Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

WEB EXTRA: Local scientists discuss D.C. weather patterns

Scientists addressed a small audience of D.C. residents at the Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences Friday night to make them aware of global weather patterns that affect the District.

Local NBC 4 meteorologist Chuck Bell said one of the biggest challenges in predicting D.C.’s weather, as opposed to other areas, is the Atlantic Ocean’s effect on the climate. He added that D.C. may not be prepared for harsher weather due to the effects of global warming, particularly since the city can barely handle a snowstorm.

“In D.C. our weather is pretty mild because we get moisture from the Gulf, and the Appalachian Mountains block cold air,” Bell said. “The old joke is that D.C.’s snow removal plan is spring.”

Both Bell and Antonio Busalacchi, a meteorology professor at the University of Maryland, agreed that there is still a lot of uncertainty as to what effects global warming will have on the region.

Although the D.C. area has the Outer Banks, a string of islands off the East Coast, as a natural barrier from strong hurricanes, the warming climate may lead to warmer waters off the coast that could facilitate strong hurricanes in the area, the experts said.

The Baltimore area will also have to deal with the threat of rising sea levels, Busalucchi said.

This year’s hurricanes that devastated the Gulf Coast could have been directly due to global warming or could have just been coincidental, Busalacchi said. He added that hurricanes are the most intense over warm water, and the waters in the Gulf of Mexico became some of the warmest in the world this summer.

Warmer water temperatures also brought the first hurricane in the South Atlantic region near Brazil in March 2004, a phenomenon meteorologists previously thought was impossible.

Busalacchi said people shouldn’t expect the damaging hurricanes to end after this season, and studies predict that over the next several years there will be more category 4 or 5 storms than ever before.

Both speakers addressed the issue of advances being made in the ability to predict the global weather and the effects of global warming. But Bell said there is still much uncertainty about how global warming will take its toll on the world.

Bell said, “There are enough questions that everyone will be able to argue their side forever.”

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