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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Science Saturday: Tis The Season to Prepare (for Next Hurricane Season)...

Colorado State University Forecasters Predict Active Hurricane Season In 2007

This year, everyone famously got the level of hurricane activity wrong, except for the Colorado State led by William Gray. After the shell-shock of 2004-2005, I was one of the guys thinking he had holes in his head. Now, after 2006's sleeper of a hurricane season (thanks, el Nino!) Colorado State says 2007 should got back to a big, bad wolf hurricane season. You know: Huffing and puffing and blowing the house down.

They expect three storms that are "intense or major hurricanes."

The good news is it won't be quite as bad as 2004-2005, according to Gray. He says it would be statistically unlikely that two years in the near-future hurricane seasons would have the number of U.S. landfalling major hurricanes seen in 2004 and 2005.

We shall see. I have my new hurricane shutters upstairs (I can lock up the upstairs of my house in about 10 minutes -- the shutters downstairs are heavy steel and need to be bolted on). Come next August, I'll buy new batteries for the flashlights and mini-TV, and I'll be as ready as I'll ever be.

The big risk for us here in Palm Beach County, Florida -- unless you live right on the water, and I don't -- is that the 140-mile-long, 45-foot high dike holding back Lake Okeechobee could crumble. It doesn't meet modern dam standards, and scientists warn it might not survive another hurricane.

One group that is really taking global warming and its potential affect on hurricanes seriously is the insurance industry, as The Washington Post reports. You can also read another interesting story on it HERE.

Unfortunately the insurance industry, which has $3 trillion in annual revenues (three times the size of the oil industry), is using global warming as a reason/excuse to jack up rates.

As a result, the LA Times reports:
The companies that provide Americans with their homeowners and auto insurance made a record $44.8-billion profit last year even after accounting for the claims of policyholders wiped out by Hurricane Katrina and the other big storms of 2005, according to the firms' filings with state regulators.

The insurance industry calls these windfall profits -- up 18.7% in one year -- a "fluke." Ha-ha-ha. I need that kind of fluke.

This tends to make everyone suspicious of the insurance industry's motives. Are they just feigning concern about global warming to raise rates and give the boot to policy holders at risk?

I believe the insurance industry is genuinely concerned. But it would help if they were a little more concerned about their customers not being able to meet their insurance bills. My father in Sarasota, Florida has decided to go without insurance after his insurance rates TRIPLED. My mother calls my father "mule-headed." Well, they has an apartment in Maine they can live in if they have to. Many Americans don't have that luxury.

Meanwhile, ice in the Arctic and Antarctic is continuing to melt faster and faster. Half of the world's population lives along the coasts, so while I don't know your particular circumstances, there's a fifty-fifty chance you'll be affected in the next few decades. And once the frozen methane hydrates locked in permafrost and frozen sea bottoms starts to melt -- the most concentrated greenhouse gas around -- well, let's hope it doesn't come to that. The last time it happened, jellyfish ruled the Earth.

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