Another Hot Summer

September 21, 2011

It’s official:  2011 is the second hottest summer on record (for the Washington, D.C. area at any rate).

According to The Washington Post, Summer 2011 trails only Summer 2010 in the record books for heat.  Embedded in this data is the fact that July 2011, at 61.43 degrees Farenheit,  was the seventh hottest July for the combined global land and ocean average surface temperature.  This reflects a rise of 1.03 degrees Farenheit above the 20th century average as reported by the National Climatic Data Center.  The Washington Post reported that July 2011 was THE hottest on record in Washington, D.C.

The Washington, D.C. data is included here specifically as politicians queuing up for a run at the Presidency debate the science behind climate change and the human culpability for such change.  In addition to rising temperatures, the droughts, wildfires, floods, and catastrophic weather patterns experienced by many around the world would appear to provide ample evidence of the consequences of human behaviour as summarized by The Union of Concerned Scientists.

Hurricane Irene

September 5, 2011

Sign indicating art gallery closure due to Hurricane Irene

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Hurricane Irene arrived in Maryland on August 27, 2011.

Fells Point, Maryland is near the Inner Harbour area of Baltimore City and as such lies at sea level and has the harbour at its front door.  Several years ago when Hurricane Isabel hit, Fells Point flooded.

People filling sandbags in Fells Point prior to Irene

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

In anticipation of the arrival of Irene, home, store, and restaurant owners, and others methodically prepared to protect their property.

Basement doors covered and bagged in Fells Point prior to Irene

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Several businesses and streets in Fells Point closed around 2:00 pm on Saturday in anticipation of what was being referred to as “a historic storm” by President Obama and many others.

Rain splatter on windshield as Irene blows in

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

And by late Saturday afternoon the wind and rain had started.

Globally, the damage in Maryland certainly appeared to be less than expected, and not nearly what was experienced in North Carolina and Vermont.  Fells Point did not flood, for example.  However, locally, the story was quite different.  Many in Maryland did not have power until about a week after the storm.

Tree laying on Thames Street Pavilion in Fells Point

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Random trees had been downed throughout Baltimore city bringing with them the power lines…

Split tree in Wyman Park after Irene

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Split tree in front of house after Irene

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

…and some of the trees appeared to have narrowly missed creating a great deal more damage. 

Few cars on Coastal Highway in Ocean City

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

As a result of  storm-caused power outages, I did not have to go to work on Monday, and so took a drive to Ocean City, MD.  Not being much of a beach person, I can only guess what the traffic should have been on the last Monday before Labour Day.  My limited experience tells me that Coastal Highway is generally packed on any given day during the summer.  Not so on this bright, blue, sunny Monday.

Empty parking lot at Ocean City hotel

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Which makes sense given that the city was evacuated, and there seemed to be not that many people around to be out and about a day after the storm…

Ocean City Hotel welcoming guests after Irene

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

…which the local motels would like to change.

Bahama Mamas' comment on Hurricane Irene

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Other than the scarcity of people, it was difficult to tell that a hurricane had just passed through.  (The lower potion of Ocean City evidently did sustain some damage, but I did not go there.)  Hindsight is, of course, 20/20 and hubris can be dangerous.  It is important to note that Hurricane Irene wreaked havoc up and down the East Coast and in several areas well inland-especially in New England.  Well over a score of deaths were attributed to the storm.  And yet, the consensus seems to be that Irene was not as devastating as had been advertised and that the storm had been “overhyped”.  As a result, the manner in which the media covered the storm came under scrutiny.

In “Bowling for Columbine“, Michael Moore discusses a “culture of fear” that is perpetuated by an “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality.  We do live in a Post-Modern era in which we are subject to being inundated with information 24/7 as long as we stay plugged in.  And if the decision is made to watch The Weather Channel (for example) continually, then one would do well to get used to the hyperbole that comes with such coverage.

And while on that subject, it must be remembered that we are in control of the sources used for news and that one of the advantages of the Post-Modern era is the number of available choices.  As long as we have electricity or the proper batteries, that is. 

Condolences to those who suffered losses due to Hurricane Irene.  

Take care.