The video below has meteorologist Paul Douglas talking about the big storm we had in the Twin Cities a few days ago (from his excellent series of climate change and weather related videos). The storm actually followed on a number of days with a fair amount of rain, and up here in the northern part of the Twin Cities, we had a pretty bad blow with high wind gusts and lots of rain the day before. But on the 21st, a storm swept mainly through the Western Suburbs and Minneapolis, but actually a much wider area than that. I drove down to pick up Julia near Roseville yesterday, a couple of days after the storm went through, and had to change directions four times because of roads being closed, three of those due to the storm (one had to do with a stuck semi, I think unrelated). At present over 10,000 Twin Cities people are without power, and we are having a heat wave. At least one major grocery store in the Western Suburbs (probably several but I only have direct knowledge of one) had to throw out huge quantities of food that they could not refrigerate. Many areas of the city of Minneapolis were left essentially un-navigable, due to down trees and power lines. As Paul points out in his video this was roughly like a 20+ mile wide F0 tornado passing through the area. That's a great analogy for Twin Cities people because we have tornadoes here. As a person from the East Coast, I might also say it was roughly like a somewhat diminutive Category I hurricane going through (though the hurricane would have lasted an hour or more rather than 20 minutes or more at that intensity).
Anyway, have a look at the video, which is produced by Weather Nation's Paul Douglas:
Welcome to the new normal.
Photo from the Pioneer Press.
Aw, man, the same thing happened to my parents' car back in '81. Tornado, that time. Also in Minneapolis. Of course, that tornado back in the day lightly smashed one street. This storm appears to have lightly smashed an entire city.
The national power outage graph was especially freaky. "Nice" to know it's not just perception, there actually have been way more power failures due to severe weather over the last decade.
Toward the end of the video the guy mentions the large increase (x10 from 2000 to 2008) in weather-related power grid disruptions. That's something we have all too much experience with in New Hampshire: there have been five major incidents in the last five years (ice storm, winter gale, snow in October, and two tropical storms), including at least three where more than 40% of the state's electric customers lost power. As in the Twin Cities, trees are a major culprit.
Given the cost to repair these outages, and given that as GCC increases so will the occurrence of "freak" storms, I wonder when it will become more economical to bury the power grid underground where it will be far less susceptible to weather related interruptions.
The City of Minneapolis is seriously considering burying its power grid.
We could also solve this problem by cutting down almost every tree in the city. After all, what are trees good for? All they do is drop leaves, ON PURPOSE, everywhere, and sap... awful sticky sap! Who needs that!!!! We should just cut down all the trees.