Category 4 Giovanna battering Madagascar

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:45 PM GMT on February 13, 2012

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Earth's most dangerous storm of 2012 is Tropical Cyclone Giovanna, which is bearing down on Madagascar as a powerful Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds. Giovanna is predicted to hit a heavily populated portion of the east coast of the island near 22 GMT tonight as a Category 3 storm, then move inland, passing near the capital of Antananarivo as a Category 1 storm on Tuesday morning. The outer spiral bands of the storm have already moved over the island, bringing heavy rains and gusty winds.


Figure 1. Visible image from NASA's Terra satellite of Tropical Cyclone Giovanna approaching Madagascar, taken at 6:35 UTC Monday February 13, 2012. At the time, Giovanna was a Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.


Figure 2. Webcam view of the skies over the Andila Beach Hotel in northwest Madagascar, taken at 6:15pm local time on Monday February 13, 2012. Image credit: Andilana Beach Hotel.

The forecast: not good
Recent microwave satellite imagery (Figure 3) shows that Giovanna has concentric eyewalls, and it likely that the inner eyewall will collapse today as the storm undergoes an eyewall replacement cycle. This process should gradually weaken the storm, and I expect Giovanna will weaken slightly to a still very dangerous Category 3 storm with 125 - 130 mph winds at landfall. However, the eyewall replacement cycle will spread out the storm's hurricane-force winds over a larger area, increasing the storm surge. A 70-mile long swath of the coast that is heavily populated will receive sustained hurricane-force winds tonight. Rainfall amounts in excess of eight inches in a 24-hour period are expected along the center of Giovanna's path. These rains will cause extensive flooding and major damage to the country, and the storm is likely to be one of the top three most expensive disasters in Malagasy history. The damage potential is higher than for previous storms of similar intensity, due to the considerable deforestation Madagascar has experienced over the past 30 years. Madagascar lost 8.3% of its forest cover between 1990 and 2010 and is now just 22% forested, according to mongabay.com. Flood waters run off quicker from deforested land, reach higher heights, and cause greater damage.


Figure 3. Microwave satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Giovanna taken at 12:30 UTC (7:30 am EST) Monday, February 13, 2012. The echo-free eye is surrounded by two concentric eyewalls, the sign of a storm undergoing an eyewall replacement cycle. Image credit: Navy Research Lab, Monterrey.

Madagascar's tropical cyclone history
The strongest and deadliest tropical cyclone ever recorded in Madagascar was Tropical Cyclone Gafilo, which hit the northern end of the island on March 7, 2004, as a Category 5 storm with 160 mph winds. Galfilo dumped up to 20 inches of rain on the island, and its winds and flooding rains killed 363 people and did $250 million in damage, making it the deadliest and second most expensive storm in Madagascar's history. Gafilo's central pressure of 895 mb made it the second strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere, behind the 890 mb central pressure of Tropical Cyclone Zoe of December 2002, which affected Fiji and the Solomon Islands. With a central pressure of 937 mb, Giovanna is a much less intense storm than Gafilo was.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
...and now for our daily view of the Puerto Rican radar site showing rainfall...

:P
It hasn't stopped raining since 4:30. 4.8" so far. All of this falling into a river that passes through my town. Tomorrow's morning commute isn't going to be pretty.
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

Serious question: Is it ever not raining in Puerto Rico?
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I wonder if we'll see an El Nino anytime soon. I don't think so.
better chance we get el nino than la nina ocean is warming up although i think the 2012 season will be neutral in my opinion
Member Since: August 23, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1288
Quoting nigel20:
what do you think about the 2004 hurricane season...why was it so active during an el nino?

Post #281.

