More campuses under extreme weather

Yesterday I wrote about two Canadian campuses endangered by fires. Climate change played some role in intensifying those conflagrations.

Today I offer a related story.  This post will be relatively brief, as I’m with my wife, back in a hospital again.

Let me note a group of American colleges and universities threatened by another type of extreme weather.  These are institutions in southern California, in the way of tropical cyclone/hurricane (now post-tropical cyclone) Hilary.

"The Weather Prediction Center’s updated Excessive Rainfall Outlook for August 19–22, regarding Hurricane Hilary"

“The Weather Prediction Center’s updated Excessive Rainfall Outlook for August 19–22, regarding Hurricane Hilary”

How are those institutions responding? At Inside Higher Ed Doug Lederman notes some examples:

Palomar College, a two-year institution north of San Diego, said that “due to a state of emergency,” it had canceled classes at all of its locations on Monday. Sunday afternoon, California State University, Los Angeles, updated its social media pages to say that it, too, would cancel classes and ask employees to work from home Monday.

Sunday night, the San Diego Community College District said all of its campuses and facilities would be closed today, due to the “lingering effects” of the storm.

San Diego State University said in a communiqué to students and employees that it would shift to virtual instruction and telework for “all employees who are able to do so.”

At the same time, “[o]ther institutions, including Pasadena City College and MiraCosta College, were still planning to operate normally Monday as of late Sunday.”

Hilary also crashed through Mexico, killing at least one person.  I haven’t been able to find any news about impacts on that nation’s universities.

A hurricane striking California is very strange.  The last one was apparently in the 1930s.  Hilary is evidently the result of the strengthening El Nino.

Hurricanes hitting the American southeast and east coast are, alas, not at all unusual.  Apparently a series are forming up in the Caribbean.

To what extent can we understand this extreme weather as the result of climate change?  It seems to be too early to tell.  One scientific group, World Weather Attribution, is still researching and deliberating.  Other opinions vary. Which tells us a few things:

  1. To be cautious about too rapidly blaming dangerous weather on the climate crisis.
  2. To learn about how we respond to these storms and fires, regardless of their causes, so that we can apply the results to future incidents.
  3. To remember that the number and strength of such events is going to increase over time.

All best wishes for the safety of people in Hilary’s path.

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2 Responses to More campuses under extreme weather

  1. Dahn Shaulis says:

    Let’s all pretend we didn’t see it coming.

    • Bryan Alexander says:

      I wonder, Dahn.
      There’s a significant chunk of academia who is very concerned about what they see as populist anti-expert attitudes. They want to protect academics – particularly faculty – and the fruits of their work. I’ve been hoping they’d step up to defend people working on climate change.

      Otherwise, yes, you have me thinking of how many people viewed COVID – inaccurately – as a black swan. If you don’t look, you don’t see, and it’s a shock.

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