Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Wild Weather Report

What do jellyfish have to do with climate change?

Climate change appears to be good for the Free State (this year anyway). Average rainfall for Bloem in August is supposed to be just 15mm, and for Kimberley 7mm*. This year we’re at more than double that for Bloem and Kimberley, with 34.4mm and 19.3mm rain falling in the region respectively.

I don’t know the stats for the rest of the country, but we have seen floods, and then a week later, more floods. We’ve also seen a lot more snow than unusual, including snowfalls in places that almost never see snow.

Revenge of the Jellyfish

In go! magazine, Jorisna Bonthuys reports that there is a jellyfish explosion off the Namibian Coast. Plankton eating Jellyfish cause problems for fishermen – they’re heavy, and when they get scooped up in fishermen’s nets they cause the nets to tear and break. Scottish researchers believe the Revenge of the Jellyfish is due to both overfishing and climate change over the last 50 years.

Hurricane Watch

Right now the US based National Hurricane Centre has issued a hurricane watch**. All eyes are on Tropical Storm Ernesto situated off the southern peninsula of Florida, briskly blowing at 50mph (around 75km/h).

5 Category 5 in 2005

Emily was the first category 5 storm last year, flexing her muscles from July 14. Katrina was born on August 28 (exactly a year ago) so we are now slap bang in the hurricane zone. Rita roared through the Gulf 3 weeks later on September 21, and Wilma almost a month later on October 19. No hurricane has caused as much economic damage as Katrina, and the Atlantic has never recorded more named tropical storms than in 2005. There were 15 hurricanes in last year’s season, 4 (all mentioned above) were category 5.


This year is already much quieter in the Gulf, but that doesn’t mean it will continue to be quiet. The US has been in the grip of a scorching heatwave, and its this heat energy in ocean waters that provides these storms with their tremendous power.

This year there have been some monsters in the Pacific, smashing into China and tearing across Japan and the Philippines.

Will we see a Category 5 storm by the time we’re down to the letter K?
*Average measured over last 30 years
** A hurricane watch implies that hurricane conditions are possible within a day and a half.

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