"A new paper published in Science last Friday attempts to explain why some El Nio years see high Atlantic hurricane activity. "Impact of Shifting Patterns of Pacific Ocean Warming on North Atlantic Tropical Cyclones", by Georgia Tech researchers Hye-Mi Kim, Peter Webster, and Judith Curry, theorizes that Atlantic hurricane activity is sensitive to exactly where in the Pacific Ocean El Nio warming occurs. If the warming occurs primarily in the Eastern Pacific, near the coast of South America, the resulting atmospheric circulation pattern creates very high wind shear over the tropical Atlantic, resulting in fewer hurricanes. This pattern, called the Eastern Pacific Warming (EPW) pattern, occurred most recently during the El Nio years of 1997, 1987, and 1982 (Figure 1). In contrast, more warming occurred in the Central Pacific during the El Nio years of 2004, 2002, 1994, and 1991. The scientists showed that these Central Pacific Warming (CPW) years had lower wind shear over the Atlantic, and thus featured higher hurricane activity than is typical for an El Nio year. One of the paper's authors, Professor Peter J. Webster, said the variant Central Pacific Warming (CPW) El Nio pattern was discovered in the 1980s by Japanese and Korean researchers, who dubbed it modiki El Nio. Modiki is the Japanese word for "similar, but different"."

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31417
Quoting nigel20:
2004 was a very strange huricane, infact 2004 was an hyperactive huricane season...which is rather strange for an el nino year.

Also interesting to note that 2004 had several strong Cape Verde hurricanes that hit the US rather than recurve (Frances, Ivan, Jeanne) Very destructive year, especialy considering it was el nino
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Yeah, we are headed towards El Niño right now, but all of the models show this gradually leveling off by August/September/October. In fact, after ASO, many models start taking us back down to La Niña.
what do you think about the 2004 hurricane season...why was it so active during an el nino?
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...and now for our daily view of the Puerto Rican radar site showing rainfall...
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31417
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Quoting nigel20:
2004 was a very strange huricane, infact 2004 was an hyperactive huricane season...which is rather strange for an el nino year.

It was a Modiki El Niño year.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31417
Quoting CybrTeddy:
ENSO patterns for the last 10 years.

2011 - La Nina.
2010 - La Nina.
2009 - El Nino.
2008 - Neutral.
2007 - La Nina.
2006 - El Nino
2005 - Neutral
2004 - El Nino
2003 - La Nina.
2002 - El Nino.

Anyone else see a semi-pattern?

One would assume that 2012 would be a El Nino by that pattern.
2004 was a very strange huricane, infact 2004 was an hyperactive huricane season...which is rather strange for an el nino year.
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Miami NWS Discussion

PRECIPITABLE WATERS FINALLY RISE BACK ABOVE 1 INCH BY WEDNESDAY
NIGHT ON A SOUTHEAST FLOW. BY EARLY THURSDAY, A STRONGER
SHORTWAVE AND ASSOCIATED COLD FRONT WILL HAVE ADVANCED INTO THE
WESTERN FLORIDA PANHANDLE. THE GFS AND ECMWF CONTINUE TO COME
INTO BETTER AGREEMENT WITH THESE FEATURES AND SHOW WAVES OF LOW
PRESSURE DEVELOPING ALONG THE FRONT IN THE GULF OF MEXICO AND
PUSHING EAST NORTHEAST. THE PROGRESSION OF THE FRONT SHOULD TEND
TO SLOW AS IT BECOMES PARALLEL TO THE UPPER LEVEL FLOW. SO WHILE
THE BULK OF THE RICHEST MOISTURE MAY REMAIN TO OUR NORTH, AT
LEAST THROUGH SATURDAY, SLIGHT CHANCE POPS ARE CERTAINLY
WARRANTED FOR THE LOCAL AREA THIS WEEKEND. THE FRONT ITSELF MAY
NOT CLEAR SOUTH FLORIDA UNTIL LATE SUNDAY OR EARLY MONDAY.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Yeah, we are headed towards El Nio right now, but all of the models show this gradually leveling off by August/September/October. In fact, after ASO, many models start taking us back down to La Nia.
Hopefully.Phew.Don't wanna have another 09 here in the Atlantic.EDIT.I remember 97 was even more boring.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
.
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


CPC weekly update released today has a little warmer Nino 3.4 area at -1.0C, up from -1.2C of last week's update.

Link

Yeah, we are headed towards El Niño right now, but all of the models show this gradually leveling off by August/September/October. In fact, after ASO, many models start taking us back down to La Niña.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31417
Quoting yqt1001:


Not a boring season..

