Ecocentricity Blog: Slowing to a Crawl

Sep 18, 2018 2:30 PM ET
Campaign: Ecocentricity Blog

Ecocentricity Blog: Slowing to a Crawl

I know I said I would write about the Global Climate Action Summit this week, but I changed my mind. That can wait another week. There were some big things that happened there, and they’ll be just as big in a week.

I want to talk about football and hurricanes (but not the Miami Hurricanes, so if you are a UF or FSU fan, please don’t click the little x at the top of your browser). Also, the football part of this isn’t terribly important. The hurricanes part is.

As I’m sure you know, Hurricane Florence just brought some recent unpleasantness (quite an understatement) to parts of North and South Carolina. I was anxiously tracking the storm last week, because a few friends of ours had invited us to drive with them to Charlottesville to, in part, watch the University of Virginia home football game. At the beginning of the week, it looked like Charlottesville could get hit by Florence if she made landfall in North Carolina and then moved due north.

We decided not to make the trip as eight hours of driving through rain on the way home sounded like precisely zero fun. Plus, the game wouldn’t even have been played in Charlottesville, as the university announced midweek that they were relocating it to Nashville, Tennessee in an abundance of caution. Apparently, that decision riled up a portion of Virginia’s fan base (based on the message board I read), especially when Florence’s projected path shifted south and spared Charlottesville from her impact.

I find that unfortunate (that people grumbled about the game’s relocation, I mean). It seems to me both shortsighted and insensitive to complain about a football game that got moved unnecessarily. By sparing Charlottesville, it simply meant that all the rain and wind from Florence that were originally going towards Charlotteville went somewhere else.

And with this storm, I mean ALL of it. Yes, Florence began to weaken as it approached the Eastern seaboard. It also began to slow down, but that isn’t a good thing. A slow-moving storm might hit less area, but the area it does hit suffers tremendously. Florence slowed to an absolute crawl, resulting in feet of rain and significant flooding. Swansboro, North Carolina set the state record for rainfall with 30 inches, and more than 20 people have lost their lives to the storm.

According to this fascinating (and scary) article from FiveThirtyEight, atmospheric scientists are suggesting that slow moving storms (hurricanes and otherwise) are becoming more common. Storms are also becoming wetter as our climate changes. While the latter has clearly been linked to global warming, the former is still being studied. My guess is that slow-moving storms will eventually be linked to global warming as well.

Hurricanes have always been dangerous, and it appears they are becoming more so. I’d say that caution is the right approach – especially when it involves packing thousands of people into a single stadium.

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