With Hurricane Sandy dominating the news, our favorite village idiot, Al Gore, is attempting to exploit the natural disaster as another sign of global warming. Even the Obama campaign is trying to use it against Romney. But the truth is that Hurricane Sandy is not unexpected. Joe Bastradi, chief forecaster for weatherbell.com, began sounding warnings last week. His take on Sandy is that the storm is following a definite pattern of weather cycles similar to those seen from the mid 1930s through 1950s. He warns that next year may even be worse for America′s northeastern coastline as we enter a period of large storms from Africa which could wreak havoc for the next 5 to 10 years.
Back in early August, Bastradi began sounding the trumpet in an op-ed published in USA Today. He argued that global warming is not occurring, that temperatures have been stable for the past 12 years. While CO2 has increased about 7% during this period, the overall amount of CO2 in Earth′s atmosphere is only 0.0395%.
What has been driving our current weather patterns is a normal cycle of ocean temperature changes. Right now, the Pacific Ocean is cooling while the Atlantic remains warm. This situation is now opening the door for more storm systems to be formed over Africa before beginning their westward trek across the Atlantic. The last several years have seen mainly tropical storms that form mid-ocean. Sandy, for example, got its start over Venezuela and quickly grew to a Category 3 hurricane before hitting Cuba and Haiti. By the time it sliced through the Caribbean, Sandy was still massive, about 500 miles wide, but had been downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane.
Bastradi thinks the big mistake was that hurricane warnings were not issued soon enough. The unusual combining of Sandy with two other weather systems caused it to become a super-storm about 1,000 miles wide. Other late season storms in the past, several in the 1950s, followed a similar track as Sandy did. The Great Storm of 1938 hit the U.S. coastline a bit further north near Boston, packing wind speeds of more than 180 MPH. There were several late season storms, including one in 1992 which made landfall on New Years Day in Scotland and Norway of all places with sustained winds of over 90 MPH and gusts in excess of 130 MPH.
So once again, Al Gore is all wet with his talk of Hurricane Sandy being a sign of global warming. The real lesson here, according to Joe Bastradi of weatherbell.com, is that we are facing a period of potentially larger, more powerful storms due to a normal cycle in weather patterns. This raises the question of preparedness and wisdom of building on barrier islands.