If you guys actually cared about any basin other than the Atl. :(

Memorable storms from 2009:

Rick - second strongest EPac storm on record.



Nida - strongest November storm that I know of.



Melor - still stronger than any storm in 2011.



That is every storm in 2009 that had an intensity higher than 140kts.
Back in 2009 I did track storms in other basins.I was mainly referring to the atlantic.For some storms I was missing information.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
Quoting washingtonian115:
Well I hope it's a weak El nino because I want some storms to track.Not like 09 all over again.Ahhhhh the painful memories!!!.Such a boring season.


Not a boring season..

If you guys actually cared about any basin other than the Atl. :(

Memorable storms from 2009:

Rick - second strongest EPac storm on record.



Nida - strongest November storm that I know of.



Melor - still stronger than any storm in 2011.



That is every storm in 2009 that had an intensity higher than 140kts. 2010 had Megi exceed 140kts, while 2011 had no storms exceed 140kts.
Member Since: November 19, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 1285
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I wonder if we'll see an El Nino anytime soon. I don't think so.


CPC weekly update released today has a little warmer Nino 3.4 area at -1.0C, up from -1.2C of last week's update.

Link
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I wonder if we'll see an El Nino anytime soon. I don't think so.
I just hope not.A weak El nino if anything.But you can tell the pattern is changing.Storms aretaking a more southerly track.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
Quoting CybrTeddy:
ENSO patterns for the last 10 years.

2011 - La Nina.
2010 - La Nina.
2009 - El Nino.
2008 - Neutral.
2007 - La Nina.
2006 - El Nino
2005 - Neutral
2004 - El Nino
2003 - La Nina.
2002 - El Nino.

Anyone else see a semi-pattern?

One would assume that 2012 would be a El Nino by that pattern.

I wonder if we'll see an El Nino anytime soon. I don't think so.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31417
Quoting CybrTeddy:
ENSO patterns for the last 10 years.

2011 - La Nina.
2010 - La Nina.
2009 - El Nino.
2008 - Neutral.
2007 - La Nina.
2006 - El Nino
2005 - Neutral
2004 - El Nino
2003 - La Nina.
2002 - El Nino.

Anyone else see a semi-pattern?

One would assume that 2012 would be a El Nino by that pattern.
Well I hope it's a weak El nino because I want some storms to track.Not like 09 all over again.Ahhhhh the painful memories!!!.Such a boring season.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
ENSO patterns for the last 10 years.

2011 - La Nina.
2010 - La Nina.
2009 - El Nino.
2008 - Neutral.
2007 - La Nina.
2006 - El Nino
2005 - Neutral
2004 - El Nino
2003 - La Nina.
2002 - El Nino.

Anyone else see a semi-pattern?

One would assume that 2012 would be a El Nino by that pattern.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Just use this official one and there will be no confusion.



Nice link...

But now you see the truth, which is that most of the years in fact were el nino anyway.

Addditionally, when you break it down that way, you see it's stupid and pointless to make a "storms don't happen in el nino years" rule, because half the years are BOTH because they flip-flopped.

If you average 1998's deviations it was actually still 0.1 positive average for the year, even though it shows more months as negative.

Link


hey everyone look at that.


It's a bit more complicated than this "year" was el nino or la nina, which is why the wiki graphic is a bit different.


Additionally, you STILL made my point, because:

1966
1969
1983
1992


were el ninos on that graphic too.

1998 changed, but the annual average was still positive, which might explain why it's red on the wiki graphic.


But that's a good reference, and I'll agree it's better than the wiki chart I had found right away...


But it still makes my own argument about strong storms even more valid, because it shows that there's more to it than just "was or was not an el nino".

1998 qualifies as both an strong el nino and a strong la nina, by those standards, depends on which season you look at.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
You know I knew Matt Lauer got a good check in the mail every week.But he get's paid 17 million just to talk...That's the amount of money that would take me twenty years to make.Some people of life time.I wonder how much Brain get's paid...
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Did not know there was one and were is it supposed to happen?
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:



ME, ME, ME!
Yes according to the models their is suppose to a snow storm on Monay.You know what I find ironic is that during the same date the snow storm is suppose to happen we had a ice storm with snow on the ground.Had to come in the offic two hours late.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
According to this:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1992_Atlantic_hurric ane_season


1992 was an STRONG el nino year, agreeing with the chart and me, which it says in the third sentence of the first paragraph.


which totally opposite of your link, which claims it was neutral.


