June 29, 2013 3:29 pm

This Sunday’s Forecast – Stormy Weather at StarTalk Live

Backstage photo of StarTalk Live Storms of Our Century

Backstage at The Bell House for “Storms of our Century”: Questlove, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Dr. Adam Sobel, Eugene Mirman, Michael Showalter

In an act of serendipity that could make The Weather Channel green with envy, StarTalk Live visited the Bell House in Brooklyn, NY on February 7th, 2013 – the night before Winter Storm Nemo hit the northeast. The evening’s subject: Storms of Our Century.

Although, after listening to Dr. Adam Sobel tell Neil deGrasse Tyson about the advances and accuracy of modern weather forecasting, maybe it wasn’t such a coincidence after all. Adam, who is a professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University and affiliated with the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, was on hand to teach us all about severe weather like tornadoes and hurricanes.

Also on the stage that night were comic co-host Eugene Mirman, comedian Michael Showalter, and musician Questlove, one of the co-founders of The Roots, the in-house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

In Part 1 of Storms of Our Century, the StarTalk Live crew focused on hurricanes, although we did also learn that the U.S. leads the world in tornadoes. Adam explained how the Coriolis force, the jet stream, asymmetrical temperatures and tides all interact to create tropical cyclones, also called hurricanes. (Summed up, in his own inimitable way, by Eugene as, “The jet stream is the chaperone of weather at the Junior High dance of Climate Science.”)

One of the more interesting discussions in Part 1 concerns stopping or redirecting hurricanes. From hurricanes that simply shut themselves off to using nuclear bombs to shut them down to the ethics and legal implications of diverting a hurricane, it was a bit surreal, made all the more so by concern over the impending storm, which ended up being called “The Blizzard of 2013.”

Adam and Neil also ran down some of the most infamous storms in history, including “The Storm of 1609” (on which Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest, was based), the great Hurricane of 1900 that erased the city of Galveston, Texas and was the deadliest hurricane in US history, the Hurricane of 1938 (known as “The Long Island Express”), Hurricane Grace (aka, The Perfect Storm), Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.

This was also the StarTalk Live where Neil whipped up “The Stormy Weather” as the drink of the night. He describes it in the episode, but for more detail and an eyewitness account of the experience, watch the YouTube video below.

You can listen to Part 1 of Storms of Our Century tomorrow night at 7:00 PM ET on our website, iTunes, Stitcher, and more. Part 2 will be available next Sunday night.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!

–Jeffrey Simons


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