Damaging Katrina-level storm surges are twice as likely in warm years

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 5:22 PM GMT on November 26, 2012

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Perhaps the most stunning images in the wake of Hurricane Sandy were the sight of the roller coaster from the Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey lying in the Atlantic Ocean. The images reminded us that hurricane storm surges are capable of causing tremendous destruction along the coast, and one of the main concerns on how global warming might affect hurricanes is the potential for stronger hurricanes to create larger storm surges. We expect that global warming should make the strongest hurricanes stronger, since hurricanes are heat engines that take heat energy out of the ocean and converts it to wind energy. These stronger winds will be capable of piling up higher storm surges. However, it is controversial whether or not we have observed an increase in the strongest hurricanes, since hurricane winds are hard to observe. Our long-term hurricane data base is generally too low in quality and covers too short a period of time to make very good estimates of how climate change may be affecting hurricane winds. However, a new 2012 paper, "Homogeneous record of Atlantic hurricane surge threat since 1923" by Grinsted et al., looked at storm surge data from six tide gauges along the U.S. coast from Texas to New Jersey, and concluded that the number of moderately large hurricane and tropical storm surge events has increased since 1923. Moderately large storm surge events are on pace to nearly double by the year 2100, compared to 20th century levels. Moreover, 1-in-9 year to 1-in-30 year Katrina-level storm surge events are twice as likely to occur in warm years compared to cool years, and thus global warming may be able to dramatically increase the frequency of highly damaging extreme storm surge events. Since sea level is steadily rising due to global warming, these future storm surges will also be riding in on top of an elevated ocean surface, and will thus be able to do even greater damage than in the past. Expect to see many more shocking storm surge damage photos in the coming decades, unless we wise up, retreat from areas highly vulnerable to storm surge, and invest in increased shoreline protection measures.


Figure 1. The Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, N.J. taken during a search and rescue mission by 1-150 Assault Helicopter Battalion, New Jersey Army National Guard on Oct. 30, 2012. Image credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen.


Figure 2. Top: Observed long-term frequency of moderately large storm surge events from hurricanes and tropical storms measured at six tide gauges along the U.S. East Coast (inset map). The thick line is a 5-year moving average. These type of surge events occurred an average of 5.4 times/year between 1923 - 2008, and are on pace to increase to 9.5 events per year by 2100. Bottom: Departure of Earth's annual mean surface temperature from average, shaded to show warmer and colder than median temperatures. Large storm surge events increase in probability during warmer than average years. Image credit: Grinsted et al. 2012, "A homogeneous record of Atlantic hurricane surge threat since 1923."

Using storm surge to evaluate damage normalization studies
Damage from landfalling storms can be used to estimate if hurricanes are growing stronger with time, but damage estimates must first be corrected to account for changes in wealth and population over time. A 2008 study by Pielke et al. found that although hurricane damages had been doubling every ten years in recent decades, there were no increases in normalized hurricane damages in the U.S. from 1900 - 2005. They used census and economic data to adjust for how increases in populations and wealth may have affected hurricane damages over time. However, Grinsted et al. (2012) questioned whether or not this was done correctly. They found that storm surge heights of U.S. hurricanes and tropical storms correlated very well with metrics that looked at storm intensity, when looking at many decades of data to see long-term trends. However, the researchers found that while short-term trends in normalized hurricane damage estimated by Pielke et al. (2008) did correlate well historical storm surges, these normalized damages had poor correlation with the storm surge record, when looking at decades-long time scales. This implies that the corrections were biased. Dr. Stephan Lewandowsky of the University of Western Australia makes the case that efforts such as the one done by Pielke et al. (2008) to normalize disaster losses are probably biased too low, since they only look at factors that tend to increase disaster losses with time, but ignore factors that tend to decrease disaster losses. These ignored factors include improvements in building codes, better weather forecasts allowing more preparation time, and improved fire-fighting ability. He writes, "Most normalization research to date has not accounted for those variables because they are extremely difficult to quantify. (And most researchers have been at pains to point that out; e.g., Neumayer & Barthel, 2011, pp. 23-24.) In effect, normalization research to date largely rests on the oddly inconsistent pair of assumptions that (a) we have built up enormous wealth during the 20th century but (b) did so without any technological advance whatsoever." Grinsted et al. (2012) suggest that it may be possible to use their storm surge data to correct biased hurricane damage estimates, though. Take home message: studies showing no increase in normalized damage from storms have high uncertainty, and it is possible that higher economic damages due to stronger hurricanes are indeed occurring.

