Hurricane (A Last Call Story)
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The fact that climate change has heated up our oceans means Dorian was stronger than it would have been had we not spent the past years dumping carbon pollution into the atmosphere. Sea surface temperatures were more than 1C warmer in the region where Dorian formed and strengthened than they were before we started burning fossil fuels.
We saw that wind damage in the heartbreaking scenes of total devastation that have come in from the Bahamas. We know that the warmer air gets, the more moisture it can hold — and then turn into flooding rains in a storm like this.
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And we know that as climate change has melted glaciers and ice around the world, that water has gone into the oceans. One is that all that warm water allowed for the storm to ramp up quickly, undergoing what is known as rapid intensification as it exploded from a moderate category 2 to extreme category 5 over just two days.
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A recent study has shown that this is getting more common because of climate change, and indeed the past few years have seen many similar examples of this effect in action. Dorian was the fourth category 5 storm in just the last four years. So while climate change is making it so hurricanes can spin up quickly, it may also be slowing down how fast hurricanes move. Instead of moving across a coast and dissipating as normal, in recent years these storms are lingering longer in place, which means more flooding as the water piles up.
Had Dorian been moving at a regular pace of a few miles an hour, the devastation in the Bahamas would have been much less severe.
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But because it sat in place , basically stationary, the damage has been catastrophic. While neither of these studies directly tie that slowdown to climate change, the theory that climate change is changing the jet stream in ways that would lead to stalling storms a phenomenon one of us has researched is growing increasingly convincing. But farther inland, he added, the probability of severe flooding is high if the storm stalls for several days once it makes landfall, as predicted.
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And although people generally prepare for coastal damage, they may underestimate the flooding threat. But Florence could bring conditions that people have not seen in their lifetimes. Climate change is leading to more destructive storms in a number of ways, Dr. Shepherd noted. Other scientific research suggests that Florence is part of the trend of storms affected by climate change.
In North Carolina, more than , students in more than 30 counties had been affected by school closings as of Tuesday evening. Elliot said school districts were trying to balance the potential for hurricane damage with the hardship to parents of having to find day care for their children. Elliot said. In South Carolina, Governor McMaster rescinded mandatory school closings in some counties that were now expected to experience less storm impact. Still, some , students in the state remain affected by the closings.
Companies in the potential path of the hurricane hewed to a playbook established after years of experience with previous storms. Walmart closed dozens of local stores, including several around Myrtle Beach, S. Manufacturing plants in the area suspended operations in response to local evacuation orders. Mercedes-Benz opened a new van factory in Charleston earlier this month, but the company said on Tuesday that it would be shuttered until further notice. Cargill will close its facilities, including sites that handle agricultural products and food, in Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina on Friday.
Volvo, which makes sedans in a plant in Charleston, also shut down operations.
For travelers in certain cities in the Carolinas, Georgia and Virginia, Delta Air Lines is waiving its baggage fees, as well as its usual charge for traveling with pets in the cabin, and its limit on the number of pets. Other storms besides Florence continued to traverse the tropics on Tuesday.
‘Nothing like you’ve ever seen’
Just word of a hurricane some miles south was enough to send hundreds of panicked Puerto Ricans rushing to the store to stock up on water and supplies. Puerto Rico is nine days away from the first anniversary of Hurricane Maria, which crossed the Lesser Antilles before pummeling the island, knocking out power, damaging more than , homes and claiming some 3, lives over the subsequent five months. I bought batteries and water, water, water. Garcia said she was nervous, because her damaged roof still needed several sheets of metal to be fully repaired. She plans to stay in a concrete apartment her son recently built on her property.
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FEMA recently announced that it was prepared for this hurricane season: after getting caught flat-footed in Hurricane Maria, the agency has filled warehouses with nearly 14 million liters of water and 4 million meals. But as the storm approached on Tuesday, officials in North Carolina and Virginia began to move some inmates.
The larger, higher-security prisons, like Central Prison in Raleigh, were not, he said. Buses staffed with corrections officers were already being loaded with prisoners at some locations, Mr. Higgins said. He added that the state system was also working with some county jails in the predicted path of the storm to temporarily house inmates. In Virginia, state officials evacuated the Indian Creek Correctional Center in Chesapeake on Monday night following a mandatory evacuation order by the governor, Ralph Northam.
The prison had about 1, inmates as of June, according to records from the Virginia corrections department. In South Carolina, there are no plans so far for prison evacuations. Officials said it might be safer to shelter in place for the one state prison inside the evacuation zone.
When a hurricane is poised to make landfall and the authorities issue an evacuation order, you may not have much time before you leave to protect your home from the storm — and from flooding. The Food and Drug Administration recommends switching your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest possible settings and moving fridge items to the freezer so they stay cold longer if the power goes out.
Look for any potentially dangerous substances, like bleach, ammonia and drain cleaners. Move electronics, small appliances, portable heating systems and other things with wires to upper levels and high shelves — as far away from water as possible.
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Trim and safely dispose of tree branches, which can fall during hurricane winds or become projectiles if left on the ground. Read more safety tips for after the storm hits. Oppel Jr.