Friday, September 02, 2005

Hot Water and Sandstorms

That's all hurricanes are.

Picture the Atlantic ocean at the equator. Picture a grid over the ocean - it doesn't matter what shape or size the cells are. What matters is that each of those cells is going to get blistering hot under the equatorial sun. And there's nowhere for that heat to go until a sandstorm sweeps out of Africa over that cell.

Heat becomes motion. The storm absorbs the water's heat and turns it into wind power. The more heat, the more powerful the winds become.

I'm always telling newcomers who've moved to the South that "no hurricanes came near us this year" is Very Bad News. It only means that the ocean water is going to be hotter and have more energy stored up for the next hurricane season.

Every year the equatorial Atlantic and the Gulf are going to heat up. Every year the sandstorms from the Sahara are going to sweep across Africa out into the Atlantic, gain strength from the heat stored in the hot ocean and sweep west until they hit land. The first ones will always angle low, with the subsequent ones angling higher. If there has been no hurricane over Spot X on the ocean, it's going to be chock full of energy to give to the next one that comes along. It's been going on for 70 millions years, since the Age of the Dinosaurs, and isn't going to stop until the North Atlantic current stops from major continental restructuring. Or Africa freezes solid.

It could be worse. Thank goodness West Africa doesn't have earthquakes. Western South America does have earthquakes, which means that in addition to the same problems the Gulf Coast has with hurricanes (they call them typhoons) the Pacific equator also has tidal waves.

And it's not the worst hurricane that ever hit the Gulf Coast. In prehistoric times Mobile was hit by super-hurricanes that scoured the earth flat for miles inland. But Goddess knows it was bad enough.

Every year the global temperature is getting hotter. Every year there's going to be more building and less respect for nature along the Gulf Coast, and more damage.

Until global temperatures decrease and more respect, better planning and a lot more money is devoted to preventative measures and disaster planning, it's going to get worse. That's not a thought I want to think, but it's no good trying not to think it.

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