Flooding has reached new heights during the storm while the Florence death toll rises to double digits. As of 5:15 a.m. this Sunday, National Public Radio reports 12 lives have been taken in North Carolina as the state sees rain that could cause flooding of up to ten inches in certain areas.
While the National Hurricane Center reports some areas will experience 50 mph winds and more rain has yet to come, Florence has been downgraded from Category 1 to a tropical depression as of this Friday, Sep. 4.
Named after the Carribean god of evil Hurican, hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30, with peak season’s arrival last week. Peak season is caused by the decreased wind shear that occurs this time of year, which normally acts as a barrier across the Atlantic. The wind shear protects the country every other time of year. With the climate perfectly aligned, the warm waters of the Caribbean begin to evaporate and inject water into the lower atmosphere, creating a chain of clouds and heat which begin to spiral under the storm, effectively launching the high winds and rain towards the coastline.
Last hurricane season brought along with it ten total storms, with six being considered major (Category 3 or higher). This season, there are five storms brewing between the Atlantic and Pacific alone, with another one beginning to form with a 50 percent chance of becoming a hurricane or tropical storm. Compared to 2017, this year has only produced Florence as a major hurricane, as the others have either dissipated quickly or sustained their status as a Category 1 or 2.
Normally there wouldn’t be any type of storm that could be worse than a Category 5, but due to increased amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, increased temperatures and lower precipitation levels creating a longer dry season, the potential for Category 6 hurricanes is becoming a possibility.
This type of storm would produce winds of 200 mph or more and cause destruction the likes of which we have not seen for centuries. While unofficial Category 6 hurricanes have come and gone in the pacific in the last few years, the last official Category 6 was a storm that hit the lesser antilles islands dubbed “The Great Hurricane of 1780” which caused a death toll on the small islands that reached up to 22,000.
Due to the warming temperature we have been experiencing due to climate change, space meteorologist Jeff Masters has contemplated whether or not we will see a storm greater than Category 6 within the next few decades. He claims if a surge of this magnitude strikes, it would most likely hit the Persian Gulf region and devastate cities like Dubai, plunging them underwater and making them face winds that would be able to rip bark off of trees.
If a storm of the same magnitude was likely to hit the Tampa Bay area, the flooding from such a storm would be enough to plunge the entire city underwater during the storm, and quite possibly be able to rip entire buildings off of their foundation from the wind alone.
While Hurricane Florence fades, the damage will be assessed in the upcoming days, but we must be most concerned with hurricanes in upcoming years as they become larger and more aggressive.
Eric Ryan is a fifth-year student majoring in English writings. ER821804@wcupa.edu.