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You are here: Home Opinion Paula I. Bryant Extreme weather

Extreme weather

Last week, this area went from being in a drought condition to receiving six inches of rain plus two inches of snow, and temperatures ranged from the 30s at night to the high 50s during the day.

This week we are scheduled to see temperatures in the upper 50s, then get hit with a cold arctic blast for a couple of days with highs only reaching the low 20s and lows dipping down into the teens before heading back up later in the week to the 40s and 50s again.

Is it just me, or does it seem we’ve seen some extreme weather events during the last year or so?

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, it’s not just me noticing the weird weather.

In 2012, at least 38 record-breaking extreme weather records were set in Virginia. Nationwide, 3,527 monthly weather records for heat, rain and snow were broken by extreme weather events that hit communities throughout the U.S., according to an updated interactive extreme weather mapping tool and year-end review released by the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

2012 tallies reveal even more monthly weather records set than the 3,251 records smashed in 2011, with record-breaking extreme events that occurred in every state.

In 2012, Virginia experienced:

Record-breaking heat in 22 counties with a total of 32 new heat records

 Record-breaking rainfall in 16 counties with a total of 20 new rainfall records

 Record-breaking snow in six counties with a total of eight new snow records

 17 large wildfires

Because these monthly weather records compete against prior records set over at least the last 30 years at each location, the 3,527 monthly records-broken highlight notable patterns of extreme weather in the U.S. 

And in fact, from 1980 through 2011, the frequency of weather-related extreme events in North America nearly quintupled, rising more rapidly than anywhere else in the world, according to international insurance giant MunichRe. 

In 2012, Americans experienced the hottest March on record in the contiguous U.S., and July was the hottest single month ever recorded in the lower 48 states. 

As a whole, 2012 was the warmest year ever recorded in the U.S., according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) State of the Climate report. 

NOAA also has estimated that 2012 will surpass 2011 in aggregate costs for U.S. annual billion-dollar disasters, and MunichRe also recently revealed that in 2012, more than 90 percent of the world’s insured disaster costs occurred in the states. 

Some of 2012’s most significant weather disasters include: 

 The summer of 2012 was the worst drought in 50 years across the nation’s breadbasket, with over 1,300 U.S. counties in 29 states declared drought disaster areas.

 Wildfires burned over 9.2 million acres in the U.S., and destroyed hundreds of homes. The average size of the fires set an all-time record of 165 acres per fire, exceeding the prior decade’s 2001-2010 average of approximately 90 acres per fire.

 Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge height, 13.88 feet, broke the all-time record in New York Harbor, and ravaged communities across New Jersey and New York with floodwaters and winds. The cost of Sandy reached an estimated $79 billion with at least 131 deaths reported.

For more information about 2012’s record-breaking extreme weather events, see:

 NRDC’s 2012 Extreme Weather Mapping Tool 

 Kim Knowlton’s blog: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kknowlton/

 NRDC’s What Climate Change Looks Like

 

Just a reminder

And while we’re on the subject of weather…

With all the rain we’ve had lately, motorists need to be reminded if you operate your windshield wipers you need to turn on your headlights. 

For safety sake, to see and to be seen in inclement weather, turn on your headlights, not your parking lights, your head lights.

That’s the law, and it’s a good one. 

Please follow it and stay safe.

 

Done deal?

All this wet weather is also proving a point that uranium mining opponents are hoping will help their cause in an effort to keep the ban.

In the past, uranium mining has been restricted to dry climates in the United States. Now the push is on in Richmond to lift the moratorium on uranium mining in Southside Virginia, a place that receives abundant rainfall as seen last week when several roads leading in to Coles Hill flooded.

Coles Hill is the site of one of the world’s most significant undeveloped deposits of uranium ore. The mine is projected to produce up to 120 million pounds of yellow cake over its economic life. When fully operational, the mine is expected to produce 2 million pounds of yellow cake per year.

All this rain and flooding is certainly something legislators supporting lifting the ban ought to think about … that is if it’s not already a done deal anyway. 

I hope it’s not, but I wouldn’t bet against it. 

Southside Virginia seems to be a sacrificial lamb to the gods of alternative energy. Legislators in the more metropolitan localities of the commonwealth don’t care two bits about the welfare of residents here, or it seems that way.

And now the bill has been crafted to only include uranium mining in Pittsylvania County, so what does that tell you?

It gives me an uneasy feeling, like we’re being sold out.

Hey governor, senators and delegates who live somewhere other than Southside Virginia, in case it has slipped your mind, we’re part of Virginia too.

Stay tuned folks, I think we’re probably in for a bumpy ride.