Gallery D

That Weather Change

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Extreme Weather May Be The New Normal

By James Donahue

During my years working as a bureau reporter in Michigan, we experienced a severe storm that dumped 24 inches of rain on our area in about a week. It was a disaster for the rural farming area. Fields of crops were under water. Roads were flooded, bridges were washed out, streams overflowed their banks and basements were flooded.

The stream about a half mile from our home was so flooded that the water came within a few hundred feet of our house. My basement sump pump was working overtime, but the home escaped any damage. But we worried for a few days because it appeared that the rains were not going to stop.

For weeks after that area farmers were using bulldozers to pull harvesting equipment through their muddy fields, attempting to rescue as much of the season’s corn, bean and sugar beet crop as possible.
I received some kind of journalistic award for my work, covering the disaster. It was no big deal for me. I couldn’t write about anything else that week. The rains and the flooding was the big story.

They said that was what the weather people call a “100-year” flood, and was so rare we probably would not experience anything like it again in our lifetime.
But lo, storms like that and worse are so common now that very few people are escaping them. When the storms come they are dumping two to four inches of rain every hour. Long Island was deluged when a single storm recently dumped over 13 inches of rain. The City of Phoenix, Arizona, was just left flooded by a similar “monsoon” storm that inundated that desert community. Detroit and surrounding Southern Michigan cities were left flooded by two separate storms that swept that part of the state one week apart.

Many of these storms are accompanied by extreme lightning; high winds and even tornadoes in places where tornadoes have always been so rare people didn’t think much about them.

Meteorologists are introducing us to new words to describe some of these extreme storms. The name “derecho” now describes a damaging straight-line wind of 70-miles-per hour or higher and “training” is a term used to describe a series of severe storms that follow one another like cars on a train. “Polar Vortex” is a new term used to describe extreme arctic cold fronts sweeping down from the polar regions and keeping much of the northern hemisphere cooler than normal. And “El Nino” is a description of the warming temperature of the Pacific Ocean, which has an impact on world weather conditions.

While the meteorologists and nightly news anchors have been careful to avoid alarming the public about the extreme weather changes, they can no longer avoid telling us about the storms. Most of them are still trying to explain why the storms are occurring, as if the events are only a temporary phenomenon and that we can expect things to get back to normal perhaps next year.
But don’t count on it.

The very thing former Vice President Al Gore warned us about in his film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” is happening before our eyes. Gore took a lot of heat for daring to sound such a warning, but now we know he was right. Global warming and climate change are upon us. And if we don’t stop depending on carbon fuels for our daily way of life, we may soon lose our daily way of life.
Our homes, crops and even our roads to work are being destroyed by wind, fire, water and hail. And the prognosis is that the worst is yet to come. Some scientists, in an effort to stem the possibility of panic, have suggested that the changes are still 30 to 50 years away, and that we still have time to do something about it.

But think of this. This year for the first time, people are able to take special boat trips through the Northwest Passage around northern Canada and Alaska, and open pools of water have been spotted at or near the North Pole. The ice caps are in meltdown. The sea levels are rising. Cities along the coast are soon about to be inundated with sea water.

Food will be in such short supply that only the rich will be able to afford it.
If you think insanity is getting too visible in the streets now, just wait until the grocery stores go empty. There is good reason why the local police units have begun donning military gear and are riding around in armored vehicles. 

A Mad Max scenario looms. And it doesn't have to happen. We could still do something about it. But we probably won't.