Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Climate Change Strikes Cascadia

Cascadians have generally been lucky when it comes to disastrous weather. Although the '85 Helen's eruption has remained paramount in collective memory (not to mention the constant doomsday earthquake predictions) recent years have kept us safe from the calamities befalling other parts of the US (ie. forest fires, tornados, hurricanes, and snowstorms). Well, it seems our luck has finally run dry. This week devastating winds (up to 90 mph) and rain (up to 11in) wreaked havoc on Southern Washington and Northern Oregon. The storm has left 5 people dead, at least 150 stranded, many more homeless, and over 100,000 without power. To make matters worse a twenty-mile section of I-5 between Centralia and Chehalis, Washington was completely flooded, halting the main transportation route between Vancouver, BC and Porland, OR. It is estimated that $4 million are being lost to businesses every day due to the obstruction and to raise the highway could cost upwards of $400 million. Even optimists that usually look to storms like these for snow in the mountains were disappointed since the warm weather meant rain and winds destroyed the already limited snow-pack. Sadly, no matter what our future response to global climate change may be, our past irresponsibility means that this is probably not the last of these type of disasters.

See also:
[The Seattle P-I]
[The Oregonian]
[BBC News]

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