Monday, October 29, 2012
Live blogging the apocalypse -- Part two
So far (8:00 am eastern time) I'm cool. It's getting a bit breezy but not so as to bring down any timber. I've got my 'lectric, just had my morning cup of joe, and . .. whoops, there goes a big gust. The National Weather Service is promising me tropical storm force winds soon enough, so I'm staying home.
I hereby command you to read Joe Romm on this situation. He very much likes the term Frankenstorm. My grandfather was a professor of English literature, who had a wide range of interests from Chaucer to Faulkner. Along the way he wrote about Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. The novel's central metaphor is taken to represent the ways in which scientific and technological advances can unleash unforeseeable consequences. (It's subtitle, in case you didn't know, is The New Prometheus. The Gods punished Prometheus for giving fire to humanity but we're all getting it on the chin for our collective folly in this world.)
Romm explains why this unprecedented event is happening now. What is unprecedented about it? It starts out as the largest hurricane in known history. That means, not the hurricane with the most powerful central winds, but the hurricane with the largest extent of tropical force winds, hundreds of miles in width. It could form as late in the season as it did, and retain its power as a hurricane, because the ocean is much warmer than it has been previously -- some 5 degrees Fahrenheit off the mid-Atlantic coast. At the same time, the disappearance of arctic sea ice and the reduced arctic temperature gradient causes the jet stream to develop deep southerly loops. An unprecedented blocking high off of Greenland and a powerful winter storm with its central low pressure moving into the central U.S. are causing the hurricane to make a highly unusual west turn into New Jersey, where it is colliding with the winter storm to create a hybrid which has never been seen before.
We'll see how extensive the wind damage, including power outages, really turn out to be, and whether Manhattan is inundated by the surge. Meanwhile, I'll be catching up on my reading. I'll let you know what Habermas says about Lifeworld and System. And I'll try to get back to you once the woods start crashing down around me, if the technology holds up well enough.