Myki Dee Kim, Staff Writer
What began as a tropical storm has quickly upgraded to a Category 3 hurricane, that has people around the world waiting and praying for the best outcome. A hurricane’s wind speed is measured by the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale which categorizes winds from 1-5, with Category 3 and upwards being considered major hurricanes due to their high damage and potential loss of life.
On Aug. 26, 2019, Tropical Storm Dorian began to swell in the Caribbean. As time passed, the storm started to churn heavily near the Bahamas and formed into a tropical cyclone, which then led it to be categorized as a hurricane. It was expected that the storm would heavily affect residents in Florida and the Northwestern Bahamas. Florida anticipated Hurricane Dorian to hit over the later half of the Labor Day weekend and early into the upcoming week.
Meteorologists expected that the storm would upgrade to a Category 4 hurricane as it neared the Florida coast. The National Weather Service (NWS) warned that the Hurricane may bring a “triple threat of danger” as this could be a life-threatening storm, dangerous winds, and strong rainfall. The NWS also urged Florida residents to be prepared for the unpredictable storm.
As the Labor Day weekend progressed, the storm upgraded to a Category 5 hurricane that touched ground in the Bahamas on Sunday, Aug. 1. The storm had strong winds with sustained speeds of 185mph, and caused a great deal of devastation. The weather watch quickly extended from Florida to the coastal areas of Georgia and the Carolinas. The strong winds have led to a death toll in the United States of five casualties in the Southeast.
Saint Martin’s very own, Mary Jo Hartman Ph.D. commented on this pressing topic. Hartman stated in an interview that there are numerous issues surrounding the hurricane. A major one being that
“many more people live near the coast and are affected by surging tides and flooding associated with hurricanes. Development of coastal areas has resulted in fewer natural barriers to flooding due to removal of vegetation and trees. It also makes a big difference as to when the hurricane makes landfall; if that is during high tide, then flooding is greatly increased.”
Despite popular belief, there is no data that states that hurricane activity has increased in recent years. Hartman stated that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published,
“In the Atlantic, it is premature to conclude with high confidence that human activities–and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming–have already had a detectable impact on hurricane activity.”
Hartman also noted that in the 21st century, it is important to take the matter of the rising sea levels seriously, especially in the areas of developing housing and cities. It is important to note how they affect the sea levels rising and the flooding that is a result of hurricanes.
The National Weather Service has put together a guide to help people who may be affected by a tropical storm or hurricane. If you find yourself in a tropical storm or hurricane zone, here are some tips to prepare yourself beforehand: know your zone, put together a family emergency kit, write or review your family emergency plan, review your insurance policies, and understand NWS forecast products.
As of Thursday Sept. 5, Hurricane Dorian has been downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane, as it continues to churn in the Atlantic Ocean and is nearing the Carolina coasts. The hurricane has left catastrophic damage to the Bahamas, which has a rising death toll of 30. The storm has shifted north as it does not plan to affect Florida communities, but has a greater impact on the Carolinas. Forecasters are unaware when this hurricane is expected to touch ground, but it is anticipated to make landfall in North Carolina. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina has declared a civil emergency in anticipation for Hurricane Dorian. Also in anticipation of the storm, residents of the Virginia Beach community have been ordered to evacuate to ensure safety as the storm will pose a significant impact on their community. The citizens of the South are bracing themselves for the worst and are preparing for the storm’s arrival.
Several non-profit organizations have put together numerous Hurricane Dorian relief funds that will directly assist those affected by this storm. Organizations such as the American Red Cross, Grand Bahama’s Relief Foundation, Global Giving, World Central Kitchen, and many more are set into place to aid the aftermath of the storm. Relief funds are accepting monetary donations, supplies, and volunteer efforts. If you would like to help with relief efforts, visit one of these organizations to find out how you could assist.