Hey, maybe all the sites are wrong then, eh?

Either way, if you then use 1992 as a reference and count left or right, all the years I gave are el ninos on the chart...
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting RTSplayer:



So you're saying the chart in wikipedia is completely backwards?

the temperature spike on 1998 on the chart makes sense because 1998 was at that time the hottest year on record, and still is one of the top 5, and you can count left and right on each of them to find the other ones.




The high temperature spike is 1998, because 1998 was the hottest year on record.

If 1998 is supposed to be la nina, then it should be blue.

And if ou lost track of the years, you can just count up or down from 1998, which is easily the hottest year up to that time.


Either way, one of these products is completely wrong...on EVERY freaking year...

Additionally, the far right bar is 2011, which is la nina like it should be, and if you count backwards, 1998 is indeed the tall red bar.

Just use this official one and there will be no confusion.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31417
Quoting Xyrus2000

Newer designs make meltdown pretty much impossible. If we can utilize thorium then meltdowns become physically impossible.

Yes, new designs probably eliminate meltdowns due to loss of grid/backup generator power. But they do not solve the problem of leaks nor fix the problem of hazardous waste.

They also do not solve the problems of cost and time to implement.

We could reprocess spent fuel but that adds to the cost.

While I agree, this relies on a) No one throwing up idiotic political roadblocks, b) the storage technology will exist, and c) assuming that there will be enough fossil fuels to satisfy world demand without significantly increasing energy prices between then and now. This is also ignoring what impacts there could be from continued use of fossil fuels at an increasing rate for the next decades/centuries it will take to make a full transition.

Political roadblocks to renewables are falling right and left. Multiple attempts to create wind-damaging legislation in conservative states have failed. Republican governors are backing wind farms.

It's become clear that renewables turn a profit and create both jobs and tax revenues.

We have storage technology right now. Pump up works great and utility scale battery storage is beginning to be installed. As battery prices fall we'll see lots more battery storage coming on line.

And we're not looking at lots of decades, certainly not centuries for a full transition. It's something that could be done in 20-30 years. We can move from coal to renewables much faster than we can replace coal with nuclear.

With a combination of wind, solar, natural gas and increased efficiency we could get all our coal plants shut down in a couple of decades.

We can do it with natural gas, but wind and solar won't help all that much until we have the grid in place that can handle it. Sure, if you're just looking at MW numbers then it's possible, but transitioning takes a lot more than just producing the power. That's the easy part.

I don't think you realize how usable wind and solar are. We're already seeing them cut into fossil fuel usage. And both wind and solar are beginning to make grid power cheaper. Nuclear raises the cost of electricity.

It's sort of like electric cars. It would be far more efficient to have everyone drive electric cars and burn the fuel in a powerplant. But even assuming you had the battery tech for long drives and quick recharges, our grid would burst into flames if we tried to do this.


Well, there's no need to burn fuel in power plants to charge EVs. Renewables are perfect for EVs. Cars spend about 90% of their time parked which means that they are excellent for absorbing peak renewable input power. That creates more profit for wind and solar which, in turn, generates more installation.

As well, our grid is quite ready for EVs. A couple of studies have found that were our existing vehicles turned into EVs overnight the grid could easily charge 85% of all those vehicles.

Range, we have a couple of solutions even if battery capacity does not increase over the next few years.

First, there are PHEVs like the Chevy Volt that let most people do the vast majority of their driving with electricity but have the ability to run on liquid fuels when larger range is needed.

Second, we've got the technology to do very rapid battery exchanges. You can drive into one of Better Place's battery exchange stations and drive out with a charged battery faster than you can pump your tank full of gas.

But it's unlikely we'll need those approaches. Batteries almost certainly will increase to give us roughly double the current range of the Nissan Leaf, which is all that is needed. Once ranges reach ~175 miles and we have an adequate number of Level 3 charge stations along our highways one will be able to drive 500 miles with only a couple of short breaks.


