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We Hear Them And Often Accept Them As Fact…But Are They True? What Are A Few Myths About Weather That We All Seem To Believe?

August 7, 2011

1. This summer is much hotter than normal.

It feels hot for a reason, and not just in the United States. Last month’s global average land surface temperature was the fourth warmest on record.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 49 states — all except Delaware — have had record highs this summer. This summer, much of the East Coast has suffered through a heat wave that pushed temperatures into triple digits. This is however, not an aberration. Globally, June was the 316th month in a row that had a higher temperature than the 20th century average. So, while it is indeed much hotter than it used to be, we may be witnessing a new normal in heat and other extreme weather.

2. “Hundred year” weather events happen only once every 100 years.

Hundred-year weather events no longer live up to their name.

In 2005, for instance, a devastating “once a century” drought hit the Amazon, only to be followed by another in 2010. Globally, previously rare weather events have been occurring with startling frequency. Consider the massive floods that inundated a fifth of Pakistan last year and submerged eastern Australia and the American Midwest this year. It’s time for meteorologists to come up with a new, more accurate term. Of course, what scientists actually mean by “one in 100 years” is not that a major flood, drought or hurricane will strike a given place only once a century, but rather that there is a 1 percent chance of such an event in any given year. Either way, the fact that what were once considered hundred-year events seem to be happening more often is consistent with climate models projecting that rising global average temperatures will lead to more frequent and extreme weather.

3.  Red sky at morning, sailor’s take warning; red sky at night, sailor’s delight.

The rhyme works in most of the United States where storms generally move from west to east.

The “red”, which refers to the sky overhead, is caused by the sunlight reflecting off clouds. For a red sky in the morning, the eastern horizon has to be clear while clouds are moving in from the west. Since most storms come from the west, a storm is probably heading your direction. For a red sky at night, clouds have to have moved away from the western horizon – heading east. With the storm moving east, clear skies are coming your way.

4. Extreme droughts and extreme floods can’t both be due to climate change.

It seems counterintuitive that climate change could be responsible for both withering droughts and devastating floods. Yet it can.

Scientists have found that climate change can trigger periods of intense rainfall followed by long spells of dry weather. This combination of severe rainstorms and droughts, in turn, can lead to more flooding, landslides, soil erosion and other disasters. There are signs in some places that this may already be underway.

What Should You Be Doing?

The key thing to remember in all of these myths/facts is that weather is indeed changing.  You need to be prepared for emergencies and disasters that are likely to befall you in the region you live in….this is at work AND at home.  Don’t be passive…get engaged!  Get disaster ready for your area!

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