by Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz
HURRICANE EARL: Sign of Problems to Come?
While Earl was transitioning from a weak disturbance into a hurricane over the past few days, it has also moved VERY slowly. As the above map shows, it has moved straight north, averaging about 6mph over that period. I can walk almost that fast!
I've been writing about the overall unfavorable conditions for tropical threats to the U.S. and Caribbean SO FAR during the historical peak of hurricane season. One of the reasons is the lack of westward steering due to the virtual absence of the "Bermuda High". Weak High=slow movement.
This is not normal, especially in this part of the ocean at this time of year. Usually, storms are either tracking westward at 10-25 mph, or recurving northward at the same (or even higher speed). We also don't often find a storm intensifying significantly while being practically stationary. The storms churn up the water, which cools the water, which then weakens the storm. But look at what can happen when a large, intensifying hurricane slows down as it approaches land:
Record rainfall fell over a large area led to catastrophic flooding. Some places had more than 40 inches!
It was almost a repeat performance just a year later. Florence was a major hurricane tracking straight toward the Carolinas-and then it slowed to a crawl
Record, catastrophic rainfall was the result. Again.
If steering currents are weak where Earl is now, what will they be like if a hurricane approaches land later this month or next?
Recent studies, including the one referenced here suggest hurricane movement in the future "would become a little stronger, a little slower-moving, and a lot wetter" due to the changed climate.
It may be natural to look at a hurricane threat as a certain wind speed or category. But recent years have shown that the size and speed of movement can be just as, or even more important than what the Saffir-Simpson scale says.
Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz email@example.com
What you need to know, currently.
Anti-pipeline activists will converge in Washington D.C. this Thursday in an effort to convince lawmakers to halt the Mountain Valley Pipeline — a pet project of Senator Joe Manchin, that was revived as part of the deal brokered to pass the Inflation Reduction Act.
The methane pipeline would cross 303 miles of mountainous, landslide-prone terrain and pass through several areas where a potential accident could severely affect residents’ drinking water. Landslides are a relatively common cause of pipeline explosions in Appalachia and building regulations are lax.
"No one is really saying, ‘We’ve looked at this and this line is safe,’" Rick Kuprewicz, a chemical engineer who worked on pipelines before going into safety consulting, told E&E News in 2019. "The system favors rushing."