After two years of below normal activity during the Atlantic hurricane season, 2008 is turning out to be just as stormy as early forecasts predicted -- and then some. July was the third most active July since 1886, and August is shaping up as no slouch either. On Aug. 5, the Colorado State University hurricane-predicting team upgraded its early forecast of an above-average season in response to the "intense start" in July, calling for 17 storms, nine hurricanes, and five major hurricanes. And that was before Tropical Storm Fay treated Florida like its own private rumpus room.
Now comes Hurricane Gustav, currently headed for Haiti and likely on its way into the Gulf of Mexico, just in time, (as noted by a DailyKos diarist) for the Republican convention next week.
And while it is never a smart idea to cite one devastating hurricane, or even one season of multiple extreme climate events, as proof that global warming is messing up the weather, the timing of Gustav, almost exactly three years to the day after Hurricane Katrina rampaged its way into New Orleans, is still evocative. All those "drill here, drill now, pay less" Republican offshore zombies might be wise to cross their fingers and pray that the Gulf of Mexico's offshore platforms weather the storm unscathed.
"The entire Gulf is under the gun from Gustav,"' said Jim Rouiller, a senior energy meteorologist with Planalytics Inc., a forecaster based in Wayne, Pennsylvania, whose clients include oil companies. "Gustav represents a real and potentially dangerous storm for the entire Gulf energy production region."
Gustav has the potential to grow from Category 1 into a Category 4 hurricane with winds of at least 131 miles per hour by the time it enters the Gulf, home to about one-fifth of all U.S. oil production, Rouiller said.