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Video: Heavy rains and flooding as Iota makes landfall

TimesVideo Heavy rain and flooding as Iota makes landfall The hurricane passes through parts of Central America that are still reeling from Hurricane Eta earlier this month. By Storyful and The Associated Press.

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Video: Tropical storm Eta hits Florida

TimesVideoTropical Storm Eta makes landing in Florida Eta’s landing was the second time he has landed in the state this week. It hit the central part of the Florida Keys late Sunday, per The New York Times.

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Video: Tropical Storm Eta Crawls Along Florida’s Gulf Coast

The impacts of Tropical Storm Eta were felt on the southwest coast of Florida on Wednesday. The storm is expected to hit a second land in the state on Thursday.

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Warming can cause hurricanes to weaken more slowly after landing

By studying the effects of climate change on hurricanes, scientists focused on what happens above the water, when storms form and intensify, capturing heat and humidity as they turn in over the ocean.

But a new study is looking at what happens after hurricanes make landfall and make their way inland. Research suggests that climate change also affects storms during this phase of their life, causing them to weaken more slowly and remain destructive for longer.

The findings could have implications for how emergency management agencies prepare for storms after landing.

In the study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, Lin Li and Pinaki Chakraborty from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University in Japan analyzed data from North Atlantic hurricanes that made landfall from 1967 to 2018, by examining the decrease in intensity, or wind speed, of storms on the first day after hitting land.

They found that if 50 years ago a typical storm would have lost more than three-quarters of its intensity in the first 24 hours, when it could travel several hundred kilometers inland, it did not ‘would now only lose about half.

“Decomposition has slowed down considerably over the past 50 years,” Dr Chakraborty said in an interview. “There may very well be a climatic link.”

By comparing the decay data with changes in sea surface temperatures, then using simulations of hurricanes moving across land, the scientists found what they say is the connection: rising sea temperatures. oceans linked to global warming leads to slower weakening of storms, even after storms, move away from the source of moisture.

Scientists warned that there were caveats to their research, among which they used a relatively small data set – only 71 hurricanes made landfall in five decades.

A prominent hurricane researcher Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said he was skeptical of the results. In an email message, Dr Emanuel said he did not agree with the researchers’ theoretical argument and that the data and simulations, “while suggestive, do not definitively prove that the decomposition is slower. in warmer climates regardless of other factors, such as the size of the storm. . “

But other researchers said the study was compelling and opened up a whole new field of research into hurricanes, their behavior on earth. Even weakened, the winds from these storms can knock down trees and power lines, damage homes and cause further destruction inland.

Dan Chavas, an atmospheric scientist at Purdue University who wrote an accompanying article in Nature, said the work was “definitive to identify a topic that hardly anyone has thought of and could be very important. . “

Suzana Camargo, a hurricane researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, part of Columbia University, said she and her colleagues published a study last year that showed stronger hurricanes produced more precipitation after making landfall.

In the new study, she says, “They say the humidity stays in the storm for a while, and that makes perfect sense with what we saw in our study.

A hurricane is essentially a heat engine, a rotating storm powered by moisture from the warm ocean. The prevailing theory of how hurricanes weaken after they arrive on earth is that once they lose this fuel source, friction with the earth slows their rotation.

Dr Chakraborty compared it to a swirling cup of tea. “Over the ocean, because the moisture supply is there for the heat engine, you are constantly stirring the tea,” he says. But when it hits the ground, the power is cut off, the agitation stops and the friction slows down the vortex

“Above all, thermodynamics play no role” in this slowing down process, according to the theory, he said.

What he and his co-author suggest, however, is that the humidity that remains in the storm plays a thermodynamic role, affecting how quickly the storm weakens. And in a warming climate, with warmer sea surface temperatures, more moisture remains in the storm.

“Once we understand that humidity plays a key role, the link with climate becomes obvious,” said Dr Chakraborty.

Their hurricane simulations allowed them to test the idea that humidity plays a role in creating “dry”, moisture-free hurricanes that decomposed much faster than normal hurricanes. The models also allowed them to determine that factors such as topography and inland weather conditions played less of a role in weakening the storms.

Dr Camargo said a potential weakness of the study was that the models used were, of necessity, rather simple.

Modeling hurricanes after landing is difficult, she said. “It’s a difficult problem. The models need to capture a lot of things that are happening – the interaction with the topography, for example. “

“I don’t know if what they did in the model is the best way to represent hurricanes that have made landfall,” added Dr Camargo. “But at least in this model, it seems to be in keeping with their idea.”