References
Grinsted, A., J. C. Moore, and S. Jevrejeva, 2012, "A homogeneous record of Atlantic hurricane surge threat since 1923," PNAS 2012, doi:10.1073/pnas.1209542109

Pielke et al., 2008, "Normalized Hurricane Damage in the United States: 1900–2005", Natural Hazards Review, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp. 29-42.

Links
In this remarkable home video, 15-year-old Christofer Sochacki captures the evening high tide on the day Superstorm Sandy struck Union Beach, New Jersey. The later part of the video shows how high waves on top of a 8-foot storm surge can lead to a punishing assault on beach-front structures.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting wxchaser97:

Lets see what I have seen, golfball size hail and 70mph winds, not like what happens in the south.


wimpy..
plus yall dont get real tornadic supercells.
with tennis ball sized hail and 80 mile per hour winds....I root for one to hit me every spring...and it doesnt haappen.
Always to my north, south or it dies in Alabama.
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Quoting wxchaser97:

You just don't see these kinds of events down south. The sky after a snow has that crisp clean feeling and it feels great. It should be a good winter and I am pretty excited.

Of course I am older than I was in the image as this was taken in the mid 2000's.

I'm hoping you're right... I like the snowstorms where afterwards everything looks clean and the sky is bright blue and clear... I'll have to see how it looks tomorrow morning :p
Member Since: February 13, 2012 Posts: 11 Comments: 3825
Quoting AussieStorm:


That will be Super Typhoon Nina. Nov 21-Dec 3.
Cat 5 SSHWS, 950mb


Thank you for posting it. It looks like Bopha will not take that track.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14598
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


3 times...that's like a whole winter for me.
That said there is nothing like a Giant severe wx producing supercell in the SE, not like those wimpy storms you guys get up north in June and July, I mean a real tornadoic 3inch hail and wedge tornado storm coming on a partly cloudy and super warm and humid day.
Too many of those storms just quit in Alabama before they get to me.

You just don't see these kinds of events down south. The sky after a snow has that crisp clean feeling and it feels great. It should be a good winter and I am pretty excited.

Of course I am older than I was in the image as this was taken in the mid 2000's.

Lol, posted an image of a working structure fire instead of me in the end of a snowstorm. Though I soon hope to have a picture of me and a fire as that is one of the two things I want to be.
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Quoting txjac:


Fall is the season to step back and look at nature in all of it's glory ...time where the leaves turn gorgeous color ...waking up to frost in the morning ...time to sit back and meditate

Of course none of this happens where I am at

However it is my favorite season



BORING!
Gorgeous colors = Raking
Waking up to frost = I'm gonna be cold wehn i go outside and its not snowing.
Meditation = I'm gonna run out of time to do something else

Snow and Tstorms = nature in all its glory
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Quoting AussieStorm:


That will be Super Typhoon Nina. Nov 21-Dec 3.
Cat 5 SSHWS, 950mb


Pretty sure you meant 905 mb.
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BOPHA looks more and more impressive as time goes by.

Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14598
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Does anyone know when was the last time a Typhoon was in the WPAC on late November? I sense that BOPHA will be at least a cat 3 at peak.


That will be Super Typhoon Nida. Nov 21-Dec 3.
Cat 5 SSHWS, 907mb
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Bopha is becoming more impressive with an established central dense overcast and its spiral bands. It is on its way to become a typhoon.

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Quoting KoritheMan:

I was going to, but ended up just sitting at home since he came to me.

But if it were up to me, I'd like to experience a hurricane in some form every year. It doesn't have to be in Louisiana, just the lower 48 so that I don't have to deal with any of the inherent hassles chasing in foreign countries brings.


I would like to chase a hurricane, but it would be hard to do that living 1000 miles away from the gulf.
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


3 times...that's like a whole winter for me.
That said there is nothing like a Giant severe wx producing supercell in the SE, not like those wimpy storms you guys get up north in June and July, I mean a real tornadoic 3inch hail and wedge tornado storm coming on a partly cloudy and super warm and humid day.
Too many of those storms just quit in Alabama before they get to me.

Lets see what I have seen, golfball size hail and 70mph winds, not like what happens in the south.
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:



Didn't you chase Isaac though? How much closer do you want a storm to get?
I was going to, but ended up just sitting at home since he came to me.

But if it were up to me, I'd like to experience a hurricane in some form every year. It doesn't have to be in Louisiana, just the lower 48 so that I don't have to deal with any of the inherent hassles chasing in foreign countries brings.
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266. yoboi
Quoting schistkicker:


Spell it out for me - what makes that analogy relevant to what the scientific data says, which is what I posted about?

