Photo: Hurricane Sandy damage in New Jersey (spleeness)
The year 2012 was one of extreme weather: massive floods in Australia stranded entire towns; a day of torrential rains submerged half the Philippines capital; a super-typhoon ravaged the western Pacific; and a record drought seared more than half the continental United States.
These and other extreme weather events in 2012 were consistent with what most scientists predict will be the “new normal” as the world’s climate continues to warm.
In early December, disaster struck in the Philippines. Typhoon Bopha triggered flash floods and landslides,displacing millions of people. Julius Julian Ribukas survived but much of his family did not.
“My mother and older brother were swept away by flood water,” Ribukas said. “That was the last time I saw them.”
That disaster echoed a similar calamity a month earlier on the other side of the world, when the largest Atlantic hurricane on record swept up the US East Coast, from Florida to Maine.
Hurricane Sandy’s rains and storm surge ravaged New Jersey coastal communities and inundated New York City’s subways, tunnels and streets, causing more than $40 billion in damage.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters that the weather woes are a sign of the times.
“Climate change is a reality,” Cuomo said. “It’s undeniable that the frequency of extreme weather conditions is up and we’re gong to have to learn from that.”