Hurricane Matthew Brings Dangerous Conditions to the Coast

Hurricane Matthew Update:  October 7, 2016.

Hurricane Matthew continues to push north paralleling the east coast of Florida.  The storm has yet to make landfall, but powerful wind gusts of over 100 mph have downed trees and caused power outages for nearly 1,000,000 people.  Bands of heavy rain currently stretch as far north as South Carolina with flash flooding likely across the lowland areas.  The hurricane has been reduced to a category 2 storm, staying just offshore, but the threat of storm surge flooding remains a critical concern.

Hurricane Matthew

Hurricane Matthew predicted path, as shown in the RZAlert Dashboard.

Unease Growing Over Storm Surge

The storm is currently off the northeast coast of Florida, dousing the coastal town of Jacksonville.  Storm surge flooding combined with heavy rain has already effected much of northeast Florida and Georgia, with–maybe–the worst conditions  yet to come.

In St. Augustine (FL), flooding preceded the storm inundating much of the city’s historic downtown with knee-deep water.  The storm surge in St. Augustine is projected to top 8 feet in some places as the water continues to rise. Nearby, the city of Jacksonville fears for an unprecedented event, warning residents of the potential for catastrophic damage. Officials are expecting storm surges as high as 9 feet and residents began evacuating days ago. According to the city’s mayor, anything over 3 feet is life-threatening.  A major tropical storm has not impacted the city of Jacksonville in over a century.

Charleston Susceptible

Fears are also mounting for the Charleston area where the eye-wall is projected to potentially center itself over the Coastal Carolina city come Saturday morning. Officials are worried the flood levels could be near or even surpass those experienced in the October 2015 flood event which set historic records in terms of damage and lives lost.  The nowCoast™ modeling of the potential storm surge by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows dangerous conditions far inland due to the numerous inlets and intercostal waterways. Interestingly, the storm is projected to move clockwise away from the Southeastern US coast and curl back around toward Cuba. Time will tell what else this storm has in store for an area that has historically escaped major hurricane impact.

Hurricane

Storm surge forecast for Charleston, NC.

Sources:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/heres-hurricane-matthew-might-cause-worst-flooding/?utm_content=buffer1cf9c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

https://weather.com/storms/hurricane/news/hurricane-matthew-bahamas-florida-georgia-carolinas-forecast

https://weather.com/news/news/south-carolina-historic-flood-rainfall-record-extreme

http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/07/us/hurricane-matthew-florida/

 

Unprecedented Rains Create Historic Louisiana Floods

While draught and high temperatures fuel large wildfires across much of the western United States this fire season, unprecedented rains in Louisiana have resulted in historic floods which some are calling the worst natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy.  The historic Louisiana floods began on August 10th with rains pummeling the Baton Rouge area.  By August 12th, flood waters had overflowed rivers and inundated the lowlands as rains continued to spread south and east across the state.  As the waters begin to recede, residents as well as local officials are beginning to understand the extent of the damage.

By comparison, Hurricane Sandy and the recent Louisiana flooding were pale in comparison to Louisiana’s other famous disaster, Hurricane Katrina, which hit the Gulf Coast in August 2005, killing over 1,800 people and causing over $100 billion in damage.

Louisiana Floods at a Glance

  • More than 60,000 homes have been damaged with some of the hardest hit communities reporting a total loss of 75% of their homes.
  • Flooding of this magnitude is only forecasted to occur once every 1000 years.
  • 6.9 Trillion gallons of rain fell in one week with some areas experiencing over 31 inches of rainfall in less than 15 hours.
  • The Amite River reached a new record high of 46.2 feet devastating the town of Denham Springs.
  • More than 30,000 people and 1,400 pets were rescued but tragically 13 Deaths have been reported as the result of the flooding and an unknown number of people still missing.
  • 20 parishes so far have been declared as disaster areas. Over 106,000 residents have registered for federal aid.
  • FEMA has approved more than $107 million is disaster relief grants. The Red Cross estimates their costs will rise well over $30 million.
Parishes Declared as Disaster Areas from Louisiana Floods

Louisiana Parishes Declared as Disaster Areas as of 08/23/2016.

El Nino to Impact US this Winter

Typical weather from El Nino could help both the Northern and Southern US this winter.

Shown below are the typical weather impacts from El Nino events for the months of January through March. The looming El Nino event should bring Late 2015/Early 2016 respite to the dry Southern US and bring a temporary halt to the bitter cold winters seen in the Northern US the last couple years.

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This could bring some respite to California’s bone dry areas and help restore reservoirs throughout the state.

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Today’s released Wildfire Potential Outook also stressed the impact that this coming El Nino could have on the dry fuel situation throughout the West and the predicted fire potential in the coming months. Read more about that at http://www.nifc.gov/nicc/predictive/outlooks/outlooks.htm.

 

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