From Vietnam to Sardinia Rare, Extreme Weather Dislocates Thousands

Vietnam:  A storm named Podul follows Typhoon Haiyan through Vietnam.  While Haiyan did little damage outside the Philippines, Podul is saturating south central Vietnam, leading the the release of reservoir holdings to protect the dams, and thus, more flooding.

Flooding in Vietnam has killed at least 28 people since Friday, with nine others missing and nearly 80,000 displaced, state media and government reports said, after a tropical depression brought heavy rains across central areas of the country.

In Quang Ngai province, where nine people were killed and four were missing, floodwaters rose above a previous peak measured in 1999, submerging many houses, the official Thanh Nien newspaper reported. … Around 100,000 houses were submerged and nearly 80,000 people… The Guardian


Slow-moving and powerful Extratropical Storm Cleopatra (called Ruven by the Free University of Berlin) dumped prodigious rains over the Mediterranean island of Sardinia on Monday, triggering floods that have killed at least eighteen people. … Monday’s deluge was … the 3rd greatest 24-hour rainfall event for Sardinia…

Sardinia Floos 2013

The rain was generated by a slow-moving low over the warm Mediterranean, kept in place (blocked) by ridge of high pressure.  Though the latest IPCC report says that ‘ trends in blocking intensity and persistence remain uncertain,” it seems to Jeff Masters and other observers that the world has had more than its fair share in recent years, including that which triggered the catastrophic flooding in Germany and Austria in June, 2013.

…extreme summertime jet stream patterns had become twice as common during 2001 – 2012 compared to the previous 22 years. One of these extreme patterns occurred in August 2002, during Central Europe’s last 1-in-100 to 1-in-500 year flood. When the jet stream goes into one of these extreme configurations, it freezes in its tracks for weeks, resulting in an extended period of extreme heat or flooding, depending upon where the high-amplitude part of the jet stream lies. The scientists found that because human-caused global warming is causing the Arctic to heat up more than twice as rapidly as the rest of the planet, a unique resonance pattern capable of causing this behavior was resulting.

Meanwhile, back in the USA, central Illinois was blasted by some 85 separately reported tornadoes on Sunday.  Eight are reported dead.

The grand total of 572 severe weather reports (filtered to remove duplicates) for the day were the most of any day of 2013, surpassing the 538 total reports from June 13. The 85 preliminary tornado reports is also the highest for any day of 2013, surpassing the 62 reports from January 29.

 The movement out of holding shares in big coal cannot happen fast enough.

Flooding Imperils 500,000 in Sudan

Not too much notice in the West of this:

Forty-eight people have been killed and more than 500,000 affected by the worst floods in Sudan in quarter of a century.

The region around the capital, Khartoum, was particularly badly hit, with at least 15,000 homes destroyed and thousands of others damaged. Across Sudan, at least 25,000 homes are no longer habitable. A UN official described the situation as a disaster.

The flooding, caused by continuous rains…

Deadly floods have hit 14 of Sudan’s 18 states. The capital Khartoum, one of the hardest hit areas, experienced the worst floods in 25 years.

Deadly floods have hit 14 of Sudan’s 18 states. The capital Khartoum, one of the hardest hit areas, experienced the worst floods in 25 years.

If there is little news there is less of its linkage to climate change.  This 2012 dissertation from the University of Reading points directly to it.

Rainfall was found to be associated with the strength and humidity of low level circulations, in addition to the positioning of the upper level tropical easterly jet. Sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic, Indian Ocean and Mediterranean were found to be strongly associated with rainfall in Sudan, suggesting a degree of predictability in the rainfall based on sea surface temperature. Trends in these variables were analysed, with the conclusion that many variables have changed in recent years to produce more favourable conditions for rainfall in this region. This recent shift to a  favourable state relates well to studies in global circulation models which indicate a potential increase in precipitation over north-eastern Africa under anthropogenic climate warming.
And in Mali, also.  Torrential rains, flash flooding, deaths and homelessness:

At least 24 people have been killed in flash floods caused by torrential rain in the Malian capital Bamako, a government official said.