Member Since: February 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1344
1998 was la nina from june to december el nino existed fron january of 98 to june
Member Since: August 23, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1288
Quoting washingtonian115:
So anyone wanna talk about that possible snow storm on Sunday...
Did not know there was one and were is it supposed to happen?
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If you guys did not already know there was a 5.6 and a 4.3 in CA today. Earthquake activity on the increase?
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Quoting washingtonian115:
So anyone wanna talk about that possible snow storm on Sunday...



ME, ME, ME!
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6059
So anyone wanna talk about that possible snow storm on Sunday...
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
Quoting yqt1001:


I'd go by this list.

There is no way that 2010 and 1995 were not La Nina. Those 2 years tie 2011 for record storms in the Atlantic...not something an El-Nino can pull (often enough for it to happen 3 times in 2 decades).



So you're saying the chart in wikipedia is completely backwards?

the temperature spike on 1998 on the chart makes sense because 1998 was at that time the hottest year on record, and still is one of the top 5, and you can count left and right on each of them to find the other ones.




The high temperature spike is 1998, because 1998 was the hottest year on record.

If 1998 is supposed to be la nina, then it should be blue.

And if ou lost track of the years, you can just count up or down from 1998, which is easily the hottest year up to that time.


Either way, one of these products is completely wrong...on EVERY freaking year...

Additionally, the far right bar is 2011, which is la nina like it should be, and if you count backwards, 1998 is indeed the tall red bar.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
That I remember 1998 was not el Niño 1997 was EL Niño
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I just finished a short blog on all the activity in the Southern Hemisphere. I'd love a little constructive feedback since I'm still very new at this. Thanks!
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Quoting WxGeekVA:


Don't get your hopes up, it's for Leesburg and places west that might see an inch from it....
Well seeing some fall wouldn't be that bad.It's cold enough.When it's cold and nothing is happening it's almost pointless...
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
Quoting yqt1001:


I'd go by this list.

There is no way that 2010 and 1995 were not La Nina. Those 2 years tie 2011 for record storms in the Atlantic...not something an El-Nino can pull (often enough for it to happen 3 times in 2 decades).

Both years transitioned to La Nina in JJA/JAS (June, July, August/July, August, September).
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31417
Quoting washingtonian115:
The sites not working for me for some odd reason.


Don't get your hopes up, it's for Leesburg and places west that might see an inch from it....
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3468
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


That shows exactly what he said... 3 in the last decade.


In the wrong years...lol...

Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting RTSplayer:


Then what is this?




This shows:

2010
2003
1998
1995
1992
1983
1969
1966
1958


Is the encyclopedia wrong?


That shows exactly what he said... 3 in the last decade.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6059
This page shows all official El Nino, Neutral, and La Nina years
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Quoting Ameister12:

NWS in Washington/Baltimore
You might get some.
The sites not working for me for some odd reason.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
Quoting RTSplayer:


Then what is this?




This shows:

2010
2003
1998
1995
1992
1983
1969
1966
1958


Is the encyclopedia wrong?


I'd go by this list.

There is no way that 2010 and 1995 were not La Nina. Those 2 years tie 2011 for record storms in the Atlantic...not something an El-Nino can pull (often enough for it to happen 3 times in 2 decades).
Member Since: November 19, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 1285
Quoting yqt1001:


2009, 2006 and 2004 were the only El Nino years in the last decade. 1995 was also a La Nina year.


Then what is this?




This shows:

2010
2003
1998
1995
1992
1983
1969
1966
1958


Is the encyclopedia wrong?
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
226. WxGeekVA "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow"

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Quoting Ameister12:

SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WILMINGTON OH
138 PM EST MON FEB 13 2012

...ACCUMULATING SNOW WILL SLOW THE MORNING COMMUTE...

LIGHT SNOW WILL DEVELOP LATE THIS EVENING THROUGH MIDNIGHT. THE
SNOW WILL INCREASE IN INTENSITY LATE TONIGHT WITH AN ACCUMULATION
OF 1 TO 2 INCHES EXPECTED BY SUNRISE. THE SNOW MAY RESULT IN SLICK
SPOTS ON ROADS LATE TONIGHT AND TUESDAY MORNING AND WILL IMPACT
THE MORNING COMMUTE.

