Currently in the Atlantic — October 14th, 2022

The weather, currently.

The main weather story continues to be Tropical Storm Karl. As of the 4 PM CDT update from the National Hurricane Center, Karl is barely hanging on as a tropical storm with 45 mph maximum sustained winds. If you look at some of today's satellite imagery, you can see why Karl is struggling:

Visible satellite loop of Tropical Storm Karl in the Bay of Campeche. Satellite data is courtesy of TropicalTidbits

In the satellite imagery, there is a large swirl of low-level clouds visible in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico. The center of the swirl is actually partially exposed, meaning that it is somewhat separated from the big thunderstorms. You can see the deep thunderstorm activity with the large burst of clouds bubbling up on the southeast side of the system.

A healthy tropical system would have the big storm activity located over the main center of circulation – but with Karl, the main center and the main storm activity is displaced. This is because northwesterly winds are pushing the storm clouds farther south and east and also pushing in dry air from the continent into the storm. Tropical systems cannot thrive in that kind of environment.

This means that Karl will stay a lower-end tropical storm or even weaken into a tropical depression by the time it makes landfall late Friday into Saturday in Veracruz. Even though the storm is disorganized, it will still produce heavy rainfall – with up to 10 inches falling in eastern Veracruz and up to 6 inches in some portions of Chiapas.  This could lead to flooding concerns as well as landslides in some of the mountainous terrain further inland.

National Hurricane Center's tropical weather outlook.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic, there is a tropical wave that the National Hurricane Center is watching located south of the Cabo Verde islands. Over the next 48 hours, no development is expected. However, there is a small (20 percent) chance that something may organize as this wave drifts westward over the next 5 days.

At this time, there is no real signal in any of the models that this tropical wave would develop into a major tropical system. However, we will still be keeping our eyes on it!

— Chief Meteorologist Anthony Torres filling in for Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz

What you need to know, currently.

One of the more insidious byproducts of sea level rise is the way it will affect groundwater. A new study, that was presented at the Geological Society of America yesterday, found that North Carolina’s septic systems were particularly vulnerable. As groundwater rises, bacteria and waste will rise to the surface — mingling with drinking water and backing up into residents’ houses.

As climate change increases the probability of extreme precipitation, even inland sewer systems will be at risk. Philadelphia, for example, has a combined sewer system that transports both storm runoff and wastewater and leaves it vulnerable to flooding during extreme rainfall events like the remnants of Hurricane Ida that hit the Northeast last year. The UN estimates that only 48 percent of sewage systems worldwide adequately treat wastewater and climate change will complicate things, even for well-functioning systems.

The study focused on Nags Head, North Carolina and found that homes that were less than 2.6 meters above sea level were significantly more likely to have trouble. Part of the issue is regulatory — although the insurance industry is beginning to catch up to rising seas, rising groundwater further inland is often overlooked and regulations are outdated.

“Homeowners need to get their systems inspected and pumped every three to five years, depending on how many people live in the home,” Mary Lusk, an assistant professor at the University of Florida, told the Apopka Voice. “This will help keep the system working at its best even during heavy storms or other disasters. But if you see waste backing up in the toilet or bathtub, or if the area around your septic system stinks, that’s a sign that it’s not working correctly, and you should call a professional septic system inspector right away.”

What you can do, currently.

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