June 5, 2011

Climate change, extreme weather create perfect storms

Watching the videos of tornados in the United States was like watching some fictional monster movie. It did not seem real. The size of the ominous dark cloud, the funnel, the debris in the air, the noise and sound of destruction and the awesome power of this event is etched in most of our minds. But it was real and the death and pain will be with us for a long time.

Many statements are being made as to what is the cause; and what is not, and it will be some time before all of the information is sorted out. There are, however, some things we do know. The "NASA Departure of SST" (sea surface temperature) map centered over the Gulf of Mexico shows the unusually high temperatures of the water in April. Since warm water heats the air above it — and warmer air holds more water vapor — the stage is set for events to happen. And happen they did.

Warm weather in the northern Great Plains began to melt the deeper than normal snow pack and fill the rivers in the region. As the water laden air from the Gulf streamed into the central portion of the U.S. it collided with the cooler jet stream coming down from Canada. This triggered significant rainfall events in Missouri and elsewhere where 18 to 20 inches of rain were recorded.

For comparison purposes the North Country received about 3 plus inches of rain on several occasions in late April and May. The flooding in the Champlain Valley was compounded by the melting of the deep snowpack in the Adirondacks and the Green Mountains and significantly amplified the runoff. To get 18 to 20 inches of rain in a span of a few days is not something many of us experience and would be catastrophic if it occurred in the Lake Champlain basin.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • ouellette.jpg Web doctor always gets it right

    I have access to the collected medical knowledge of all recorded history at my fingertips, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Airport projects can benefit local economy

    Using a local workforce keeps wages and spending in the community if it can be done in a cost-effective manner, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Producers can recycle tubing

    Project allows maple-syrup makers to conveniently dispose of their used tubing in an environmentally friendly way, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • little_mug.jpg There's no saw like an old saw Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own sayings from childhood, columnist Gordie Little writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg Privacy concerns make a comeback

    There's a growing concern amongst the millennials, columnist Stu Denenberg writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Several options exist for downtown

    Pedestrian mall just one idea that could be good for city's economic future, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Government can't create success on its own

    It takes a grass-roots community effort of people working together to assure future accomplishment, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns
Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time