Warming Atlantic Linked To Hurricane Igor Devastation in Newfoundland

Much of the east coast of Newfoundland was devastated by Hurricane Igor on Tuesday. Roads have been washed out, electricity is gone, communities have been cut off from help, and one man has been washed out to sea. By now, at least 30 communities have declared a state of emergency.

The news coverage that I heard yesterday had locals emphasizing the unusual strength of Igor. The town clerk from Bonavista interviewed on As It Happens on CBC radio said he’d never seen winds that strong or rainfall that heavy in his lifetime – and Bonavista is on a windy, wet peninsula! Sam Synard, the Mayor of Marystown was quoted in The Star as saying:

We’ve never seen such a violent storm before.” Synard reported that more than 200 millimetres of rain was dumped in 20 hours, “and very few, if any communities in the country, could deal with that amount of rainfall.”

My heart goes out to Newfoundlanders – “The Rock” is one of my favourite places on earth. The header photo on my blog was taken during a visit last September.  I wish the good people of Newfoundland Godspeed in their recovery from this devastation.

Unfortunately, the warming of the atmosphere and the resulting warming of the ocean which has happened as a result of our unbridled burning of fossil fuels in the last century is making severe weather events like this more and more frequent. The economic as well as the human toll will only increase (the Newfoundland government is predicting it will take at least $100 million to repair the damage from this storm). Recent research has shown that we are experiencing more storms with higher wind speeds, and these storms are more destructive, last longer and make landfall more frequently than in the past. This is our new reality, in Canada and around the globe, as the Arctic ice and the permafrost melt, and the oceans get warmer.  We are starting to reap the destruction that we have sown, and it’s not going to be pleasant.

It’s time for all of us to demand that our governments, particularly at the federal level, start addressing this issue in more ways that just preserving Canada’s claim to the Arctic so we can dig up more oil and gas! For ways to do this, check out Cheryl McNamara’s recent post on Bill C311 – the Climate Accountability Act, or go to my “Action not Apathy” page.

More links:

National Geographic: Is Global Warming Making Hurricanes Worse?

Union of Concerned Scientists: Hurricanes and Climate Change

Popular Science: Hurricane, Climate Change Link Explained

Real Climate: Hurricanes and Climate Change – Is There A Connection?

Canada, Russia expected to win Arctic claims at UN

The following photos were taken around Marystown, on the Burin Peninsula, by Andrew Lundrigan, and posted on the FB page “Hurricane Igor Hits Marystown”