Environment & Climate Change

A Tipping Point Crossed: Dawn of the Freak Storms

The annual Atlantic Hurricane Season generally fails to pique the interest of the international community, save for the North and Central American nations which are forced to deal with massive evacuations, grueling emergency patrols and pricey relief funds every year. However, the recent barrage by a seemingly endless succession of frenzied hurricanes have been arousing the interests – and worries – that hundreds of climatologists have suppressed for the last 15 years.

Although officially beginning on June 1st, the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season lashed out early with Tropical Storm Arlene on April 19…marking the third consecutive year in with early storm activity. Despite winds peaking at 50 mph, the cyclone thankfully tracked into the colder currents of the Northern Atlantic before dissipating 2 days later off the coast of Portugal. Europe breathed a sigh of relief, but the tropical storm was only a sign of what was to come.

A series of tropical storms and depressions throughout July and the beginning of August, materializing off the coast of Africa and spiraling towards the Americas. Claiming only several fatalities and causing several hundred thousand dollars in damage, the storms always weakened before zeroing on the Mexican or American mainland…largely die to the buffer of islands which caused the warn-water fuel of hurricanes to depleted rapidly.

Residential damage from a series of Tropical Storms is expected several times annually

It is unfortunate, but the populace of these islands, such as Haiti, tends to bear the brunt of the tropical storms in order to prevent devastation of the mainland behind it! Many American residents didn’t think that the 2017 Hurricane Season would evolve into anything more threatening. How wrong they were!

Yet another tropical wave formed, as expected, in the southeastern Caribbean Sea. The NHC was confident that Tropical Storm Franklin, as it was named, would weaken rapidly in a similar trend to those cyclones before it. Although its force was considerably depleted over the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, the hurricane (in a strange twist of fate) decided to spiral over the Bay of Campache – immediately strengthening thanks to the warm front.

Peaking at winds of 85 mph, the Tropical Storm had now evolved into a Category 1 Hurricane – The first of the season. Making landfall over Lechuguillas, Mexico, Franklin resulted in hundreds of citizens on the eastern Peninsula rushing into an unprepared hiding, in dilapidated storm bunkers. While some areas received nearly a foot of rain, damage was minimal. Mexico indulged itself with a shaky sigh of relief.

#Franklin causa estragos en la Ciudad de Campeche…. (Frankin wreaks havoc in the City of Campeche)

– ClimaSeveroMundial, Mexican News Report

August 2 brought with it the first Hurricane of the season which would impact the United States. Tropical Wave Gert formed off the Western Coast of Africa and tracked into the Southwestern Atlantic as a Tropical Storm. Lucky for Mexico, the storm changed its course Northeastwards towards the Gulf Stream, where it rapidly strengthened into first a Category 1 and then a Category 2 Hurricane. After exiting the warm waters of the Gulf, the Hurricane began rapidly weakening off the coast of Nova Scotia. But the strong rip currents produced resulted in the drowning deaths of two US civilians in Massachusetts and North Carolina.

The country was devastated with the untimely deaths of these two individuals, who succumbed to a hurricane which had not even been declared an official hazard by the government. But August 17th was a significant day for more reasons that one, for it marked the decline of Gert…but the formation of a new threat that would directly ravage the American mainland.

The story of Hurricane Harvey is more riveting that even the unexpected comeback of Tropical Storm Franklin. Once again beginning as a Tropical Wave that materialized off Western Africa – dubbed as a typical Cape Verde cyclone, this storm was battered by massive amounts of wind shear on its way towards the Caribbean Sea. Weakening considerably, and no more than a Tropical Wave, the remnants of Hurricane Harvey managed to reach the fateful Bay of Campeche yet again…

Hurricane Harvey was unfortunately resurrected with a vengeance in the Bay of Campeche

It really seems as if this Bay is the giver of life to all failed Tropical Storms, doesn’t it? However, the role of this Bay in the life of Harvey would prove to be a lot more destructive than Franklin!

The favorable environmental conditions enabled a resurgence in storm intensity, rapidly re-entering designation as a Tropical Depression, and then a Tropical Storm by August 23rd. In a mere six hours, Tropical Depression Harvey became a full-fledged, whopping Category 4 Hurricane.

Thanks a lot, Campache.

The Hurricane attained its max speed of 130 mph as it spun across Port O’Connor, Texas and into the American Mainland. The first hurricane to do so all season. As the storm moved into Texas, surrounding cities such as Rockport and Fulton bore most of the damage. Buildings were destroyed, trees were downed, debris lined the roads, vehicles were tossed and telephones were snapped in what became the most destructive hurricane to strike the US since 2005. Northwards up in Houston, floodwater submerged several dozen feet of the area, forcing locals up on their roofs and attics, overwhelming emergency services and causing a massive breakdown in telecommunications.

