Within the next twenty-four hours, the “beast” known as Hurricane Florence will hit the US.
Although Florence has been recently downgraded to a category two hurricane, she is still expected to pack a lethal and extreme punch: some ten million people could be affected by the storm, which experts are warning will bring catastrophic flooding.
Florence is the most dangerous storm to hit the region in decades. Some are even warning of a “perfect storm” as Florence slows down as she hits land, dumping huge amount of water on coastal communities.
North Carolina and Virginia could see up to 30 inches of rain, and even Washington, D.C, could see more nearly a foot of rain too. There could be storm surges of thirteen feet or more, followed by inland flooding over large areas of land.
The warnings are dire: North Carolina Governor, Roy Cooper, has warned “The time to prepare is almost over, Disaster is at the doorstep and it’s coming in.” Cooper has also said that the storm will bring wind and waves that may be “nothing like you’ve ever seen. This storm is a monster. It’s big and it’s vicious. It is an extremely dangerous, life threatening, historic hurricane.”
Others are using hyperbolic language too. As Vice News reported yesterday: “Meteorologists and state officials are running out of adjectives to describe the hurricane bearing down on the Carolina coast. So far, they’ve come up with ‘monster,’ the ‘storm of a lifetime,’ ‘disastrous,’ ‘historic,’ ‘life-threatening’ and, most of all, extremely dangerous.”
A National Weather Service forecaster has outlined how: “This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast. And that’s saying a lot given the impacts we’ve seen from Hurricanes Diana, Hugo, Fran, Bonnie, Floyd and Matthew. I can’t emphasise enough the potential for unbelievable damage from wind, storm surge and inland flooding with this storm.”
FEMA administrator Brock Long has also warned that “The power will be off for weeks. You’re going to be displaced from your home in coastal areas. There will be flooding in the inland areas as well.”
Not only could Florence leave a trail of destruction in her wake, but experts are also warning of a potential environmental disaster in North Carolina, where, as the Guardian reports: “waste from hog manure pits, coal ash dumps and other industrial sites could wash into homes and threaten drinking water supplies.”
North Carolina alone has roughly 2,100 industrial-scale pork farms containing more than 9 million hogs. There are also 16 nuclear reactors in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
In response to the impending storm, Trump said “we have a really big situation confronting us. It is coming farily fast and it is going to be one of the biggest to hit the east coast. Maybe one of the biggest to hit our country”. Trump went on to say “we are ready”.
One way Trump could also be ready is to actually realise what is actually going on. He could give up his climate denial. Florence is made significantly worse by climate change.
Yesterday leading American atmospheric scientists outlined how: “For Hurricane Florence, we present the first advance forecasted attribution statements about the human influence on a tropical cyclone. We find that rainfall will be significantly increased by over 50% in the heaviest precipitating parts of the storm.”
They added that “This increase is substantially larger than expected from thermodynamic considerations alone” and that “we further find that the storm will remain at a high category .. for a longer duration and that the storm is approximately 80 km in diameter larger at landfall because of the human interference in the climate system.”
Writing in the Washington Post, meteorologist Eric Holthaus also argues that “ Quite simply, Hurricane Florence is a storm made worse by climate change. A warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor — producing heavier downpours and providing more energy to hurricanes, boosting their destructive potential. We already have evidence of these trends from around the world. This is no longer just a theory.”
He continued: “Hurricane Florence is one of many signs of climate change, and those who deny it are complicit in the destruction.”
Indeed, a Post editorial this week also outlined how: “Yet again, a massive hurricane feeding off unusually warm ocean water has the potential to stall over heavily populated areas, menacing millions of people …Yet when it comes to extreme weather, Mr. Trump is complicit. He plays down humans’ role in increasing the risks, and he continues to dismantle efforts to address those risks.”
So in short, Florence is the new extreme – made worse by climate change – and Trump is complicit in the disaster that is about to unfold.