Insight

Summer Weather--What's Ahead by Henry Willis

The tornadoes of May 2003 have come, but they are not gone. During the first two weeks of May there were almost 500 tornadoes. This is a record that will be broken year after year as Earths climate continues to warm. This brings on a question. If global warming can cause so many tornadoes, what kind of weather can be expected for the remainder of the summer

The answer lies in two contradictory words: floods and drought. First will be the flooding. In fact, sever flooding has already started in the upper Midwest of the U.S. Sever flooding will begin in the next three to six weeks. All the major river systems U.S. are under treat. One possible good thing about this treat of flooding is that it may not be as sever as in past years. The snowfall in the Rockie Mountains did not leave a great depth of snow. But that in of itself creates further problems.

Many communities depend upon the runoff from snowfall in the various mountain ranges in the U.S. for drinking water, irrigation, and production of hydroelectrical power production. For example, a two foot drop in the flow of the Colorado River results in a 35% reduction of hydroelectric power.

The availability of enough fresh water is becoming a serious problem in the U.S. This problem will be aggravated this summer by a drought that will last between 50 to 85 days, depending upon the area of the country. It goes without saying that such a drought will bring on another sever forest fire season, cause stress to agriculture, and put a significant strain on systems that produce potable water.

In the Fall there will be heavy rain storms, followed by more flooding, followed by early and sever snow storms. This cycle of storms, flooding, drought, storms comes from the fact that Earths global climate is warming. Heat drives the climate and the more heat there is the more active and sever climatic events will be.

Next to tornadoes, the most sever climatic event that occurs in the U.S. is a hurricane. In the eastern Pacific Ocean where I live, it is predicted there will be 6 hurricanes, with 2 becoming major storms. The Atlantic Seaboard of the U.S. will not be that fortunate. For that area, it is predicted there will be between 6 and 9 hurricanes, with 2 to 4 becoming major storms.

The advent of hurricanes is extremely difficult to predict. However, it is known that hurricanes require a minimum ocean temperature of 76° F. Global warming is increasing the surface temperature of all the oceans of the Earth. There is no clear evidence that this increase in ocean surface temperature will correlate to a sever hurricane season, but over the last 20 years weather experts have observed steady increase in the number of these storms.

Further, it should be pointed out that Tropical Storm Ana appeared six weeks before the usual beginning of the hurricane season for the Atlantic Ocean, and already there have been 5 major typhoons in the Far East. What is occurring as a result of global warming are climatic events that produce a lot of water followed by long periods of time when no water is produced at all. There are serious consequences that occur from this cycle.

Aquifers and rivers close to the ocean that product potable water will find that water polluted by salt water. Other systems inland will come under ecological stress as water is removed and waste disposal is added. What water managers need to do is find a way to retain the water that is produced during storms and floods for the period of drought that will follow.

Global warming is here to stay for the immediate future. We must pay attention to the changes in climatic events that result from that warming. So far we have not, and that denial places everyone at serious risk.

Henry Willis is the author of Earths Future Climate. He's a regular contributor and may be contacted at henrypwillis@yahoo.com.

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