Dr Chakraborty said he was not surprised that there was some skepticism about the results. “Overall, our study challenges widely held ideas about hurricane disintegration,” he said. “I hope this will stimulate more research and shed new light on this important area which has long been considered well understood.”

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5 things we know about climate change and hurricanes

It was a record season for storms. On Monday evening, subtropical storm Theta became the 29th named storm of the 2020 hurricane season, exceeding the total count for 2005.

Theta formed after Tropical Storm Eta spent the day hitting Florida, causing heavy rains and flooding in the southern state and the Keys.

The tumultuous season has raised questions about the extent of climate change affecting hurricanes in the Atlantic. Researchers can’t say for sure whether human-caused climate change will mean longer or more active hurricane seasons in the future, but there is broad agreement on one thing: global warming is changing storms.

Scientists say, for example, that unusually warm Atlantic surface temperatures have helped increase storm activity this season. Warmer ocean temperatures are “absolutely responsible for the overactive season,” said James P. Kossin, a climatologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “It is very likely that man-made climate change contributed to this unusually warm ocean.”

It’s still not clear if this is an exception or part of an uptrend, Dr Kossin said. He noted that climate change could ultimately lead to fewer storms.

Either way, he said, “climate change makes hurricanes more likely to behave in certain ways.”

Here are some of those ways.

There is a strong scientific consensus that hurricanes are getting stronger and stronger.

Hurricanes are complex, but one of the key factors that determine the final strength of a given storm is the ocean surface temperature, as warmer water provides more energy that powers storms.

“The potential intensity is increasing,” said Kerry Emanuel, professor of atmospheric sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “We predicted it would increase 30 years ago, and the observations show it.”

Stronger winds mean blown power lines, damaged roofs and, when paired with rising sea levels, more severe coastal flooding.

“Even if the storms themselves don’t change, the storm surge is rising to high sea level,” said Dr Emanuel. He used New York as an example, where the sea level has risen by about a foot over the past century. “If Sandy’s storm surge had happened in 1912 rather than 2012,” he says, “it probably wouldn’t have flooded Lower Manhattan.”

Warming also increases the amount of water vapor the atmosphere can hold. In fact, each degree Celsius of warming allows the air to contain about 7% more water.

This means that we can expect future storms to bring more rainfall.

Researchers don’t yet know why storms move slower, but they are. Some say a slowdown in global atmospheric circulation, or global winds, could be in part to blame.

In a 2018 article, Dr Kossin found that hurricanes over the United States had slowed by 17% since 1947. Combined with increasing rainfall rates, storms cause a 25% increase in local precipitation. in the United States, he said.

Slower, wetter storms also make flooding worse. Dr. Kossin likened the problem to walking around your backyard while using a garden hose to spray water on the ground. If you walk fast, the water will not have a chance to start collecting. But if you walk slowly, he said, “you will have a lot of rain below you.”

Because warmer water helps fuel hurricanes, climate change is expanding the area where hurricanes can form.

There is a “migration of tropical cyclones out of the tropics to subtropics and mid-latitudes,” said Dr Kossin. This could mean more storms will make landfall in higher latitudes, like in the United States or Japan.

As the climate warms, researchers also say they expect storms to intensify more quickly. Researchers still don’t know why this is happening, but the trend seems clear.

In a 2017 article based on climate and hurricane models, Dr Emanuel found that rapidly intensifying storms – those that increased wind speeds by 70 miles per hour or more in the 24 hours leading up to the landings – were rare in the period 1976 to 2005. On average, he estimated, their probability during these years was about once per century.

By the end of the 21st century, he found, these storms could form once every five or ten years.

“It’s a forecaster’s nightmare,” said Dr Emanuel. If a tropical storm or Category 1 hurricane turns into a Category 4 hurricane overnight, he said, “there is no time to evacuate people.”

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Video: Tropical Storm Eta Hits South Florida

Tropical Storm Eta Hits South Florida Tropical Storm Eta caused intense flooding, storm surge along the coast, and left hundreds of thousands of people without power in South Florida.

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Video: Tropical Storm Eta Approaches South Florida

Tropical Storm Eta Approaches South Florida The intensifying storm brought heavy rain and high winds as it approached the Florida Keys, where it is expected to make landfall, possibly in the form of a hurricane on Sunday night.

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How do you announce a city ravaged by hurricanes?

As a 24-year-old public relations representative for her town, Kathryn Shea Duncan eats, sleeps and breathes in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

The working-class town, home to around 80,000 residents and just inland from the Gulf of Mexico, is the big city where she grew up and spent Thanksgiving with her family. She rented her first home in Lake Charles. She met her boyfriend, Ryan Beeson, at the Panorama Music House downtown. She can point you to the best place to get a boy in, hold a baby alligator or a crab out of dry land.

