Hurricanes – August 26, 2020
This time of year is normally known as peak hurricane season due to wind shear slowing down (this is when winds blow in different directions at different levels of the atmosphere), and less dust coming off of Africa. But scientists forecast that 2020 would be an *especially* active year in the Atlantic, in part due to climate change making storm-forming weather conditions more extreme. While you may think the atmosphere takes a lot of heat, in fact, it is the oceans that take up 90% of the warming on our planet! The Gulf of Mexico currently has some of the warmest waters on the planet, so, while unusual, it’s no surprise that two named storms formed there within a short timespan of each other last week: Tropical Storm Marco, which has since fizzled out, and Hurricane Laura, which has rapidly strengthened into a Category 4 hurricane (with 140 mph maximum sustained winds) earlier today. It is the first major hurricane of the season.
Laura will approach the Gulf Coast on Wednesday evening, bringing with it extreme winds and flash flooding. The National Hurricane Center has stated that “the storm is forecast to bring unsurvivable storm surge and destructive waves.” If you are in the potential impacted area, please check the National Hurricane Center for the latest on conditions: https://www.nhc.noaa.gov . Please listen to the authorities and follow their protocol. Depending on where you are, evacuate and get to a shelter as needed.
In times of pandemics, droughts, wildfires and storms, it’s hard to find hope. It seems like the world is falling apart. Yes, natural hazards such as these happen on our planet without the human touch. But more and more evidence points to climate change as a threat multiplier and amplifier of these natural events. Nature is simply following the laws of physics and responding accordingly to changing (warming) variables. We are seeing this happening right in front of our eyes and the more we try to look away, the harder it becomes to solve the problem. Denying science literally threatens our lives and livelihoods. Let’s not lose hope and continue to work towards change. Yes, it will take radical societal shifts – but our response to COVID-19 shows that we have what it takes to rapidly respond and adapt.