As an aside, you might find it helps people understand your point of view if you posted something other than exclusively one-line rhetorical questions or not-clearly-apt analogies.



i just asked a simple question do you use the bucket or not....simple questions usually requires simple answers....
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2441
Quoting wxchaser97:

And then the border patrol or some other agency might still deny you to go to another country...

Late fall, the season we are in now, is the most boring time. Winter has winter storms, spring has the transition from winter to t-storms, summer has hot and sometimes stormy conditions, and fall is just fall.


Yah the problem is getting out, sure he'd have no problem getting back in... :D
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Does anyone know when was the last time a Typhoon was in the WPAC on late November? I sense that BOPHA will be at least a cat 3 at peak.


The last typhoon in November was Super Typhoon Nida of 2009.
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Does anyone know when was the last time a Typhoon was in the WPAC on late November? I sense that BOPHA will be at least a cat 3 at peak.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14598
262. txjac
Quoting CybrTeddy:
OT note: Vote the Mars Rover for person of the year! Why not?


Love the idea ...cant wait to see what all we learn
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261. txjac
Quoting wxchaser97:

And then the border patrol or some other agency might still deny you to go to another country...

Late fall, the season we are in now, is the most boring time. Winter has winter storms, spring has the transition from winter to t-storms, summer has hot and sometimes stormy conditions, and fall is just fall.


Fall is the season to step back and look at nature in all of it's glory ...time where the leaves turn gorgeous color ...waking up to frost in the morning ...time to sit back and meditate

Of course none of this happens where I am at

However it is my favorite season
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Quoting wxchaser97:

It is a money back guarantee that it will snow up here in SE MI. I get 100% of my money back if it, for some odd reason, doesn't snow all winter. I mean, it has already snowed 3 separate times... Yet I don't get severe weather in February and March, just heavy snows.


3 times...that's like a whole winter for me.
That said there is nothing like a Giant severe wx producing supercell in the SE, not like those wimpy storms you guys get up north in June and July, I mean a real tornadoic 3inch hail and wedge tornado storm coming on a partly cloudy and super warm and humid day.
Too many of those storms just quit in Alabama before they get to me.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


By "fall" I meant mid to late August through the middle of September. Aka the period when troughs start becoming frequent enough to curve storms into the CONUS.

Early summer hurricanes aren't as exciting because the high generally pushes them into Mexico, ala Ernesto. And while I could chase hurricanes outside the lower 48, I'd have to buy a passport.

And then the border patrol or some other agency might still deny you to go to another country...

Late fall, the season we are in now, is the most boring time. Winter has winter storms, spring has the transition from winter to t-storms, summer has hot and sometimes stormy conditions, and fall is just fall.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


By "fall" I meant mid to late August through the middle of September. Aka the period when troughs start becoming frequent enough to curve storms into the CONUS.

Early summer hurricanes aren't as exciting because the high generally pushes them into Mexico, ala Ernesto. And while I could chase hurricanes outside the lower 48, I'd have to buy a passport.


But that's almost entirely summer!
Either way, It's still kinda boring...weeks of summertime thunderstorms while waiting for a storm to come towards the US...besides for the last 4 years all the storms avoided bringing any effects to N Ga.... Beryl kept all her rain south, and brought a tenth of an inch in a squally band to ruin memorial day grilling.
Isaac was supposed to bring 10 inches and then went waay west. The last real storm we had was Lee, but that brouth 3 or 4 weak tornadoes across the state and less than an inch of rain where I live.
Winter and Spring is a much more exciting time...a much better bet.
Didn't you chase Isaac though? How much closer do you want a storm to get?
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Nice weather for West Palm Beach this week...Can't wait till our first real cold spell...

Wow weather here in Belize is colder than that we have had 57 in the mornings
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Nice weather for West Palm Beach this week...Can't wait till our first real cold spell...

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Quoting yoboi:



all i said is 1 +1 = 2 they both had opinions....

if your in a boat that is sinking and you have a bucket do you keep saying the boat is sinking until it has sunk??? or do you use the bucket to keep from sinking????


Spell it out for me - what makes that analogy relevant to what the scientific data says, which is what I posted about?

As an aside, you might find it helps people understand your point of view if you posted something other than exclusively one-line rhetorical questions or not-clearly-apt analogies.
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it looks like we will get a nice drenching this week lucky its so dry
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


lucky you....its practically garunteed, if it is going to snow this year, to not do so until january....prob the 10th at the earliest.
Our heaviest snow events come in February, and the stronger February sun will melt that away in a day, no matter how far below freezing the temperature is.
It never snows when the temperature is below 25F at night in GA anyway.
Our first serial derecho event tends to come Feb 15th or after, and it is generally 68F or so and a squall line will come through on a massive cold front that stretches from Canada. And then by March we are watching the models for tornado outbreaks.
It's also not out of the question to have a February or January tornado outbreak, Alabama had a good one on January 23rd last year.
So really, cold isnt really cold here, and all im doing is hoping for snow.

