Tuesday, October 30, 2012

At Her Mercy

Trey Smith

We split atoms. We map the heavens. We build skyscrapers that jut into the sky. We manufacture contraptions that fly far higher than any bird. We channel and harness rivers.

Our continuing technological advances have propelled human society forward. In the western world, life expectancy is ever inching upwards. Yes, we have become masters of this realm.

And yet, for all of our immense knowledge and capabilities, not unlike ancient humankind, we remain at the mercy of Mother Nature. When cataclysmic storms rain down from the heavens, we are reminded just how powerless we truly are. Each hurricane, tsunami, earthquake, flood, tornado, blizzard and ice storm shows us that, in the overall scheme of things, we're little toddlers compared to the forces of nature.

Compared to previous generations about our ONLY advantage is that we've become a tad bit better at predicting climatic events which helps us to better prepare to withstand them. Over the past few days, millions watched as Super storm Sandy marched toward the eastern seaboard of the US. By and large, the predictions of forecasters were on target. The storm made landfall about where they thought it would and the damage wrought was in the ballpark of what they anticipated.

But not all predictions pan out this well. In September, the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center forecast that my corner of the world in southwest Washington was in an area of likely drought development. According to those forecasts, it was supposed to be an exceptionally dry October. This forecast was way, way off.

As it now stands, October will be the third wettest month of this calendar year with rainfall 2.2 times of normal (15+ inches as I type this). It is very difficult to have a drought when there are deep puddles of standing water all around!

I will be very interested to see if the October 18 prediction for November holds true. As you can see below, we again are supposed to be in an area that is abnormally dry for this time of year. Right now, it's hard for me to imagine that this forecast will stand as we have one storm after another lined up over the Pacific Ocean taking aim directly at us.

Whether or not it rains like crazy or the tap is cut off, we can't do a thing to influence the outcome. Mother Nature will do what she will and we must deal with the results. You see, Mother Nature is driving the car; we're mere passengers along for the ride! 

(So, buckle up.)

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