Local News

January 6, 2013

Adapting to extreme weather

Towns, villages plan for changing weather patterns

RAY BROOK — Heated debate about changing climatic patterns seems to have cooled.

Vigorous — if not antipathetic — discourse has been tempered by severe-weather events that left scars and economic dents on community and commercial landscapes.

If not here, then where will the next catastrophe hit?

Following Irene and Lee in 2011, 2012 might have pushed public awareness over the brink with a super-storm named Sandy. It was a weather anomaly that flummoxed meteorologists.

The turbulent wind, rain and snow bent the weather models and changed averages.

For decades, climate science has continued to try to predict what lies ahead. Progressively dire reports have not affected public policy in any real, meaningful way, given the intense skepticism.

But science is finding more changing weather patterns than less. And some here are forming an adaptation plan.


In November, a group of U.S. scientists published another prediction model in Environmental Research Letters with high-resolution maps based on current geographical and weather data.

According to the article, their conclusions found a “total annual extreme precipitation in both the Northeast and Southeast have a mean increase of 35 percent or more, suggesting a greater risk of flooding in future climate conditions. 

“Considering both heat waves and extreme precipitation, the Northeast region shows the largest increases. Thus, it is important that the Northeast take actions to mitigate the impact from climate change in the next several decades.”

The updated models also show sea levels are rising 60 percent faster than predicted five years ago by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The most recent projections don’t go out a century, either.

Statistics suggests an average temperature rise in the Northeast — throughout the Adirondacks, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine — of some 5.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the next 30 to 50 years.

Climate-change response plans left unfinished five years ago seem ineffectual somehow.

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