of storms stretched across the Midwest, causing goodly damage in Minnesota, especially in areas around Minneapolis, where at least one person reported died, and sweeping through Wisconsin and on into Ohio.
And there’s some things that are mandatory in a tornado, and some that aren’t: Myth: Windows should be opened before a tornado approaches to equalize pressure and minimize damage.
FACT: Opening windows allows damaging winds to enter the structure. Leave the windows alone; instead, immediately go to a safe place.

Alabama, my birthplace and upbringing, suffered last month with 238 deaths and insured losses estimated at $2.45 billion to $4.2 billion during a horrible spade of tornadoes which tore across the deep south, killing another 108 people.
From USATODAY and Alabama’s woes:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has taken 70,120 applications for assistance in Alabama as of last week, said Rita Egan, a FEMA spokeswoman.
The agency has approved about $39 million, $28 million of it for temporary housing, she said.

“We aren’t prepared for this type of loss,” Bates (Jeff Bates, student services coordinator at Auburn Montgomery’s School of Business) said. “This will be the greatest rebuilding effort Alabama has seen since the Civil War. FEMA and insurance payouts will help, but most people that have insurance don’t have complete coverage.”

And the whole shebang is going to just get worse.
From Climate Progress earlier this month:

Multiple scientific studies find that indeed the weather has become more extreme, as expected, and that it is extremely likely that humans are a contributing cause (see “Two seminal Nature papers join growing body of evidence that human emissions fuel extreme weather, flooding that harm humans and the environment” and links therein).
Beyond that, as Dr. Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, explained here last year:
“There is a systematic influence on all of these weather events now-a-days because of the fact that there is this extra water vapor lurking around in the atmosphere than there used to be say 30 years ago.
It’s about a 4 percent extra amount, it invigorates the storms, it provides plenty of moisture for these storms.”
He told the NYT, “It’s not the right question to ask if this storm or that storm is due to global warming, or is it natural variability. Nowadays, there’s always an element of both.”

Beyond the horrible weather is the horrible GOP, which through their nefarious actions will/are making the situation far worse.
Not only are these assholes in  denial of climate change, even in their own states, and in their hell-bent desire to slash budgets, have cut the very agencies which are most-essential in combating horrors such as tornadoes.
Even trying to cut funding for weather satellites

Run for the bunkers!

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