Thousands were also made homeless as the Niger river burst its banks, destroying around 100 houses in several hours of heavy rain on Wednesday in the city of around two million people, Alassane Bocoum, the national director of social development, said on Thursday.


Manila Buried in Water

While fires rage across the US west, the Philippines and particularly the capital, Manila, is buried in water, again.

Aug. 20, 2013 file photo, office workers cross a flooded street using makeshift floats during heavy rain at the financial district of Makati, south of Manila, Philippines.AP/Aaron Favila

Aug. 20, 2013 file photo, office workers cross a flooded street using makeshift floats during heavy rain at the financial district of Makati, south of Manila, Philippines.AP/Aaron Favila

And again, much of the catastrophe seems to be from humans soiling their own nest.

  • Population growth, inadequate infrastructure, corruption, deforestation and even trash build-up combine to exacerbate the impact. It’s a trend experts expect to continue.
  • Much of Manila, once known as the “Pearl of the Orient,” was lost in heavy bombardment at the end of World War II. The haphazard, poorly planned urban reconstruction coupled with the 10-fold jump in population to nearly 12 million today has severely strained the city’s ability to cope with flooding.
  • Each year, about 20 typhoons hit the country, and they have become stronger over the past decade, said Edna Juanillo, head of the Philippine government weather agency’s climatology division. That prompted the agency about a decade ago to add a fourth category to public storm warning system for typhoons with sustained winds of more than 185 kilometers per hour (115 mph).
  • “It has not been concluded if this is caused by global warming and climate change, but we’ve been seeing more powerful tropical cyclones with winds of 150 kph and above in the last decade,” Juanillo said.
  • Four of the strongest typhoons that hit between 2008 and 2012 caused damage of $2.2 billion compared to $828 million for the four of the most devastating typhoons between 1990-1998.


Manila Drowns, Again

Residents wait for their family members being rescued at the end of a flooded street in the village of Tumana, Marikina town, in suburban Manila, on August 7, 2012, after torrential rains inundated most of the capital. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images)

Enormously frustrating that no article [here, here, here] I can find on Manila flooding and tropical storms puts this week’s events in the context of past such events.  The Philippines, like Bangladesh, is always saturated by monsoon rains. What we need to know, and in every article, is the trend line.  Compared not just to one other major storm or flood (2009 Philippines, 900 dead), but to years. How does this compare: total rainfall; intensity of rain; flooding, deaths, homelessness?  The business world lives and dies on rolling averages and minute tracking of sales and expenses compared to others in the industry, past records and future projections.  Is it so much to ask that where human lives and welfare are at stake similar tools are put to use?

The CNN link above links to another CNN article: What’s behind the major flood disasters in Asia? The best the author can do is this:

We always say that global warming or climate change does not explain, or cause, specific weather events or disasters. But one of the consequences of climate change, according to climate scientists, is a higher frequency of extreme rainfall events. A warmer climate results in more moisture in the atmosphere from evaporation, and thus, higher rainfall amounts are possible in storms.

Could this be what we are seeing? Perhaps, especially considering we have not seen an increase in the number of tropical storms or typhoons over the past several years, but the number of intense flooding scenarios seem to be in the rise.

Thanks, but let’s get data, comparisons, charts.  It is said that no single storm is caused by climate change.  Fair enough I’ve thought, until recently.  But if 30 migrants are stuffed into the back of a closed truck and some suffocate or die of heat exhaustion, would we say that no single death was caused by the conditions in the truck?  The insurance company perhaps — not the lack of oxygen, but compromised lungs, yada yada yada.  The rest of the sane world would know exactly what killed them.

All storms are taking place within a radically changing climate, and we should be expecting the unexpected, quit dithering and get about saving ourselves.  Kick the door down; stop spewing heat-trapping stuff into the sky above us.