Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hail Storms & Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Flooded Basements & Beyond

It's not often you get to play around with hail storms, flood, earthquakes, and potential hurricanes/tropical storms all in the same week.  Add in right when school is starting--yes, the perfect storm indeed.

This past Friday, an unexpected hail storm hit our hometown, probably complete with tornado touchdowns or microbursts based on the neighborhood trees that were down.  Definitely complete with golf-ball-sized hail--and a lot of it.  Good time to be cooking out hamburgers!

"Lucky" for us, due to the rate of rainfall, we ended up with water pouring into through our basement door to the tune of gushing a foot or two through the basement entry stairwell.  Friday's total carpet saturation led to Saturday's total carpet annihilation...and a backyard stormwater management landscaping project that we're trying to get all together by the potential of Hurricane Irene's impact come this weekend.  Some storm weather projections:  right up the Chesapeake Bay--not good for us Baltimorians, and definitely not good when your school is adjacent to a river, sitting 6 feet above sea level.  Memories of Hurricane Isabel come to mind.
Pepper in the equally unexpected surprise of the 5.8 magnitude East Coast earthquake's made for an interesting week.  It certainly was an odd sensation--I was reading in our above ground pool, and thought both it and I were going to test out our new backyard drainage system!  My kids came running out, not sure what was going on inside and a little on the freaked out side...stories all over Facebook tell you variations of the same tale.
USA Recent Earthquake Map
 Given the fact that a number of years ago I lived in Florida for 5 years. the media drama of "the cone of uncertainty" (insert dramatic piano music here) and spaghetti models all comes back.  So does my Wedding Day Weekend mid-Sept. 1999 when Hurricane Floyd hit this same area.   It'll be interesting to see what the weekend holds...with any luck, the more easternly track, the better!

Is it just me, or does anyone else think it's interesting that 12 years ago mid-September we were only at Hurricane F(loyd) = the 6th of the season....yet, here and now, we're at Hurricane I(rene) = 9th of the season, and a whole 3-4 weeks earlier than where we were 12 years ago.  Climate change in action?  Maybe. 

But it seems that according to the UNISYS Atlantic Storm Tracking site, it has ebbed and flowed for this August 27ish time table over the past 12 years, having had 4-9 seasonal hurricanes/tropical storms by this point (= D-named to I-named)...with one grand exception.  A little storm named Hurricane Katrina (11th Atlantic Storm that 2005 season).  With it's dual impact of a Category 1 hurricane crossing Florida and the Bahamas August 23, 2005, then the big kahuna hit of New Orleans as a Category 3 hurricane on August 29th.  As the #1 costliest, the 6th overall strongest, and 1 of the 5 deadliest Atlantic storms, we all recall--it was a doozy. 
So scientists more knowledgeable on the subject than I will have to make the call as to whether this weather history is climate change based or not.  I just seem to find it striking, and wouldn't be surprised.  Now, as to whether earthquakes and plate tectonics are related--that may take further research.  Some interesting articles indicating that perhaps there is a connection are as follows:

--From SmartPlanet: "Climate Change is Linked to Tectonic Plate Movement" (April 14, 2011)
--From AlterNet: Scientists Find Link Between Global Warming and Earthquakes (April 14, 2011)
--From Grist: "2011 Natural Disasters Cost a Record $265 Billion" (July 15, 2011)   

No matter what, wacky weather and the ground shaking such as this are memorable, and they make you think. I think it goes without saying:  while looking ahead to the weekend, let's hope it's not too terribly memorable!! 

Stay dry out there!

Pics:  Basement:  Mine, August 20th, Earthquake Map:, Hurricane Irene Spaghetti Model Map:,  Hurricane Floyd map:, Hurricane Katrina:

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