Sunday, May 30, 2010

Haiti Hurricane Warning: 2010 Has Force

Predictions call for up to 23 storms of at least tropical storm strength

Storm Alex forms well north of Haiti, could threaten Washington D.C. this weekend

The 2010 hurricane season begins Tuesday and runs through Nov. 30, and forecasters say 
it has all the ingredients to be one of the worst on record. Where do these terrifying storms come from, and why is this season inspiring so much concern?

This season, the predictions call for up to 23 storms of at least tropical storm strength. As many as seven are expected to be major hurricanes of at least Category 3 strength, with sustained winds of 111-130 mph. Five or more may threaten the U.S. coastline.

That’s ominous not just because of the numbers, but because some of those storms are almost certain to end up in the Gulf of Mexico, where another disaster already is unfolding: the BP oil spill. At a minimum, a hurricane could set back efforts to contain the spill. At worst, it could drive ashore more of the toxic sludge, ruining so-far unaffected beaches.

Kerry Emanuel, a hurricane expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told National Public Radio the oil could even make a hurricane worse. The dark crude absorbs sunlight and curtails surface evaporation, raising the water temperature, he said.

But according to the Palm Beach Post, Bill Read, director of the National Hurricane Center, says it’s another disaster that concerns him most: the January earthquake in Haiti.

Sharing the island of Hispaniola, Haiti and the Dominican Republic are often in the direct path of hurricanes like 2008’s Georges. Already prone to mudslides because of its mountainous terrain and centuries of poor agricultural practices, Haiti now has tens of thousands of residents whose homes were rendered uninhabitable by the quake.

“What if we have a major hurricane come across Haiti, with all these people in substandard shelters?” Read asked a gathering of hurricane researchers last week.

Bill Steiden

Sources: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “Divine Wind” by Kerry Emanuel, Associated Press, Palm Beach Post, Bloomberg News

Source: AJC

No comments:

Post a Comment