Just northeast of Venezuela on this map, you’ll see a smear of red. That’s Tropical Storm 9. In a day or two, it will be Hurricane Isaac.
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On Sunday, the Tampa Tribune ran a column from the head of the University of Georgia’s Atmospheric Sciences Program considering how climate change will affect the heavily populated coastal city. On hurricanes in particular, he wrote:
The Tampa area has been spared a direct hit by a major hurricane in recent years, but it is not a question of “if” a hurricane will hit but “when.” While the literature is still emerging on climate change and hurricanes, a recent study by NOAA scientists suggests that as the climate system warms, major hurricanes — Hurricane Katrina or greater — may be less frequent but more intense. Ocean temperatures are rising as well, and warm water is the fuel for these storms. Stronger storms coupled with elevated sea level clearly means a greater inland storm-surge hazard.
There are two reasons this is interesting. The first is that Isaac looks likely to have at least some impact on Tampa.
The second is that, if the storm hits Tampa Bay, it will probably do so during the Republican convention.
Last year, Michele Bachmann claimed that Hurricane Irene and the D.C.-area earthquake were messages from God. “I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians,” she said.
How about dropping a climate-change-strengthened storm on top of their quadrennial convention? Would that do it?
Given that the convention is prominently sponsored by Chevron, Duke Energy, and ExxonMobil, it would probably need to be at least category 4.