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home : letters : letters May 24, 2016

11/8/2012 10:37:00 AM

To the editor:

As Hurricane Sandy approached New York it was called a "Frankenstorm" because it was a merger of a storm in the Atlantic and a cold front from the west. Historically, storms coming up the coast out of the Caribbean hug the coast in the south, but head out to sea as they approach the mid-Atlantic states. This is because the trade winds in the southern states are east to west, pushing storms toward landfall. In the mid-Atlantic, there is usually a trade wind shift and the direction and they tend to flow west to east.

It was apparent that a shift of Sandy out to sea was not going to happen. There was a huge high pressure system parked over Greenland that was not going anywhere. The most likely cause of the stuck high pressure was the loss of arctic sea ice due to global warming. When the ice cover was normal, the large temperature differences between the arctic and the tropics caused a strong jet stream, which dislodges high pressure systems. However, the weak jet stream could not dislodge the high pressure, trapping Sandy, and it headed inland.

We all recall the pictures of this huge storm that was larger than 1,000 miles in diameter. The barometric pressure in its center was the lowest ever recorded on the east coast. Data indicates a massive increase in the frequency of severe storms that correlate with increasing man-made carbon pollution (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

Recent decades have also seen more than doubling of the frequency of abnormal wet or dry summers in the southeast. This is due to the increasing intensity of the "Bermuda High" that forms in the Atlantic each summer. A recent Duke University study links this increasing intensity to increased atmospheric carbon.

I wish that climate change were not happening, but to deny the data is to behave like the proverbial ostrich and stick your head in the sand and hope for no more Frankenstorms.


Merry Jo Velasquez

Cannon Falls Township

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