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2012 SkS News Bulletin #4: Hurricane Sandy & Climate Change

Posted on 14 November 2012 by John Hartz

This is the fourth installment of a a round-up of selected news articles and blog posts about Hurricane Sandy, its impacts on the Caribbean and North America, and its relationship to climate change. This bulletin supplements the SkS Weekly News Round-Up which is posted on Saturday of each week. 

Classification Brouhaha

Today, we’ve sent a letter to NOAA, the weather agency, as well as to the insurance companies that we’re looking over their shoulder. We want NOAA to keep this classified as a tropical storm and to save homeowners in New York and Long Island thousands of dollars, and we don’t want the insurance companies to play any games,” Schumer said in a radio interview.

Senator Urges NOAA Not To Change Sandy Classification by Andrew Freedman, Climate Central, Nov 13, 2012

Coastal Development

Given the size and power of the storm, much of the damage from the surge was inevitable. But perhaps not all. Some of the damage along low-lying coastal areas was the result of years of poor land-use decisions and the more immediate neglect of emergency preparations as Sandy gathered force, according to experts and a review of government data and independent studies.

Authorities in New York and New Jersey simply allowed heavy development of at-risk coastal areas to continue largely unabated in recent decades, even as the potential for a massive storm surge in the region became increasingly clear.

In the end, a pell-mell, decades-long rush to throw up housing and businesses along fragile and vulnerable coastlines trumped commonsense concerns about the wisdom of placing hundreds of thousands of closely huddled people in the path of potential cataclysms.

Hurricane Sandy Damage Amplified By Breakneck Development Of Coast by John Rudolf, Ben Hallman, Chris Kirkham, Saki Knafo and Matt Sledge, The Huffington Post, Nov 12, 2012 

Flood Insurance

Federal dollars and federal flood insurance should ensure that people who live in flood-prone areas don't rebuild in the same location. Of course, this can be done with compassion, assisting those currently insured in relocating away from floodplains. 

Sandy may be a "freak occurrence." But we should expect more freak occurrences. Weather is no longer typical. Choices are no longer easy.

Hurricane Sandy -- Not Over By a Long Shot by Carl Safina, The Huffington Post, Nov 10, 2012

View from Jamaica

"It is a wake-up call to everybody, to us here in Jamaica that we can now look forward to more systems coming from the south that can reach hurricane strength before they impact on the south coast," Mahlung said. "So while we are used to the systems coming from the east, these systems that originate south of us can move north across our area. It is something that we must now be aware of."

Sandy spotlights climate change by Petre Williams-Raynor, Jamaica Observer, Nov 11, 2012  

View from New Jersey

Which is why the global warming finger-pointing that usually begins after a natural disaster, preceded this one. But six weeks before Sandy was even a specter threatening the Caribbean, Rutgers scientist Jennifer Francis — not your normal climate change Cassandra — issued a warning during a teleconference call on global warming.

Experts argue global warming's impact on Sandy's unusual path to N.J. by Amy Ellis Nutt & Stephen Stirling, The Star-Ledger, Nov 12, 2012 

Addendum to OP

With about six weeks remaining in the year, there have already been 11 natural disasters that have cost $1 billion or more in damage, bringing 2012 to second place on the list of top billion-dollar disaster years. The current record-holder is 2011, when there were 14 billion-dollar disasters. The widespread and intense drought — which as of Nov. 6 still covered at least 60 percent of the lower 48 states — and Hurricane Sandy are expected to go down in history as two of the most costly weather-related disasters since 1980.

2012 May Rank As 2nd Most Disastrous Year Since 1980 by Andrew Freedman, Climate Central, Nov 12, 2012


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Comments 1 to 2:

  1. The media reports on Sandy talk about development on barrier islands, but none of them say why they are called barrier islands.
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    Moderator Response: [DB] Background info here.
  2. Interesting development about insurrance claims vs. classification. Big monies drive it, no doubt. And who should dig it to pay for the damages? Insurances, which will drive up the future re-insurance and premium rates, or the unlucky victims? Regaredeless of money, the storm deserves a classification of its own rather than simply hurricane, whatever it means for the claims is not important in the big picture emrging. The superstorm colliding with arctic cold front is something unprecedented in recent history. So the precedent requires new name. And still more like that is likely to come, as the warming continues.
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