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Bahamas disturbance 95L could become tropical depression; Lupit spares Philippines

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 3:03 PM GMT on October 23, 2009

An area of disturbed weather over the central Bahama Islands associated with a surface trough of low pressure has been designated Invest 95L by NHC this morning, and has the potential to become a tropical depression on Saturday. This morning's QuikSCAT pass showed a large, disorganized circulation in the region, and recent satellite loops show a modest and slowly increasing amount of heavy thunderstorm activity. Wind shear over the system was a prohibitively high 30 knots last night, but has fallen dramatically to just 10 knots this morning, and is expected to remain in the moderate range, 10 -15 knots, through Sunday. There is a large region of dry air to the west of 95L, and this dry air is interfering with development. This system is expected to move west-northwest and be near Miami on Saturday night, then potentially turn northwards towards South Carolina. It is unlikely that 95L has enough time to grow to more than a minimal tropical storm with 45 mph winds. An Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft is on call to investigate the system Saturday afternoon, if necessary.

Figure 1. Morning satellite image of Invest 95L.

Typhoon Lupit spares the Philippines
Tropitcal Storm Lupit has weakened and turn northward, out to sea, sparing the storm-ravaged Philippine Island of Luzon from further misery. Lupit never made landfall and the heaviest rains stayed out to sea, with rainfall amounts from the typhoon generally ranging from 1 - 2 inches over northern Luzon Island. Lupit means "cruel" in Tagalog, one of the main languages of the Philippines, but Lupit was primarily cruel in a psychological sense, keeping jittery residents on edge for days as the storm slowly approached. Luzon is still recovering from the destruction wrought by back-to-back typhoons Ketsana and Parma, which killed 860 people and did $642 million in damage.

The road to Copenhagen
By some accounts, the future of the world will be at stake this December, when the crucial U.N. Climate Change Conference will be held December 7 - 18 in Copenhagen, Denmark. At that meeting, the leaders of the world will gather to negotiate an agreement to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The new agreement will be the world's road map for dealing with climate change, and the stakes are huge. In the coming weeks, major efforts will be made by both sides of the debate to sway public opinion on climate change. Opponents of CO2 emission regulations made their case last weekend, with the release of the video, Not Evil, Just Wrong. Billed as the largest simultaneous film premiere party in U.S. history, the movie aired on 7,000 screens in 50 states. The movie was originally intended to be released at major theaters throughout the U.S., but Hollywood showed insufficient interest in the film. The producers were forced to release the movie on video and hold private "movie parties" for its opening. The movie fiercely attacks Al Gore, and decrys "the true cost of global warming hysteria" on jobs and the economy.

This Sunday, the green lobby is fighting back. The newly-formed climate advocacy group 350.org is sponsoring 4,517 actions in 173 countries. The group is seeking to promote the views of leading climate scientists, including NASA's Dr. James Hansen, that the highest "safe" level of CO2 in the atmosphere is 350 ppm--lower than the current 388 ppm, and far below the target value of 450 ppm typically cited as the "danger" level for atmospheric CO2. The plan is to have thousands of citizens making giant human 3s in some cities, 5s in others, and 0s in others--a sort of planet-scale Scrabble game that they hope CNN and BBC will try to solve for them on the evening news. There will be underwater rallies on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and in the Middle East off the coast of Oman. Over 300 land-based rallies will be held in China, and 1,000 in the U.S.

With tropical season winding down, I plan to make regular posts over the next six weeks analyzing the scientific claims of efforts by the green lobby and the fossil fuel industry and its allies to win your hearts and minds in the run-up to the December 7 conference in Copenhagen. My first post in this series will look at 350.org's claim that 350 ppm of CO2 represents the danger level for CO2 in the atmosphere. I'll also look at an audacious TV ad that boldly asserts that more CO2 in the atmosphere is better for Earth's ecosystems.

Figure 2. Competing for your hearts and minds: Cover of the DVD Not Evil, Just Wrong (left), and a promotional image from the http://www.350.org web site (right), showing children in India spelling out the number "350" to promote a 350 ppm target for CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

Next post
Well, I must admit to not being on the ball with this one--the sudden development of 95L caught me by surprise. I'll make another post this afternoon if the system shows significant development.

Jeff Masters


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.