The fact that wind turbines are surviving in the hostile waters of the North Sea, the gusty, sun-snow and thunder-pounded Texas panhandle, and riding out earthquakes and tsunamis unscathed, pretty much answers any questions about their durability.

Nevertheless, it’s great to see this helpful fun-fact from Maddowblog:

And then came word that Hurricane Irene’s path would take it right up the coast. What do wind farms do in a hurricane? We’ve all seen that one clip of the wind turbine that spins out of control and destroys itself. I know that was an anomaly, but still, how do they keep those things from buzzing to the moon when a hurricane hits?

I’m thinking, for example, of that off-shore wind farm planned for off Cape Cod.

The answer is that either by automatic means or through manual preventive measures, the blades of the turbine feather.


Not having any experience in propeller-based fields I struggled to think of what properties Farah Fawcett/Scott Baio 80s hairstyles had that would help wind turbines survive high winds. Wrong kind of feather.

The answer is that the blades twist in their sockets so they don’t catch the wind anymore. Combined with a braking sytem, they endure the wind until it returns to a more productive speed.


A quote we seem to be hearing more and more often these days….yet another “most”, “biggest”, or “worst ever”.

As I wrote several days ago, Irene’s rains have become the real problem, creating devastating inland flooding. Scott Mandia explains in his radio interview in another post today.  The comparison that comes to mind is 1998, when Hurricane Mitch made landfall in the Honduras as “only” a category 1 storm, but one of massive size, that dumped huge amounts of precipitation – deadly in a poorly equipped Central America, where ultimately 20,000 thousand people were killed  in floods or mudslides, or simply disappeared.

More at Joe Romm’s Climate Progress:

Some folks in the media and denier-sphere have tried to downplay the severity of Hurricane Irene.  That’s probably because they don’t live in my home town of Middletown, New York, one of the many Hudson Valley & Catskills towns devastated by Irene.  Where I grew up, this was the storm of the century.

The Climate Science Rapid Response team, one of the reality based community’s most effective responses to anti-science quackery in the media, has been ably represented by John Abraham in some high profile venues over the last few months. Now we’re fortunate that the media has found out about another of CSRRT’s lucid luminaries, Meteorologist and co-founder Scott Mandia.

Drawing the obvious conclusion from the past summer’s weather extremes,  —  Michelle Bachmann says Hurricane Irene was a message from God to cut spending.

Washington Monthly:

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann campaigned in Florida yesterday, attending services at a Baptist megachurch near Tampa. Afterwards, the right-wing lawmaker offered a rather unique perspective on the weekend’s weather developments. (via Jay Bookman)

She hailed the tea party as being common-sense Americans who understand government shouldn’t spend more than it takes in, know they’re taxed enough already and want government to abide by the Constitution.

“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.

I realize there are conservatives in evangelical circles with whom this message will resonate, but under sensible political norms, this should probably be a career-killer for a national political figure.

Consider exactly what she’s saying here. A major storm swept through the East coast over the weekend, causing at least 20 deaths across eight states. Michele Bachmann, a member of Congress and a leading presidential candidate, believes the hurricane was a message from God? And that the deadly storm has something to do with Bachmann’s opposition to federal spending? And that God is somehow aligned with Tea Partiers’ agenda?”

Apparently not a career killer in 21st century America.

UPDATE: Bachmann now says drilling in the Everglades would be ok.  Presumably the Grand Canyon as well. What about under the White House –  or Bethlehem?

One of the country’s most respected experts on Atmospheric Science, and an adviser to this series, Dr. Andrew Dessler, has an op-ed today on Governor Rick Perry’s dismissal of climate science.  Read the original here –

Texas Gov. Rick Perry stirred up controversy on the campaign trail recently when he dismissed the problem of climate change and accused scientists of basically making up the problem.

As a born-and-bred Texan, it’s especially disturbing to hear this now, when our state is getting absolutely hammered by heat and drought. I’ve got to wonder how any resident of Texas – and particularly the governor who not so long ago was asking us to pray for rain – can be so cavalier about climate change.

As a climate scientist at Texas A&M University, I can also tell you from the data that the current heat wave and drought in Texas is so bad that calling it “extreme weather” does not do it justice. July was the single hottest month in the observational record, and the 12 months that ended in July were drier than any corresponding period in the record. I know that climate change does not cause any specific weather event. But I also know that humans have warmed the climate over the last century, and that this warming has almost certainly made the heat wave and drought more extreme than it would have otherwise been.

I am not alone in these views. There are dozens of atmospheric scientists at Texas institutions like Rice, the University of Texas, and Texas A&M, and none of them dispute the mainstream scientific view of climate change. This is not surprising, since there are only a handful of atmospheric scientists in the entire world who dispute the essential facts – and their ranks are not increasing, as Gov. Perry claimed.

In  response to the current extreme drought and heat wave in Texas and the southwestern US, Governor Perry issued a proclamation in April, urging Texans to pray for rain,

Read the rest of this entry »

Good Night Irene

August 29, 2011

Photo making the rounds, said to be of New York sunset as Irene clears away.

If you watched Ben Santer “beat the crap” out of Pat Michaels in congressional hearings last year, (above) you probably won’t be surprised at Michael’s latest ill-considered blurt.

Yahoo and Here:

“A day later, the smart money is still riding a very Gloria-like track, but with a cyclone that will be weaker than projected. It is doubtful that Irene will even cough up eight bodies (the number killed by Gloria), though power outages east of where the center makes landfall (probably on Long Island) may be extensive.”

The original piece was published at Forbes, (recently a Mecca for anti-science blathering) -where apparently someone thought the better of it and has changed the passage to:

A day later, the smart money is still riding a very Gloria-like track, but with a cyclone that will be weaker than projected (and hopefully kill fewer than the eight people who died in Gloria) though power outages east of where the center makes landfall (probably on Long Island) may be extensive.

See more of Michaels in his surprisingly candid presentation to the Heartland conference a few years ago. (hint: it really has not been “cooling since 1998”)