Friday, August 24, 2007

What Hurricane Dean Tells Us

The hurricane prognosticators look like they've probably gotten it wrong again this year. Once again, they said we'd have a historically high number of storms this season, but that now appears unlikely.

But Hurricane Dean does tell us something. It shows that when a tropical system of just about any size hits the Gulf of Mexico, it's going to become a superstorm. We saw that in 2005 with Katrina, Rita and Wilma (all became Cat 5's). Then, in 2006, no storms hit the Gulf--a lucky reprieve. So far, 2007 has been pretty quiet in the Atlantic, but when Dean hit the extraordinarily warm waters of the Gulf, it, too, quickly turned into a monster storm.

Dean went off to Mexico and Belize, but our luck won't hold out much longer. If you were to believe the Corps of Engineers, New Orleans is now protected from a Cat 3 storm (don't believe it though). A lot of good that will do there--or in Houston, Galveston, Corpus Christi, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Mobile or points between when a Cat 5--inevitably--slams ashore.

We don't think global warming causes more hurricanes. The evidence is pretty plain, however, that it does cause stronger hurricanes, and that's a problem.

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