HISTORIC rainfall in Houston, and all over Texas. Floods are unprecedented, and more rain coming. Spirit of the people is incredible.Thanks!

– President Trump on Harvey, in one of his eternally wise tweets

Harvey wasn’t content taking the lives of at least 30 individuals due to flooding and resulting fires. The hurricane spawned several tornadoes in the Houston area as well! Harvey itself dissipated on September 1st, but its effects were longstanding. Damage done by the Hurricane projects to be 190 billion dollars – making it the costliest natural disaster in US history! Not only was it the first major hurricane to strike the US since 2005, but it also ended the drought which had plagued Texas. In addition, it was the first Hurricane to make landfall in Texas since 1961, and the wettest continental storm to ever strike the United States!

You’d think that all the records set by Hurricane Harvey would be enough to fulfill the thirst of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season. But it turns out that there were some more surprises making their way diligently across the Atlantic.

Tropical Storm Irma was another Cape Verde hurricane which underwent extraordinary intensification in a mere 12 hours on August 31st – from an original wind-speed of 70 mph to high-end hurricane raging at 115 mph. By September 4th, the Hurricane had reached designation as another Category 4 Hurricane. Hurricane Warnings were issued for the Leewards and Caribbean Islands, as the storm reached Category 5 designation with maximum wind speeds of 185 mph. Although losing strength and getting downgraded to a Category 4 after pounding Cuba, Irma is expected to strengthen once again.

Even the most secure and sturdiest of cranes are being destroyed in wake of Irma

It claimed more than 20 lives in Antigua & Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico among other nations. Devastating the Central American islands, the storm continued towards the American Mainland…where it touched down in the Florida Keys early in the morning of September 10. The first storm of its size to hit Florida since the early 1920s, the path of the storm is expected to traverse into Orlanda, and potentially as far into Georgia.

Massive evacuations have caused interstate routes to be jam-packed in wake of the storm, a similar scene to the panic when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in August 2005. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is running its coffers dry trying to organize several thousand American troops into an evacuation plan for the state, and providing necessities for the Floridian masses who have found themselves homeless. At least 32 people have died as a result of Irma, and the government is doing its best to persuade those adamant, foolishly-cheery people unwilling to leave their homes – that Irma will swallow them as easily as it ripped apart a series of construction canes in the afternoon of September 10th.

The recovery to this event is going to last many years to be able to help Texas and the people impacted by this event achieve a new normal.

– William Long, Administrator of FEMA

After battering Jacksonville and Charleston in the Northeast of Florida, Irma has set its sights on Georgia now. At least 10 billion dollars in damage has already been sustained, and while it has weakened, it maintains designation as a Category 1. Meanwhile against the onslaught, the Caribbean Islands and the United States must prepare themselves for yet another series of hurricanes – trailing in the path of Irma.

Hurricane Jose is barely a week behind its older sister – and already a Category 2 as it barrels across the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. Puerto Rico and Haiti, most significantly, don’t look like they will manage to sustain themselves against another tropical depression – forget a another hurricane! Meteorologists are predicting, however, that Jose will strike the US East Coast by next week.

Perhaps the most frightening characteristic of Jose is how it is already a full-blown hurricane – even Irma was still a Tropical Storm while she was in the mid-Atlantic…and Central American locals most definitely are not in the mood for a brand new storm to set a bunch of whopping world records barely a week after their lives were literally torn apart!

3 Atlantic Hurricanes back-to-back in one of the most violent storm seasons ever recorded

It is the first time in seven years that three hurricanes have been churning so close to each other. It is rarer still that each of these hurricanes was formed off the same Cape Verde coastline by Africa! And it is even rarer that all three storms are hurricanes of such potent destruction! The churning of Hurricane Katia two days ago in Mexico has brought the chance of a tsunami into play now. With the global community anxiously glued to their television screens as millions of Mexican, American and Central Americans are ruined in the worst series of freak storms the world has ever seen, no one can coherently explain what is causing this unprecedented level of environmental terror.

Could it possibly be the effects of global warming catching up with us? Tonnes of carbon dioxide heating up the oceans – and providing the warm fronts that hurricanes need in order to sustain themselves? Seems a little too coincidental, no? These are hurricanes which are sucking up water from the Atlantic Shoreline and spewing it all out in torrential floods, inundating whole towns.

But if this is true, could these hurricanes be a sign of what is to come? Unexpected tsunamis in mundane parts of the world, tornadoes where people least expect them. If so, how far really are sci-fi movies such as The Day After Tomorrow from reality?

1 comment on “A Tipping Point Crossed: Dawn of the Freak Storms

  1. George Moncaster

    Great article, well written and informative! Pleasure to read.


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