But Ms Duncan’s resolve to stay in the city has been shaken by the series of hurricanes that have devastated the place and much of the surrounding area this year. Thousands of residents remain displaced and help – in the form of charitable donations and volunteers – has been hard to come by, with the entire country grappling with coronavirus outbreaks and distracted by politics. (Mayor Nic Hunter has worked to publicize his city’s state, appearing on CNN, Fox News and NPR, where he told listeners, “I beg, I beg Americans not to forget Lake Charles . ”)

Ms. Duncan wonders how she will continue to do the job of promoting the place she loves.

“The reality is, what product do we need to present?” she says. “What event? What is open? We know that all of our hotels will be full until the end of the year with workers and first responders. And then, sooner or later, with the families who have been moved.

It also changed the way he thought about his own future. (Charles Lake is not located on the coast, but is still affected by frequent storms, a shifting coastline, and sea level rise.)

“Are you starting to wonder what your house looks like?” Ms. Duncan said. “What is your job like? What will everything I do for a living, to promote my life be like? “

Before the storms, Ms. Duncan’s job was to present stories to out-of-state writers and reporters on Lake Charles and southwestern Louisiana, including on the Creole Nature Trail, a scenic drive that allows visitors to stroll through Louisiana’s tall grasses and alligator habitats, and Adventure Point, an attraction along the trail where kids can don real hunting gear and smell the spices used in the Louisiana cuisine.

“We were still presenting stories during Covid-19,” she said, “but we couldn’t accommodate anyone because we really can’t do it safely. When Hurricane Laura struck, however, her bosses “were primarily concerned with our well-being and our health.”

On August 25, the night Laura made landfall, Mr. Beeson and Mrs. Duncan were at Mrs. Duncan’s mother’s house in Crowley, Louisiana, a town about a quarter the size of Lake Charles, and about a hour drive. .

Mr. Beeson woke Ms. Duncan in the middle of the night. “I know you don’t want to see this, but I think you should know what’s going on,” he said, handing his phone to Ms. Duncan. He revealed a photograph of the completely destroyed Panorama Music House.

“Literally he had just fallen,” Ms. Duncan said. “Like a waterfall.”

The owners were building a small museum on the top floor dedicated to the musical history of Lake Charles, which Ms. Duncan was happy to recommend to visitors. (Country musician Lucinda Williams, for example, was born and raised nearby and gave the town the name of one of her most famous songs.)

“I just sat there, sobbing,” Ms. Duncan said. “Cry for what might be lost.”

This hurricane, a category four storm, eventually displaced more than 6,000 residents of Lake Charles. Wind damage left small buildings and big box stores, like Best Buy and Hobby Lobby, to pieces, and tens of thousands of people were without power for weeks.

Ms. Duncan’s house survived with minimal damage, but her office had to be emptied. His neighbor has had a lot worse. “She had damage to the ceiling, so they gutted themselves,” she says. “She can’t live there. And she’s a nurse.

Then, in October, Hurricane Delta made a turn toward Lake Charles. Ms Duncan went upstairs again, putting her television away in her laundry room with framed photos of her late father.

Ms. Duncan’s family has lived in this area of ​​Louisiana for generations and has roots dating back to the original group of Cajuns who were exiled from Acadia, Canada by the British in the 1700s.

Physically, the condition has changed a lot since then. In 2014, the map was redesigned to take into account the shrinking coastline, and storms are more frequent – and deadlier – than ever. But Ms. Duncan is determined to make it through.

“We can improve it,” she said. “Through economic development and improved infrastructure, a cleaner environment and better transportation.” You can’t do all of these great things if you don’t stay and work at them day in and day out. “

“I’m a very forward-looking person,” said Duncan, sitting in her lair in Lake Charles, beneath a framed, hand-drawn map of the state of Louisiana. “I still plan for the next five years.”

It goes without saying that Ms. Duncan may eventually want to move to another city. But Lake Charles is her home, she says. And leaving has never been so appealing as staying put.

“If I were to move somewhere with a million people, it would be almost pointless trying to make a difference,” she said. “But if I stay here, and I’m resilient, living in a city of 80,000 people, where most of them think and act the same, and I’m a millennial who probably doesn’t have the same thoughts and experiences that those around me, I can make a difference.

“If I go,” she added, “then who is going to stay? Who is this person going to be? “

October was another story. With Hurricane Delta bare over Lake Charles, she and Mr. Beeson evacuated once again, this time to San Antonio to stay with friends. With traffic, the normal five hour commute took them 12. “To be completely honest with you, I wanted to move,” Ms. Duncan said. “I was frustrated. I was angry that this kept happening.

