Natural Disasters

11-year-old designs a better sandbag, named ‘America’s Top Young Scientist’

Publication: NBC News   Date: October 10, 2013   View Article

An 11-year-old boy from Florida has designed a new kind of sandbag to better protect life and property from the ravages of saltwater floods. His invention took top honors at a science fair this week, earning him a $25,000 check and a trip to Costa Rica.

“Living in Florida, I’m keenly aware of hurricanes and saltwater flooding,” the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge grand prize winner Peyton Robertson, who is a sixth grader at the Pine Crest School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., told NBC News.

Warming planet could spawn bigger, badder thunderstorms

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 23, 2013   View Article

As the Earth continues to warm during this century, atmospheric conditions ripe for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes will increase in the U.S., according to a new study.

Given the amount of damage caused by the straight-line winds, golf-ball-sized hail or flash floods associated with any given severe thunderstorm, understanding whether they will increase in frequency or intensity on a warming planet is a key question in climate science.

Colorado floods triggered by convergence of geography and climate, experts say

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 17, 2013   View Article

The torrent of water that gushed over and down the Rocky Mountains late last week resulted from a fateful confluence of geography and weather. While the deluge is unprecedented in the historic record, it may offer a window onto the new normal as the planet continues to warm.

The exact role of global climate change in the deluge is uncertain, but it certainly played a part, according to climate, weather and policy experts.

As of Tuesday, more than 17 inches of rain had fallen since Sept. 12 in Boulder, Colo. The soaking, described as “biblical” by the National Weather Service, left at least eight people dead with hundreds more still missing and rendered untold millions of dollars in property damage.

Satellite’s failure on eve of hurricane season ruffles meteorologist

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 23, 2013   View Article

For the second time in less than a year, the main satellite that keeps an eye on severe weather systems in the eastern half of the United States has malfunctioned, according to government officials. The failure is indicative of the overall aging of the nation’s weather satellite network that could lead to gaps in coverage as the fleet is replaced, an expert said.

Although a backup satellite began operating Thursday, the failure of GOES-East, also known as GOES-13, is “really bad timing because of the upcoming hurricane season, and also we are smack dab in the middle of severe weather season,” Marshall Shepherd, president of the American Meteorological Society, told NBC News.

Tornado-proof homes? Up to 85 percent can be spared, expert says

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 21, 2013   View Article

Homes in the direct path of the monster tornado that roared through Oklahoma City suburbs Monday were all but certain to be destroyed. Yet inexpensive construction techniques could have kept up to 85 percent of the area’s damaged houses standing, according to a civil engineer.

The trick is already common along the hurricane-prone Gulf Coast — the use of clips and straps to keep the walls bolted to the roof and the foundation, explained Andrew Graettinger, a civil engineer at the University of Alabama. These parts cost about $1 each.

Over half of Americans link extreme weather to climate change

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 1, 2013   View Article

Six months after Superstorm Sandy killed dozens of people and caused an estimated $50 billion in damage on the East Coast, a majority — 58 percent — of Americans see a connection between recent changes in the weather and global climate change, according to a new report.

“People are beginning to recognize a pattern of extreme weather across the country and are themselves saying ‘Aha, I wonder if climate change has something to do with that,'” Anthony Leisrowitz , director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, which released the report today, told NBC News.

Into the maelstrom: US coastal population grows as storms intensify

Publication: NBC News   Date: March 25, 2013   View Article

The percentage of the U.S. population living in counties adjacent to coastline has reached nearly 40 percent in recent years, meaning more of us are exposed to extreme — and extremely costly — coastal storms such as Sandy and Isaac, according to a government report released Monday.

These coastal counties account for less than 10 percent of the U.S. land area, excluding Alaska, meaning that this growing population is packing into a finite amount of space, one that’s increasingly threatened by rising seas, storm surge flooding and damaging winds.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach