The tropics kept up their general tendencies for the season — maybe moreso.
A celestial event drew applause wherever it was visible. And Il Papa spoke about climate change on his historic visit to the United States.
There was also a car-free day in Paris, where political leaders will meet in November to try to make a deal on curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
Let’s go Around The World.
Northern Hemisphere Tropical Season Continues Its Pattern: Pacific Active
El Niño years normally bring increased tropical activity to the Pacific. This year has not been an exception, especially in the mid-Pacific which has set a record for storms.
The biggest news this week was from Taiwan, where Typhoon Dujuan scored a direct hit on the island, passing about 50 miles south of the capital of Taipei. At least two people died and 300 were injured. Super-Typhoon winds of up to 150 miles per hour did widespread damage, as the storm followed roughly the same path as Super-Typhoon Soudelor which killed at least eight people in August.
Dujuan has now entered a moderately-populated part of China’s coast with 80 mile per hour winds about mid-way between Hong Kong and Shanghai; most of the damage in that country will be from flooding rains.
Tropical Storm Niala is the seventh tropical system in the mid-Pacific this year, setting a new record; the old record was four.
Many of the storms have headed for Hawaii, but except for some heavy rain, the influence has been minimal. Niala was pointed at the Big Island until yesterday, when it veered to the left. It has passed safely south of the island chain and is encountering hostile wind shear, but could continue its travels into the western Pacific. Odds are against the storm reaching Asia, but that remains a possibility.
A new disturbance southeast of Hawaii is given a 90% chance to become a named storm by the National Hurricane Center. That would up the record to eight storms in the central Pacific this year.
In the eastern Pacific, Typhoon Marty, now downgraded to a tropical storm, has stalled within 50 miles of the Mexican coast; it is succumbing to wind shear and weakening. Hurricane warnings have been changed to tropical storm warnings along the coast, and the greatest danger is from flooding rains.
Northern Hemisphere Tropical Season Continues Its Pattern: Atlantic Quiet
Just as El Niño exacerbates the hurricane season in the Pacific, it dampens the formation of systems in the Atlantic. The cause is an increase in the strength of the sub-tropical jet stream, which creates vertical wind shear (change of wind with height) over the Atlantic Basin. This year the wind shear in the western Atlantic has been a hurricane-killer. So much so that the season is now the quietest in over 100 years in terms of hurricanes west of 55 degrees longitude (roughly one-third of the way from the US to Africa). The United States has been buffered by a protective shield of mid-level westerly winds.
Currently, the only activity is Tropical Storm Joaquin, which formed in a window of opportunity northeast of the Bahamas where the wind shear was temporarily light.
Joaquin’s winds are not expected to reach hurricane force, but its moisture could be swept into the mid-Atlantic and northeast by the weekend; flooding rain is possible.
At this time of year, focus shifts to the western Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, where cyclonic development sometimes occurs on old frontal systems which are starting to make their seasonal southward excursions.
The water is still warm enough for a powerful storm to develop quickly if the wind shear subsides.
Revisiting The Supermoon Eclipse
Anyone who had a clear view of the rising Supermoon and subsequent eclipse Sunday night could not have been unimpressed. This was a celestial dance with exquisite choreography and minimal costuming. The players were perfectly cast. On the US east coast, the play went like this:
Act One: A dull, red glow was followed by the emergence of a red moon, 14% larger and 30% brighter than normal due to its proximity to earth.
Act Two: After a two-hour intermission, a curved shadow appeared on the left side of the now-white moon and crept steadily across, until the entire face was covered with a faint red glow.
Act Three: Luna came out the other side and resumed its normal course across the sky as if nothing had ever happened.
If you missed it, get tickets to the next show like this — in 2033.
Pope Francis Speaks About Climate Change
The Pope has entered the climate change debate to the delight of some and the consternation of others. (Full disclosure: I am not a Catholic.) For Il Papa to forcefully enter this discussion, on which doctrine has only a tangential bearing, he must have firm views. Those views, if I might paraphrase, are that global warming is a serious problem, that it is caused by man, and that man must do something about it.
I would give him more credibility than most who speak on the subject because he appears to have no vested interest.
Paris Goes Car-Free For A Day
Mayor Anne Hidalgo organized Paris’s first car-free day on Sunday. This was a response to the day in March when Paris was the most polluted city in the world.
After the Eiffel Tower disappeared in the smog, Hidalgo determined to make a gesture towards clean air. The effort has met with overwhelming acclaim, as the improvement in air quality from this single emission-free day was noticeable across the city.
Speaking Of Climate Change And Paris
An important UN-sponsored conference on climate change will convene in Paris two months from tomorrow. This conference bears the cumbersome name: The twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) and the eleventh session of the conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP).
Since all previous sessions produced only ineffectual bluster and posturing, there needs to be a real change in attitude. I would make the following suggestion:
Rename this The First Serious Meeting of World Leaders to Actually Address Climate Change (AACC).
Falling Into Fall
Thursday begins a new month, one that traditionally sees temperatures plummet in the northern hemisphere. There is a secondary peak of tropical activity in the Atlantic Basin, but elsewhere summer fades fast. What evidence of fall do you see?