Paleotempestology

Sitting in the small Vietnamese restaurant in Western Massachusetts an ominous dark cloud slowly delivered one of those marvelous downpours that sometimes end hot summer days. For the woman at the next table the sky was bright one moment; the next the windows were sheeted with water. A young man walked across the square, hood up, jacket unbuttoned, tee shirt glued to his chest.

The woman spoke of global warming to her companions: a friend and a husband. She mentioned that she thought such storms were becoming more common. She mentioned hurricanes. His counter point was that we don’t know much about hurricanes, maybe a few decades. No doubt this was only idle conversation; but I quietly leaned across my table and whispered to my wife. “This is important. Somebody is wrong on the Internet!”

I’ve been haunted by this conversation. He’s wrong. She’s right.

Finally the ghost of the stairwell was sufficiently frustrated to manifest himself, at least in virtual form. Fresh off the presses “Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate” – From the Brochure: “More frequent and intense heavy downpours and higher proportion of total rainfall in heavy precipitation events.” – “Very Likely.” From volume 3, chapter 2 of the final report: “Paleotempestology is an emerging field of science that attempts to reconstruct past tropical cyclone activity using geological proxy evidence and historical documents.”

Ah, if only. I could have leaned over and said “Paleotempestology!” Well, as we like to say around my house “Oh, tell it to the blog!”

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