Sunday, October 30, 2011

Snow in October -- a refutation of climate change?: a look at traffic lane laws; Muller reverses on climate change: it's real

I can remember back in 1969 when interviewing in upstate New York when recruiters told me about having just set a record in Syracuse for “snow in October”.

So, with the northeast’s sudden October noreaster yesterday, is there denial of global warming, that it got cold earlier? Or is it a sign of storms getting more violent?

The vulnerability of modern life to these storms, with the massive power outages for communities served by conventional above-ground lines, seems so much greater than a half-century ago when I was growing up. We didn’t think about power outages.   I think we had one in March 1958 with a blizzard. Then, no power could mean you couldn’t get a term paper or studying done. Now, it means loss of contact with media.

Today, I drove west from Arlington along 267, and saw very little snow until almost Leesburg.  When driving up Bull Run Mountain on Route 7, I suddenly saw continuous snow cover at about 700 feet elevation. It dropped off a little around Hillsboro (next picture) on Route 9, but then at one of the lowest crossings of the Blue Ridge, Keye’s Gap, everything was a slushy mess.  I parked at the Appalachian trail and saw tres down. A hiker sitting there warned me I had parked under a tree about to fall.  East of Leesburg, however, or below 800 feet or so, snow had not clung to deciduous foliage very much. 

I saw a lot more downed trees on US 340 as it descends around Harper’s Ferry.  Some, despite snow having melted off in the midday sun, looked ready to crack, but nothing fell on me as I drove. On the way back, along I-270 in Maryland, the snow disappeared after one reached the crest along Sugarloaf.

There’s another public safety issue around DC: the way drivers speed up when you need to change lanes.  At many points, you enter the Beltway or other multiple-laned highways from the left, inviting sideswiping when having to move right and other drivers do not let you in.  In some states, on the other hand (like Pennsylvania and New Jersey), it’s illegal to drive in the leftmost lane unless passing.  That’s not practical in the DC area.

CNN, in reporting on the October storms, is reporting that many power outages are in "old neighborhoods" with older, perhaps rotten, trees.  

As for the debate on climate change -- take note of what is going on in Thailand now, even in Bangkok.

For more on storm power outages, look at the "BillBoushka" blog, Feb. 5, 2010, or the label "infrastructure".

Youtube video below, from yesterday, not sure what state.  The worst hit area may be around Harrisburg and York PA, where there is still more foilage.

Update: Oct. 31

Note this story on the Huffington Post by Seth Borenstein: "Richard Muller, global warming skeptic, now agrees climate change is real", link here, based on his own new study. 

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