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Just Like I Told Ya – The Intown Atlanta Urban Heat Island

I’m killing two blog birds with one stone here.

I promised a follow up story to the very brief “downtown Atlanta tornado” post that I completed on March 19th last year.

It was something else, let me tell ya. This is the coolest photo that I’ve seen of the event. Vine City got hit first, then the GA Dome, then downtown, then O4W, then Cabbagetown, then it skipped I20 and devoured a nice swath of EATL. We are blessed in Kirkwood that it went south just before it got to Tower Liquors at Memorial and Moreland.

Are ya feelin’ me?

I also promised a follow up story on “Urban Heat Islands” that I promised in my “What’s Hotter Than Georgia Asphalt?” post dated December 2007.

So, lets tie these into a neat package – WIRED magazine’s Science section reported on March 13 that “Urban Sprawl, Climate Change Fueled Atlanta Tornado.”

“…Just a few days earlier, a few mild storms had doused parts of northeast Georgia and Atlanta. Evaporation from that rainfall produced the initial pocket of warm air. As it traveled towards Atlanta, it encountered areas of turbulence formed by the collision of warm- and cold-air fronts that form over the metropolitan area’s concrete-and-soil mosaic.

Atlwreck3These collisions, explained Niyogi and Shepherd (the Purdue and UGA Climatologists who study this phenomena), drove the warm air higher into the atmosphere. When it reached the city’s center, where heat-retaining concrete had produced a typical urban heat island, it rose even higher, turning into a full-fledged thunderstorm. Coincidentally, atmospheric winds were circling strongly that day. They captured the storm and twisted it into a tornado.

“The combination of wet-dry patterns and urban land cover gave these storms an additional boost that may have seen them become supercells,” said Shepherd…”

Make sure that you check out the cool simulation video of the storm in the article!

So, since I started selling commercial roofing in Intown Atlanta back in 1994, I knew about our Urban Heat Island. Some cities are even more pronounced than us.

In 2009, I know this – we do not have any kind of developmental corrective forethought coming our way from our political and civic leaders – you know, white roofs, new kinds of road surfacing, green technologies – so get used to it, keep hunkerin’ down and get your climatology on!

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