Frankenstorm, Climate Change and Another Year Without Halloween


My Street: Snow in October 2011

In late summer 2011 Hurricane Irene left many of us in the Northeast United States without power and “under water” for days. A few weeks later a Nor’easter blew in and many families and communities were flooded and without power again. This was followed a month later by a “freak fall storm” that dumped snow on trees at their peak fall foliage colors, forcing branches to break, power lines to be brought down and power to be cut off yet again – in some communities for more then a week. This particular storm arrived a few days before Halloween 2011, causing “trick or treating” to be cancelled in many New York, New Jersey and Connecticut towns because of unsafe walking conditions and continuing power outages. We in the Northeast are on the verge of this becoming a reality again.

Weather forecasters and state and municipal governments in the New York metropolitan area are already asking residents to “prepare” as

Credit: Repower at Home

Hurricane Sandy and a second storm from the west are threatening to converge a few days prior to Halloween in what is being dubbed by some as the “storm of the century or Frankenstorm” in honor of it’s proximity to Halloween. Both of my children’s schools have “tested their emergency alert” systems and reached out to parents about possible school closings.

Where I grew up in Western Canada Halloween was the date around which snow came and stayed on the ground until spring and here in the Northeastern US, snow has traditionally fallen at least a month past Halloween. Now in Western Canada snow sometimes doesn’t come until December and New York and New Jersey get snow storms in October. Nothing is “normal” anymore about the weather, except for the fact that there is no “normal.”

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Extreme weather events are a fact these days – from droughts and heat waves to flooding and snow storms. Scientists tell us that any one storm isn’t proof of climate change, however, as Dr. Kevin Trenberth and others are now telling us: “The answer to the oft-asked question of whether an event is caused by climate change is that it is the wrong question. ALL weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be….” It is warmer and moister then it used to be primarily because we humans have become the most powerful “climate forcing” agent on the planet, outpacing volcanoes and solar activity through our thoughtless creation of greenhouse gases which we are sending into and thereby altering our atmosphere, most of which have been caused up until now, by our burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas).

Isn’t it time we began to “connect these dots” DO something about what’s causing climate change and DEMAND that others do something too? I think so….So what CAN you do? While for starters and in the short term:

1. Be a Climate Voter. Don’t support candidates that deny climate change or want to keep us addicted to fossil fuels. Check out the League of Conservation voters for more information on who is denying climate change outright and look to candidates website about what they (not others) say about their energy plans and about climate change.

2. Be part of 24 Hours of Reality, The Dirty Weather Report beginning November 14th. Sign up today.

3. Demand that whoever becomes the next president of the United States makes climate change mitigation and adaptation a priority. This means moving away from fossil fuels as part of our energy plan – saying NO to fracking and natural gas, NO to Coal, NO to oil. Ending subsidies to oil and gas companies and saying Yes to helping renewable energy companies – wind, solar and geothermal – grow.

After having our power go out twice last year and at least once almost every year since we have lived in our current home, a month ago we installed a back up generator which will keep some of our power on if our electric grid goes down. Yes and full disclosure it is a gas powered generator – why is it that there are so many options for back up GAS generators but I haven’t been able to find a solar set up – any suggestions? I have reminded my friends and family about our back up generator, in case they need a warm, lighted place to come to in the storm. On many days I feel a bit like “Sarah Connors” from the Terminator movies, although I have definitely much to learn in this regard.

We can’t continue to keep our heads buried in the sand. Not only is “Hurricane Sandy” coming this way, – although hopefully with a much less powerful punch then some are predicting – a changing climate is already here and we in the US need to accept it, “OWN IT” and do something about it while we still can and BEFORE we lock our children and their children into a world of extreme weather events that they can’t change.


Climate Mama

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2 Responses to Frankenstorm, Climate Change and Another Year Without Halloween

  1. Spot on again, Harriet — keep up the good work!

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