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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

WHERE ARE THE MONSTER HURRICANES?

Republicans seem to be running into some bad luck.  First, Congressman Todd Akin and his inflammatory remarks further riling the female gender (hear him explain his "legitimate rape" remarks), and now, Isaac, barging in on their National Convention.  However, the last Category 3 hurricane to make landfall in the USA was nearly seven years ago.  2005 is the most active season on record, with 7 hurricanes, 3,913 deaths and damages of $159.2 billion.  That was the year of Katrina over New Orleans.

Some blamed global warming for the anomaly, as there is general acknowledgement that warmer oceans result in more and stronger hurricanes.  But others argue that we don't know enough.  Yet, Kerry Emanuel found a close correlation between hurricane intensity and surface ocean temperature:


But the past seven years have been among the warmest ever, so why aren't we being buffeted by killer cyclonic storms?

First, though, what is a hurricane?  Let me not get too technical with something like the Coriolis force, but these storms are cyclonic, turning counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern half.  To be called a hurricane, a wind speed of 74 miles per hour must be attained.  A hurricane is the same as a typhoon and a cyclone, although the Western Pacific uses typhoon and cyclone is applied in the vicinity of the Indian Ocean.  The severity of these ocean storms is ranked by category.

Katrina was a Category 5 storm and maxed at 175 MPH, but veered east of New Orleans only as a Category 3.  Rita and Wilma in 2005 were actually stronger Category 5 hurricanes.  

1992 was also another terrible year, but while there were only four hurricanes, Category 4 Iniki at 145 MPH devastated the island of Kauai, while Andrew (right) a few weeks earlier, struck Florida as a Category 5 at 175 MPH.  Iniki was suspected to have formed, of all the places, off the coast of West Africa, went west, crossed over Central America, and found her way to Hawaii.  The strongest cyclone in the Central Pacific, Hurricane Ioke in 2006, on the other hand, actually was created south of Hawaii, never got close to land, strengthened into a Category 5 at 155 MPH and took 19 days to reach Alaska.

One interesting fact is that a hurricane has never crossed the equator.  Again, this has to do with that natural phenomenon expressed by French scientist Gaspard-Gustave Coriolis.  Someday I see the equator serving as the line from which a wide variety of ocean products will be produced, for first, no one owns this space (except the United Nations and their Law of Sea will do what they can to subvert that current freedom), and second, ocean thermal energy conversion plantships (left from Lockheed Martin) will not have to worry about serious storms.

So, to answer the original question, yes, the Atlantic has been relatively calm, but the West Pacific is another matter.  Already this year, there have been nine typhoons:


Here is the sequence:


Typhoon Tembin is soon to strike Taiwan: 


and then, who knows what.  Typhoon Bolaven is aiming for Okinawa, then, anywhere from Shanghai to Cheju Island:


About Tropical Storm Isaac:


Yes, he seems to be headed at this time in the general direction of Tampa, with the Republican delegates and Isaac possibly running into each other on the first day of the Convention, August 27.  But, at worst, it will only be a Category 1, and, most probably, not even that.

Which circles back to Congressman Todd Akin and many of the views he truly believes which are in the mainstream of current Republican thinking, as reported by Maureen Dowd of the New York Times:

But, for all the Republican cant about how they want to keep government out of the lives of others, the ultraconservatives are panting to meddle into the lives of others.  Contrary to President Barack Obama's refreshing assertion Monday that a bunch of male politicians shouldn't be making health care decisions for women, this troglodyte tribe of men and Bachmann-esque women crave that responsibility.

best summarized by Paul Blumenthal:

What is very disturbing to me is that people like Mr. Akin who have postulated this secret mechanism for avoiding pregnancy have developed their own make believe world of science based on entirely self-serving beliefs of convenience or just ignorance, he said.  I don't think we want these people to be responsible for the lives of others.

Oh, it gets worse.  Just click on this blog by Jo Piazza.  Yet, Akin actually serves on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, and also renders judgement on crucial issues such as global warming, nuclear power and the wisdom of using coal for electricity.  

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