It is a money back guarantee that it will snow up here in SE MI. I get 100% of my money back if it, for some odd reason, doesn't snow all winter. I mean, it has already snowed 3 separate times... Yet I don't get severe weather in February and March, just heavy snows.
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


Actually besides Sandy fall was quite boring, and nothing came to GA besides drought (which hasnt really left since the last TS remnant in 2009)

Summer Hurricanes are more fun to track.
Summer Weather is somewhat dull with afternoon Tstorms.
Winter to Spring actually brings the CONUS wx that can actually affect the SE and there isnt even much of a down time.
All fall has is maybe 1 or 2 hurricanes and a lot of speculation and wishcasting about snow season....which we in the SE can't even really do because its luck of the draw for us, and isn't much of a "season"


By "fall" I meant mid to late August through the middle of September. Aka the period when troughs start becoming frequent enough to curve storms into the CONUS.

Early summer hurricanes aren't as exciting because the high generally pushes them into Mexico, ala Ernesto. And while I could chase hurricanes outside the lower 48, I'd have to buy a passport.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Wrong. Fall is the best. Hurricanes are the best (or rather, they would be if this recurve pattern didn't bar any and all plans for a chase I might have).


Actually besides Sandy fall was quite boring, and nothing came to GA besides drought (which hasnt really left since the last TS remnant in 2009)

Summer Hurricanes are more fun to track.
Summer Weather is somewhat dull with afternoon Tstorms.
Winter to Spring actually brings the CONUS wx that can actually affect the SE and there isnt even much of a down time.
All fall has is maybe 1 or 2 hurricanes and a lot of speculation and wishcasting about snow season....which we in the SE can't even really do because its luck of the draw for us, and isn't much of a "season"
Plus you can chase in summer....Isaac came right to you.
You can chase snow in winter.
And tornadoes in spring and sometimes winter.
:D
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


I can't wait for my biannual 3 inch snowstorm....
I'm hoping we have a snow event that can cover our lawn this year...love the cold...and the best part is right after winter you get into tornado season.

Fall is the lamest season of the year....

Late winter and Early spring, and the transition from hoping for snow to wishing for severe weather is the best.


Wrong. Fall is the best. Hurricanes are the best (or rather, they would be if this recurve pattern didn't bar any and all plans for a chase I might have).
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NRL changed from 26W to BOPHA so that means JTWC will upgrade at 0300z warning.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14598
BBC News
Gas tanker Ob River attempts first winter Arctic crossing Link

"He stresses that the changes in climate are less important than the growing demand for oil and gas."

I think I am developing a brain tumor
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Quoting wxchaser97:

Fall is boring because the hurricane season is winding down but winter storms haven't begun yet. Winter is less than a month away from now luckily.


lucky you....its practically garunteed, if it is going to snow this year, to not do so until january....prob the 10th at the earliest.
Our heaviest snow events come in February, and the stronger February sun will melt that away in a day, no matter how far below freezing the temperature is.
It never snows when the temperature is below 25F at night in GA anyway.
Our first serial derecho event tends to come Feb 15th or after, and it is generally 68F or so and a squall line will come through on a massive cold front that stretches from Canada. And then by March we are watching the models for tornado outbreaks.
It's also not out of the question to have a February or January tornado outbreak, Alabama had a good one on January 23rd last year.
So really, cold isnt really cold here, and all im doing is hoping for snow.
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


I can't wait for my biannual 3 inch snowstorm....
I'm hoping we have a snow event that can cover our lawn this year...love the cold...and the best part is right after winter you get into tornado season.

Fall is the lamest season of the year....

Late winter and Early spring, and the transition from hoping for snow to wishing for severe weather is the best.

Fall is boring because the hurricane season is winding down but winter storms haven't begun yet. Winter is less than a month away from now luckily.
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Quoting TomTaylor:
I'm the exact opposite. I can't wait till the days start getting longer. I love the sun and I love the warmth, somebody take me to the tropics already!


I can't wait for my biannual 3 inch snowstorm....
I'm hoping we have a snow event that can cover our lawn this year...love the cold...and the best part is right after winter you get into tornado season.

Fall is the lamest season of the year....

