Saturday, August 18, 2007

Global Warming Being Blamed For Hurricane Dean

I'm keeping a close eye on Hurricane Dean, because it could make landfall in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas where I grew up and where family members still live.

But regardless of its path, I'm waiting to see how some will exploit the damage and loss of life caused by this storm for their own political purposes and causes, like was done for Hurricane Katrina (D-Louisiana).

In some ways, it has begun, as P.J. Gladnick of points out (Global Warming Already Cited in Hurricane Dean Story).

What the "Sky is Falling" Chicken Little crowd ignores is the history of intense hurricanes extends further back than five years ago. What about Hurricane Camille, which struck southern Mississippi (the same area Katrina hit in 2005) with 200 mile per hour winds? That was in 1969. Six years later, magazine stories were being published about global cooling and the coming ice age.
South Texas has been no stranger to strong hurricanes. There was the Labor Day 1933 hurricane. 1933 was the second strongest season next to 2005, were they talking about man-made global warming then?

Winds and waves from Hurricane Allen last Purdy's Motel and fishing pier, near the Queen Isabella Causeway in Pt. Isabel, TX. Both the building pictured here and pier were later destroyed by the storm.

Which brings us to August 1980, when Hurricane Allen hit the area. Allen was the strongest Atlantic hurricane since Camille, with winds once measured at 190 miles. It set a record for the longest time a hurricane stayed at Category 5 (three days). It had a slightly lower barometric pressure than Hurricane Katrina. Those of us who lived in the Rio Grande Valley woke up early the morning of August 9, 1980 to wind and rain and reports of tornadoes hitting areas in Brownsville, while we held our breath for the stronger winds to hit. Though the destruction was great, it was not as bad as first feared. Allen came ashore at a wildlife refuge in eastern Cameron County and lumbered up to the Willacy/Kenedy County border, destroying the tiny fishing village of Port Mansfield. Thankfully, no lives were lost in the lower Rio Grande Valley area.

Other Category 5 hurricanes had threatened those of us living in South Texas. Anita in August/September 1977 and Gilbert in 1988. However, they hit about 100 miles south of Brownsville, near La Pesca, Mexico. So where was all the talk about Global Warming in 1977, 1980 and 1988?

It would be great if there was more facts and historical perspective in reporting on hurricanes and other storms, instead of the politicization and global warming fearmongering we've seen lately.

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