A year ago I wrote an article discussing Hurricane Harvey. Here we are again watching another 1 in a 1,000 year hurricane disaster unfold. I won’t try to summarize all the other weather disasters that have been unfolding around the world this year. This year is going to be the fourth warmest year on record behind 2016, 2015, and 2017 respectively. Our global climate is obviously in chaos and weather disasters becoming more frequent and severe.
In the days leading up to Hurricane Florence’s landfall meteorologists struggled to find words to describe this storm’s unbelievable potential for destruction. The storm was “biblical”, “unprecedented”, “historical”, “a monster”…yet none of the words really conveyed the reality of risk that few have yet faced. Governor’s of both Carolina’s took the warnings seriously and called for evacuation. Many heeded their warnings but the fact that some people chose to stay and ride out the storm showed a dangerous lack of understanding for the danger they faced. The media’s obsession for making storm disasters into morbid entertainment was in full form when one reporter struggled to stand against wind that seemingly had little affect on nearby pedestrians strolling by. Like passing a highway accident we can’t seem to turn our eyes away.
The fact that Florence didn’t inflict greater wind damage when it made landfall was a fortunate break that had to do with the storm weakening after its final eyewall replacement cycle. By Thursday evening September 13th hurricane reconnaissance indicated that a new eyewall was not likely to be completed; the eastern section of the wall not likely to reform. This prevented Florence from rebuilding the strength of its winds and the storm continued to weaken as it lumbered towards landfall. Instead of a Category 4 hurricane, Florence came ashore a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 90 mph versus 140 or higher.
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