IF YOU ARE PLANNING TRAVEL YOU SHOULD ALLOW EXTRA TIME TO REACH
YOUR INTENDED DESTINATION.



Yeah. Yeah, I AM jelly. :|
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2300Z

Enhanced Infrared (IR) Imagery (4 km Mercator)


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Quoting washingtonian115:
Does this include D.C??.If so what about me???

NWS in Washington/Baltimore
You might get some.
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Howdy, folks...snowing in central Missouri, about 4" down and the rest of the evening to go...
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Quoting BobWallace:
Add TMI, Davis-Bessie, and all the other "near misses" to the list.

It's pretty much impossible to build and operate nuclear reactors without human involvement.


I never said otherwise. But Chernobyl was caused by unimaginable stupidity. Fukishima was caused by desire for profits (Pay to upgrade plant, or keep it running another 10 years?).

Newer designs make meltdown pretty much impossible. If we can utilize thorium then meltdowns become physically impossible.

All energy/electricity generation involves humans but nuclear is unique in the level of danger it brings to the table. Not only the danger of catastrophic failure, but the danger of nuclear waste that will exist for centuries.


I disagree. First, we already have technology to greatly reduce the waste problem, but we have chosen not to use it. Second, the pollution produced by traditional power sources (such as coal) is causing far more harm than nuclear, even including nuclear accidents.

Wind, geothermal and hydro are already cheaper than new nuclear. Solar is about the same price and tidal should soon be cheaper. In the short run we can back up renewables with inexpensive natural gas and then replace NG with storage as those technologies mature.


While I agree, this relies on a) No one throwing up idiotic political roadblocks, b) the storage technology will exist, and c) assuming that there will be enough fossil fuels to satisfy world demand without significantly increasing energy prices between then and now. This is also ignoring what impacts there could be from continued use of fossil fuels at an increasing rate for the next decades/centuries it will take to make a full transition.

Why bother with nuclear when less dangerous and less expensive technology is at hand?


Because it isn't. Our infrastructure is not set up to handle renewables. Some areas can't really utilize renewables, or if they can you have to be a little careful about how they do it. I'm not saying it can't be done, but there are a lot of ancillary costs and considerations that need to be taken into account. That's why the reports on an all-green power setup typically say 2050 is about the earliest it would be feasible.

Just think about generation which has no fuel or significant "labor/security" input. We commonly calculate the cost of power based on a 20 year span. Solar panels produce power as cheaply as new nuclear for those 20 years and then will produce electricity for essentially zero cents per kWh for another 20, 30 or more years.


That's assuming you live in area that gets enough sun to make it worthwhile. You also have the sporadic nature of solar to deal with. With the current efficiencies of solar, it would take a lot of solar panels to offset a significant percentage of the current grid.

Wind is already considerably cheaper than nuclear and after the 20 year payoff period turbines should crank out almost free electricity for another 20 years.


Again, that's assuming your in an area that can take advantage of wind power. With climate change, these areas may even shift over time. There's also the sporadic nature of wind power as well.

We can, right now, replace coal with a combination of wind, solar and natural gas and slow climate change.


We can do it with natural gas, but wind and solar won't help all that much until we have the grid in place that can handle it. Sure, if you're just looking at MW numbers then it's possible, but transitioning takes a lot more than just producing the power. That's the easy part.

When one considers the health and environmental costs of burning coal and the avoided costs of more "100 year" events moving quickly to renewables would be a huge money saver. That route leaves those who follow us with established wind farms which will need turbine replacement every 40 or so years and solar arrays which will need panel replacement after 40 (100?) years.


If renewables were a simple drop in for our current production, then I'd agree. But it isn't that simple. It's sort of like electric cars. It would be far more efficient to have everyone drive electric cars and burn the fuel in a powerplant. But even assuming you had the battery tech for long drives and quick recharges, our grid would burst into flames if we tried to do this.

And no piles of radioactive waste.


The waste isn't the problem. The problem is we aren't reprocessing it back into fuel.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.