Late winter and Early spring, and the transition from hoping for snow to wishing for severe weather is the best.
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Quoting TomTaylor:
I'm the exact opposite. I can't wait till the days start getting longer. I love the sun and I love the warmth, somebody take me to the tropics already!

I can wait till the days get longer. I love the snow and cold, and I don't really want winter to end any time soon.
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240. VR46L
The rains are not letting up in the UK
Radar


and sat



and

Floods in UK: Travel disrupted by heavy rain in northern England and Wales

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Quoting AussieStorm:


Shouting???? really??



its just a word, the point was to let it go
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Quoting plutorising:
it's not the subject matter that starts the arguments. trolls start arguments.

You are encouraged to ignore trolls. Do not argue with them!

So if people followed that commonsense advice, what would we be arguing about?

Edit: People who argue with trolls are guilty along with the trolls.
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Bopha will probably be a typhoon by tomorrow afternoon, maybe sooner. It's building a nice central dense overcast.

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Quoting WeatherfanPR:


First One at 5:49 pm est

Second One at 5:49 pm est

Third One at 5:50 pm est

More then probably a plane, heading directly into the sunset.
The sun was probably just below the horizon from your point of view and the sunlight is lighting up the vapor trail, hence the appearance of it diving straight down.
A sort of miniture sunset effect.
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235. Skyepony (Mod)
Panama has declared three disaster areas after two people were killed in landslides triggered by torrential rain. "I have just seen the people who were killed and spoken with their families. This is more serious than people thought," President Ricardo Martinelli said in a posting on Twitter on Sunday. The worst-hit areas were Colon province on the Caribbean coast and the Capira area 60km west of Panama City, where a landslide buried two people inside their home. Martinelli toured hard-hit areas and declared Capira, Chorrera and Colon disaster areas, to speed up assistance to them, a statement from his office said. In Chorrera, water filled homes to the roof, rivers burst their banks and shops were flooded. At least 800 homes have been damaged by the storm and 94 people had to be evacuated by rescue officials, emergency workers said. "I have lived in Chorrera for 38 years and never seen anything like this," said Guillermo Ferrufino, minister for social development. He said the death toll could rise as authorities begin to reach areas cut off by the heavy rains.

Click pic for loop.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 196 Comments: 38769
Quoting Neapolitan:
Definitely a westward-bound jet aircraft.

If you're unsure about what you saw, you can always check other reports at the AMS report page, or even report your own sighting.


thanks. I'm reporting it.
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Quoting DocNDswamp:
As for the upcoming Winter Solstice 2012 discussion, well I'm somewhat depressed over it. But I feel that way every year with it marking the end of days getting shorter / subsequently growing longer.

I'm the exact opposite. I can't wait till the days start getting longer. I love the sun and I love the warmth, somebody take me to the tropics already!
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232. Skyepony (Mod)
Heavy rain and strong winds battered areas of Britain over the weekend, killing two people and flooding 800 homes, officials said Sunday. A 21-year-old woman died and two others were injured when a large spruce tree collapsed in Exeter, near the southwestern coast, late Saturday. The woman was in a small tent to shelter from the storm when the tree fell on it, police said. She later died at a hospital. The rains caused the most serious problems in southern England. In nearby Cornwall, people had to briefly evacuate their homes as flood waters and torrential rain battered villages. In Cambridgeshire, a man was driving a car when it plunged into a swollen river in a flooded area. The man was pulled from the water, but he died on the way to the hospital. Hundreds of highways and roads were closed due to the flooding, and several train services were canceled. Officials said the situation was stabilizing in southern England, but weather forecasters said persistent rain would continue in the north of England and Scotland on Sunday. Prime Minister David Cameron pledged that all flood victims would get the help they needed.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 196 Comments: 38769
231. Skyepony (Mod)
Eight persons were killed and thousands of others displaced by flash floods triggered by incessant rains in Sri Lanka, officials said on Sunday. “We have recorded eight deaths due to torrential rain over the last five days,” Lal Sarath Kumara, Assistant Director of the Disaster Management Centre said. The deaths were caused by lightning and drowning, he said. Districts in the central south and south eastern Sri Lanka have been hit by the heavy downpour, with Matara district being the worst affected, officials said. Several roads in the central hill districts remain impassable due to the earth slips caused by heavy rainfall, they said.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 196 Comments: 38769
Quoting CybrTeddy:


99% sure that's a airplane, at the speeds a meteor would be going, you'd be lucky to have gotten a single shot of it.


A few tens of kilometers per second isn't impossible to get several photos off, seeing as how it probably would be approaching at an angle.

Here's a fireball from a meteor, and it was seen for a while.



and



and

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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.

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