EDITORIAL: Stormy weather

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Sep. 3—After Tropical Storm Henri made landfall in Westerly, R.I., Aug. 22, it drifted uncharacteristically west, rather than heading northeast to the ocean as such storms have typically done. Central Park in New York City saw rainfall of 1.94 inches in an hour, the most since rain-per-hour records had been kept starting in 1869.

Last Wednesday night, as the remnants of Hurricane Ida passed by, 3.15 inches fell on Central Park in one hour, demolishing that nine-day-old record.

Yes, folks, we are living in a new reality.

As of Friday, 45 deaths had been attributed to the flash flooding and tornadoes produced by Ida — 25 in New Jersey, 15 in New York, four in Pennsylvania, and one in Connecticut — State Police Sgt. Brian Mohl, who drowned when his car was swept away as he checked flood conditions in Woodbury.

In Louisiana, where Ida caused massive devastation as a Category 4 hurricane, nine deaths were reported.

Both residents of Louisiana and residents in the Northeast were given ample warning of the coming disasters — the Gulf Coast of the arrival of a major hurricane, the Northeastern states the warning of life-threatening flooding.

The hurricane warnings led to massive evacuations. But what are people expected to do about the potential for flooding, particularly when it cannot be pinned down to a precise location until the weather event is hitting?

In New York City, people went about their lives, only to find themselves in dire situations when streets, tunnels, subways and basements rapidly flooded from the unprecedented heavy rain.

Public safety officials must evaluate if new approaches are necessary in this era of extreme weather. In the best-case scenario, the rapidity of the climate change may be slowed over the coming decades. It won't be stopped or reversed.

The Red Cross recommends having a survival kit or "go-bag" ready in case you have to evacuate or hunker down. In the past this sort of thing may have been dismissed as the stuff of survivalists, but given the growing frequency of extreme weather events, it should be considered a staple. You can find links to creating one at redcross.org.

And if you're ever looking for some easy reading, check out the World Disasters Report.

"The number of climate- and weather-related disasters has been increasing since the 1960s, and has risen almost 35% since the 1990s," it reports.

No, it's not your imagination.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.