Monday, January 08, 2007

Top Weather Story Of 2006: Nothing

Each year at this time news organizations take a moment to look back at the year’s top news stories, reflect on trend and events, and prepare readers for what may be coming in the new year.

Here in South Florida, the top weather story of 2006 was not what did happen with rain or heat but what didn’t occur: hurricanes.

For the first time in two years a hurricane did not slam into Florida. In fact, the entire hurricane season was something of a dud, with only ten storms forming and nearly all of them staying miles and miles away from the United States.

So, with very little to report on here in South Florida, let met share with you a few weather related stories from 2006 that you may not have read about.

Residents in Thailand discovered that a flood is not always a bad thing. Flooding in Prachaub Khiri Khan-described as the worst in 40 years- uncovered new sections of riverbanks. When the water receded, the riverbanks were full of gold. One family found close to $2,000 worth of nuggets.

In was too little water in England that led to a unique proposal in 2006. The country’s recent drought-the worst since 1995-generated a variety of unusual ideas to make sure residents have enough water. One of the strangest: toe an iceberg from the Arctic to London. An iceberg 1.6 km long, 300 meters wide and 270 meters deep would apparently contain enough water to supply 500,000 British families for a year.

Speaking of icebergs, scientists discovered that some icebergs could sing. German researchers were recording seismic signals to measure earthquakes and tectonic movement in Antarctica when they picked up mysterious acoustic signals. The scientists tracked the signals to a large iceberg that had collided with an underwater peninsula. The “singing” was created by water pushing at high pressure through the crevasses and tunnels in the ice.

Global warming received a lot of attention in 2006 thanks, in large part, to Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” a documentary of the former vice-president’s ongoing commitment to fight climate change.

The Bishop of London is doing his part to improve the climate telling folks in England that air travel for personal vacation is a sin because of the damage it causes to the environment. “Sin is not just a restricted list of moral mistakes,” said the Rt. Rev. Richard Chartres. “It is living a life turned in on itself where people ignore the consequences of their actions.

Meanwhile, the United Nations is examining the role that men and women play in climate change. Some claim that men are bigger contributors to human-caused global warming and women are the ones who suffer the consequences. Others disagree arguing that nature does not discriminate between the sexes. Still, the UN is looking into the issue under the web site “Gender and Climate Change.”

In China, officials decided to create their own kind of climate change, albeit for a short period of time. In April, Beijing was hit with a sandstorm that left the city covered with 300,000 tons of sand and dust. Instead of cleaning up the sand the old fashioned way by sweeping it up, Chinese officials decided to fool with Mother Nature. Technicians fired seven rockets shells containing 163 pieces of “cigarette-like” sticks into the skies resulting in a heavy downpour of rain. The water soon washed the streets clean.

Finally, a story I’m not too happy to report. A Russian woman is suing weather forecasters in the town of Uljanovsk for allegedly destroying her camping trip. It seems the meteorologists predicted sun but, instead, it rained all weekend. Alyona Gabitova wants the forecasters to refund her travel expenses. Let’s hope this last story is not the beginning of a trend in 2007.

There were lots of weather stories in 2006, some you may have heard of like widespread drought and record wildfires and others, like the singing iceberg, that may new to you, but the big story in South Florida was what didn’t happen this hurricane season.

Posted at 8:14 AM