The disastrous weather events of 2017 are estimated to have cost the U.S. over $300 billion. This figure does not even include the damage done to islands in the Caribbean. We have already suffered through a Bomb Cyclone, broiling bats, and California mudslides. Is this a foreshadowing of what the weather of 2018 has in store for us?
This year already, a powerful winter storm pounded the eastern coast of North America. With hurricane winds, arctic temperatures and a rapid drop in barometric pressure, weather forecasters called this phenomenon a bombogenesis or “bomb cyclone.” That’s a new and unfortunate addition to our weather lexicon. The first winter storm of 2018, a nor’easter, dropped temperatures from Florida to the Canadian Maritimes with devastating repercussions for marine life. (photo – NOAA)
Raining Iguanas! Sharkcicles! and Huddling Manatees!
In Florida, near-freezing temperatures caused cold-blooded iguanas to fall from their leafy perches. Three Thresher sharks washed ashore in Cape Cod, frozen in the frigid offshore waters.
To escape the plunging temperature, as many as 500 manatees huddled together in Three Sisters Springs. Florida Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Gil McRae urged boaters to give these areas a wide berth. “Aggregated animals should not be disturbed, as this could cause them to leave the warm-water sites that help them cope with cold temperatures.”
The normally warm waters off Galveston, Texas got so cold that sea turtles were stunned. Dozens of green sea turtles were brought to NOAA’s Sea Turtle Hospital in Galveston to slowly thaw out. Once their body temperatures warm up, they are returned to the sea.
The freezing temperatures prompted a response from President Trump. He tweeted: “we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our country, but not other countries was going to pay TRILLONS OF DOLLARS to protect against” [sic]. His words continue to reveal the US President’s inability to grasp the concept of climate change.
Broiling Bats in Australia!
In Australia, a sweltering heatwave caused highways to melt and bats to broil. Temperatures in Sdyney reached 47.3°C (118°F), the warmest in nearly 80 years.
Bats, mostly juveniles, fell from trees in Sydney’s suburbs. It’s hard to estimate, but some believe that as many as 5,000 bats died in New South Wales during this wave of heat.
“They basically boil,” said Kate Ryan the Campbelltown manager. “It affects their brain – their brain just fries and they become incoherent.”
Wildfires to Mudslides
This last year, California suffered some of the worst wildfires in state history. As often happens, after hillsides are denuded by fire and rains inevitably return, the mud slides. (photo – CNN)
In 2018, we have seen the heart-rending images of mudslide survivors searching splintered homes and drowned river beds in Montecito, north of Los Angeles, searching for the bodies of loved ones.
Reports indicate that seventeen people died with eight still missing in this disaster.
We can hope that the weather improves through the rest of the year. However the trends of climate change and global warming point to dire weather events as the new norm. If 2017 is an indication, welcome to the new norm.
See our 2017 wrap-up: Top Ocean Stories of 2017, Part 4: Climate Change, Extreme Weather Events, Clean Energy
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
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