Tag Archives: 2011 Hurricane Season

KATIA is Number Eleven

State and local emergency management agencies with support from FEMA are busy carrying out response and damage assessment activities in countless communities from South Carolina to Maine impacted by tropical cyclone IRENE, while in other communities in Virgina and Maryland others are still quantifying damages caused by the  5.8 magnitude earthquake that hit near Richmond, Virgina one week ago.

Satellite image for the aviation industry showing most of the Atlantic basin on 30 August 2011

Initial reports regarding IRENE show 40 deaths, millions without power, and at least $7.0 billion in structural damages to buildings and infrastructure, marking the eleventh time so far in 2011 that the USA has had damage from a natural hazards reaching $1.0 billion or more.

Map showing location near Richmond, Virginia where more than 20 earthquakes have hit since 23 August 2011 when there was a 5.8 magnitude shock

I don’t have the most recent information on damage caused by the magnitude 5.8 earthquake that hit near Richmond, Virginia on 23 August 2011, but data from the USGS shows twenty new earthquakes including a 4.3 and a 4.8 magnitude shocks, have hit the same location within a few kilometers of each other over the last seven days. While most of these earthquakes have been minor, they have all been rather shallow with epicenters occurring at depths ranging from 7.2 km to 0.1 km, which makes them more damaging than deep seismic shocks.

Impacts by these recent hazards and others that have hit numerous communities around the country since January 1 illustrate the high vulnerability of the USA to a wide range of natural hazards, hence the need to be prepared and to practice MITIGATION.

While initial response efforts in the many communities  impacted by IRENE continue, and recovery activities begin to get under way, we are reminded that it is what we do on a continuous basis BEFORE there is any impact by a natural hazard, which gives us the best chance of reducing the potential for damage to buildings and infrastructure and for protecting life, property and the various functions of human activity. This is what we call the practice of MITIGATION!

Color-enhanced infrared GOES satellite image showing Tropical Storm KATIA and prevailing weather patterns over the Atlantic Basin on 30 August 2011

Being in the midst of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season we will also do well to remain alert, be prepared and pay attention at what is constantly happening in the tropics in the Atlantic basin at-large or in any of the sub-basins such as the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Today on 30 August 2011 we see the eleventh-named tropical cyclone of the season, Tropical Storm KATIA, active and moving west by northwest in ‘hurricane alley’. which is showing signs of getting better organized and with a good chance of developing further perhaps even becoming a hurricane within the next 24-48 hours, as the system enters a more favorable environment of warmer surface waters and low wind shear in the atmosphere. Concurrently there is also a large cell of disturbed, stormy weather in the northwestern Caribbean between Honduras, Cuba and the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico that is showing some potential for further development.

Projected track for Tropical Storm KATIA developed by the U.S. Navy Research Laboratory based on data from NOAA

As we monitor KATIA and other potential cyclones in the Atlantic and Caribbean, and ponder the tremendous challenge ahead for so many impacted by IRENE and recent earthquakes and other natural hazards, we are concerned to have learned that funding the necessary recovery efforts may become new political ammunition in our already ultra-polarized U.S. Congress, where some are threatening to hold disaster recovery funds hostage in the name of ‘fiscal responsibility’ and ‘balancing the budget’. We will have to wait and see if cooler more pragmatic heads prevail over political ideology-driven minds.

On 10 June 2011 a Categoy 4 Hurricane and a Weather-maker!

On 1 June 2011 the Atlantic hurricane season opened with plenty of disturbed weather over the eastern and southern Caribbean as well as along the coastline of Panama and Central America , which over time began to evolve, move and progress until by 5 June one coaleced around a center of low pressure in the central Caribbean showing some signs of potential cyclonic development, and another cell over quite warm surface waters of the eastern east Pacific off Nicaragua also began to show signs of possible cyclonic development [See 5 June 2011 posting here: “The Caribbean and Esatern East Pacific Flare-up on 5 June 2011”].

More recently, over the past five days, the Caribbean system has weakened but caused heavy rains, and flash floods as it interacted with the mountains of Cuba, Jamaica and Hispanolia, while moving generally northward toward eastern Cuba and the Bahamas. In the course of these developments, flash floods in Haiti resulted in at least 30 dead and addiitonal suffering for the thousands of survivors of the 2010 earthquake still living in tent cities and makeshift shelters. Meanwhile over in the eastern east Pacific we had tropical storm Adrian form off the coast of Mexico to the southwest of the resort city of Acapulco [See 8 June 2011 posting here: “The Northern Tropics are Acting-up!”], and far away from our neck-of-the-woods large tropical waves generated disturbed weather over the South China Sea just west of the Philippines and west of Mumbai, India over the Arabian Sea.

Category 4 Hurricane ADRIAN over eastern east Pacific near Mexican coast

  Today, 10 June 2011, there is category 4 Hurricane ADRIAN near the Pacific coast of Mexico some 500 south of Puerto Vallarta, moving toward the northwest and away from the continental land mass. Adrian is the first tropical cyclone of the 2011 East Pacific season that started on 15 May 2011.

The satellite view on the left [courtesy of the Navy Research Laboratory] shows a well defined and large storm churning along toward the northwest, which will take it away from land toward the central north Pacific .

Another satellite view [courtesy of NASA], below, shows a color-enhanced infrared image of Hurricane Adrian with a well defined eye as it moved basically in parallel to the Pacific coast of Mexico in the early morning of Friday 10 June 2011.

Color-enhanced infrared satellite view of Hurricane ADRIAN on 10 June 2011
Also on 10 June 2011 the weather-maker system that traversed  from the Caribbean over Cuba is now centered above the Bahamas and moving generally northward, while generating plenty of stormy weather and scattered thunderstorms and rain over a large region, as seen in the satellite image below [courtesy of NASA]:
GOES satellite view of the larger Caribbean basin on 10 June 2011
The main question concerning this system, which is moving into an atmospheric environment ahead that does not favor cyclonic development, is how much it will affect Florida if at all. This is quite an important issue as the Florida peninsula is suffering one of its worst drought of the past 30 years, and a weather-maker like this could bring some much needed rain to the state. Although any rain generated by this system over Florida will not solve the problem, it would at least alleviate some of a current situation that has the waters of Lake Okeechobee at such low levels that no water is flowing naturally through the C-8 canal, and water management authorities have had to use pumps to provide water to the agricultural area south of the lake, while diverting water away from the Calootsahatchee River causing an environmental problem with high salinity, dead fish and flora, and severe adverse impact on tourism dependent activities in Fort Myers and adjacent areas, as well as throught the greater Everglades. Given these problematic issues, there are some in Florida who are wishing for the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season to send a couple of wet hurricanes toward Florida soon, even though the quid-pro-quo might be structural damage and human suffering for some. What a dilemma!!
While we wrestle with this important question in Florida, far away over the South China Sea tropical storm SARIKA, which generated a coupld of days ago off the Philippines coast near Manila, is now approaching landfall in mainland China as a weakened cyclone that is generating plenty of rain over a wide region. The satellite image below illustrates:
Color-enhanced infrared satellite image of tropical storm SAKIRA on 10 June 2011
So, what will be next over the northern tropics? Will tropical cyclone activity drive rain toward parched regions enduring severe drought? Or will tropical cyclones only bring damage and destruction to affected areas worldwide? Only time will tell what happens next, we must however remain prepared and vigilant for it only takes one impact to cause a disaster and plenty of human suffering. Be prepared! Pay attention!! Mitigate!!!