But after the storm, Ms. Duncan was overcome with emotion as she saw the work her community has done together to rebuild. It’s exciting, she says, to be a part of it. There is a Facebook group for her neighborhood, where people check each other out, making sure they have everything they need.

“Even Our Mail Lady is part of the group,” Ms. Duncan said, “and two days after Laura she indicated she was going home and going to drop the mail when she arrived.

This prompted Ms Duncan to reconsider her frustration. “I was kind of like, OK, maybe I need to relax and stay here a little bit longer,” she said, adding that she thought there was a reason. she was here for.

Now, back in the satellite office, Ms. Duncan and her team are working on budgeting for the next fiscal year, trying to come up with a plan to sell Lake Charles again. It’s about rebuilding, but rebuilding better and taking advantage of new things that could come out of this dark period in the city’s history.

“There may be new restaurants and new attractions that flow from them,” she says. “There is a sort of unhappy beauty that could come from it. Maybe the interior of one of our attractions is gutted, and it sucks, but maybe they have a chance to reinvent themselves.

Seeing how Lake Charles came together in the wake of two hurricanes only made the decision easier. “It’s more satisfying now, of course,” she said. “It confirms why I chose to stay here. Yes, everyone’s life is in chaos right now. But we still check on each other to make sure everything is okay. We worry about our neighbors, even in the midst of our own struggles. “

The fact that there are many obstacles ahead makes Ms. Duncan more devoted to the place. “If I had to go I would be in a different environment and all that,” she says. “But by staying, I constantly challenge myself. It’s this constant and daily challenge to think, what can I do better? How can I improve this place? How can I leave it better for the next generation? “

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Louisiana, still in shock from two hurricanes, belts for Zeta

The governor of Louisiana declared a state of emergency as Tropical Storm Zeta headed for the Gulf Coast in the state on Tuesday, which has already been battered by storm after storm during the prolific hurricane season of this year.

Zeta threatens to cause a potentially fatal storm surge along parts of the northern Gulf Coast by Wednesday evening, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm was expected to gain strength as it moved across the Gulf of Mexico.

“It’s easy to let our guard down at the end of the hurricane season, but that would be a huge mistake,” Governor John Bel Edwards said in a statement Monday.

Zeta was demoted from a Category 1 hurricane, but it was expected to become a hurricane again later on Tuesday.

“We expect it to be close to hurricane strength when it hits the coast,” said Richard Pasch, a senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Winds are expected to reach at least 120 km / h by the time the storm makes landfall.

A hurricane warning remained in effect Tuesday morning for Morgan City, Louisiana, on the Mississippi-Alabama border, including the metropolis of New Orleans. Meteorologists have predicted up to six inches of rain in those areas and to the north.

If the forecast holds, Zeta will continue a pattern that occurred this year in which much of the storm damage does not come from wind but water.

Dr Pasch said the storm was expected to move faster than previous storms, but the storm surge could reach up to six feet or “maybe even more.” The storm surge alert stretches from the central Louisiana coast to the Florida Panhandle, he said.

The hurricane center also warned that a few tornadoes were possible Wednesday over southeastern Mississippi, southern Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle.

Zeta is the 27th named storm in an extremely active Atlantic hurricane season, approaching the record set in 2005, when 28 storms became strong enough to have names.

Of the 27 storms named so far this year, only four were major hurricanes, classified as Category 3 or higher. (In 2005 there were seven major hurricanes, also a record.) Seventeen of the storms in 2020, with winds below 73 miles per hour, never exceeded the strength of tropical storms, but heavy rains accompanied many of them. Tropical Storm Bertha at the start of the season brought 14 inches of rain to parts of South Florida in late May.

The destructive effects of Hurricanes Laura and Delta were felt severely in Lake Charles, a working-class town of about 78,000 people.

Hurricane Laura made landfall on August 27 in Cameron Parish, south of Lake Charles, as a Category 4 storm with winds of 150 mph. More than two dozen people have died in its aftermath. The trees were shredded and the inhabitants had to cover the destroyed roofs with blue tarpaulins.

Then, earlier this month, Hurricane Delta hit the coast as a Category 2 storm within 20 miles of where Laura made landfall. Delta triggered floods that besieged neighborhoods and heavy rains that inundated homes with already damaged roofs. Thousands of people remained displaced.

“I’m begging,” Mayor Nic Hunter told NPR. “I ask Americans not to forget Lake Charles.”

Rick Rojas and Henry Fountain contributed reporting.