Monday, 29 October 2012

Hurricane Sandy and the new normal

As hurricane Sandy leaves a battered Haiti behind and hits the East Coast of the US, where it may collide with a winter storm and a cold front, New York, New Jersey and Maryland brace for the impact. 

Hurricane Sandy, image captured by NOAA's GOES-13 sattelite
According to an article published in the Guardian,Professor Mark Saunders from University College London believes that there are some unusual aspects to the storm. 

  • Apparently all historic storms in records going back to 1851, located well offshore at this latitude have followed the jetstream and turned North and East whereas Sandy turned northwest to strike the mid-atlantic US. 
  • Sandy's relative strength, with it's central pressure forecast to be 945-950mb, it is close to the pressure 955mb record for a hurricane in this region
I do wonder if with likely weakening of the jetstream due to loss of arctic summer sea ice will play a part in the direction of future storms. 

With the drought and flooding this year, with the extreme weather last year, I feel that we are entering the "new normal"  and that this is how things will be from here on.
  I am not saying that every year will be like this at the moment but that the frequency of these extereme weather events will increase as climate change bites and that their severity will be something which we and our children will have to adapt to, with their impacts on our food supply and our infrastructure. 


  1. You are quite right Chris. I was discussing hurricanes with Audrey who was brought up on St. Kitts and asked her how often they reached the eastern side of the USA when she was young. She said never because they never got there, would run out of steam before hand. It would be good if the governments of this world stood up and paid attention. But we know they wont. In the meanwhile, what do we do. Prepare for the coming melt down and keep hope going!

  2. Hey Baya
    Thanks for the comment.

    I think the thing is that even though Sandy is not directly attributable to climate change and hybrid storms happen, with warmer ocean temperatures and with more moisture in the atmosphere, due to climate change, as well as sea level rise, then these factors affect the size and severity of the weather event. With the future weakening of the jet stream then it is also likely that this will have a powerful effect on the weather.
    I agree that our politicians really seem to be failing in adaptation and that it we must just get on and do what we can ourselves.