Hurricane Florence

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Enhanced Storminess and Hurricane Florence

  • 1.  Enhanced Storminess and Hurricane Florence

    Topic Moderator
    Posted 11 days ago
      |   view attached
    As we speak, Hurricane Florence is about to make landfall on the Carolina coast (see the
    attached image from NOAA. While this is happening on the
    east coast in the US, super Typhoon Mongkhut is battering the Philippines and heading
    toward China.

    Many millions of people's lives and properties are at stake here. Our prayers and
    thoughts are with them! Events of such magnitudes – especially like the slow moving
    Florence – will subject the affected areas to very high winds, storm surge, wave actions,
    erosion, utility failures and flooding. The miseries of the affected people cannot be
    described unless one is there. Fortunately, a country like USA had many such events in
    the past and hope that the disaster management operatives like FEMA are well-prepared
    to alleviate some of the sufferings of the affected people.

    One question is very popular – whether or not such events qualify as enhanced storminess
    due to climate change?

    We invite all to share thoughts, experiences, photos, disaster management issues, and
    explanation of scientific and technical aspects.

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    Dr. Dilip Barua, Ph.D, P.Eng, M. ASCE
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Website: https://widecanvas.weebly.com
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  • 2.  RE: Enhanced Storminess and Hurricane Florence

    Posted 11 days ago
    Hi Dilip, I just read about this study that takes a shot at answering your question.  They forecasted rain totals more than 50% higher than they might have been if humans hadn't warmed up the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels.

    The Human Influence on Hurricane Florence
    More information about the study is at:
    https://crd.lbl.gov/departments/computational-science/ccmc/staff/staff-members/michael-wehner/ (graphic source)
    https://www.businessinsider.com/hurricane-florence-how-climate-change-affects-rainfall-2018-9

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    Tom Chase, M.ASCE
    Director, COPRI of ASCE
    Reston VA
    (703)295-6027
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  • 3.  RE: Enhanced Storminess and Hurricane Florence

    Posted 11 days ago
    There was some evidence of Harvey and Maria being fueled by unusually high ocean temperatures related to climate change.  However, Florence is now weakening.  The intensity and impact remain to be seen.  Each year we deal with active and inactive hurricane seasons.  It is nothing new or extreme.

    Differences today and years ago include: wall-to-wall real time media coverage, pin-point real time weather data (its a Cat 4, now it is a borderline Cat 2, now it is a Cat 1), and more beach front development.

    Was climate change responsible for Galveston 1900, Hurricane of '38, or Andrew?

    Sandy destroyed the Andrea Hotel and Coast Guard House Restaurant in Rhode Island.  The Andrea downsized to a restaurant/bar only (nothing spectacular to begin with).  The Coast Guard House rebuilt.  These owners and insurance companies accept and expect the risk (while reaping the financial gains) of being located on the beach.  The solution to energy worries and infrastructure resilience will always be based on economics.  States will not prohibit development at the beach so long as beach house residents and business pay big tax dollars.

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    Chad Morrison P.E., M.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI
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  • 4.  RE: Enhanced Storminess and Hurricane Florence

    Posted 11 days ago
    As an engineer, I am also a scientist. All the scientific studies that I read, the documented effects of rising temperature, and the personal experience of my 40-year career show how the weather is affected by the earth's documented temperature rise.

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    Johann Zimmermann P.E., M.ASCE
    Principal, JZ Engineering
    J Z Engineering
    Harrisonburg VA
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  • 5.  RE: Enhanced Storminess and Hurricane Florence

    Posted 11 days ago
    We need to, as an organization or as a profession, develop subject experts to support truth in the media.

    It is ridiculous to see and/or here news talking heads and 'meteorologists" expound on wind directions, wind speeds as "miles", storm surge as "wall of water."

    We can have hydrologists and riverine engineers as experts to clarify storm and damage issues as representatives of the profession, but not individually responsible.   

    For instance, the storm surge from hurricane Camille, in Mississippi was 18 feet!  Hurricanes in the northern hemisphere have counter-clockwise winds. this is simple to explain the change in wind direction from one side of the storm to the other!  Simply, the storm surge is the increased push of water from the high winds that greatly increases the depth of a high tide!

    The rising cost of hurricane damage is not more frequent or stronger storms, but more coastal development and escalated construction costs, in part due do more stringent building codes. 

    The big difference between home owner's insurance and flood insurance is the "rising water" clause.

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    John Lewis P.E., L.S., M.ASCE
    VP ENGINEERING
    Louisville GA
    (478) 625-3690
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  • 6.  RE: Enhanced Storminess and Hurricane Florence

    Posted 10 days ago

    John,

    Thank you for your comments and for engaging in ASCE's Collaborate community. The depth and breadth of ASCE's technical and geographic membership provides an invaluable resource for media.  As a consequence, the national and local media routinely contact ASCE for interviews and information following natural disasters. One note of caution when contacted by the media, volunteer leaders should coordinate any contact with the media through ASCE's Media Relations team in accordance with ASCE's Protocol for Media Outreach. As referenced in the protocol, please refer media calls to Emily Castellanos at 202-789-7846.

    Our media relations team has prepared a number of ASCE members who are subject matter experts to speak with the media about the effects of Hurricane Florence on infrastructure in the path of the storm. These spokespeople have had active roles during previous disasters, such as Hurricanes Sandy and Harvey, and as far back as Hurricane Katrina. They are prepared and ready to relay the ASCE message and facts about hurricanes and flooding and their effects to the best of their abilities.  Our ASCE staff team will be fielding media calls through the weekend and connecting our members with appropriate media inquiries.


    Thanks again for your interest.
    Brian


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    Brian Pallasch Aff.M.ASCE
    Managing Director, Gov Relations & Inf Initiatives
    ASCE Government Relations
    Washington DC
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  • 7.  RE: Enhanced Storminess and Hurricane Florence

    Topic Moderator
    Posted 7 days ago

    It is interesting to read the responses on this topic. Tom's discussion showing the NCAR image of modeled enhanced hurricane Florence rainfall due to climate change is quite instructive. I like Zimmermann's sentence: 'As an engineer, I am also a scientist.' Indeed, science is the illuminating torch an engineer needs to query, search for and provide solutions. While we may see more sharing of thoughts, I would like to share some more of my experiences – based on integrated hydrodynamic modeling of some aspects of past hurricanes, storm surges and wave actions – interestingly all occurring in the same month of September as Florence.

    • Fortunately, for the hurricane affected areas in North and South Carolina, the landfall on September 14, 2018 occurred at a time just about 5 days after the spring tide. But the crawling Florence is merciless and incessant in pouring down heavy rainfall –while at the same time piling up coastal water with pounding waves – backing up the river flow and impeding drainage. Many aspects of the hurricane and impacts will only be known after assessments from all different angles, but the coincidence of hurricane Florence in USA with typhoon Mongkhut in Asia will be remembered for long time.
    • Perhaps the answer to the popular question (enhanced storminess due to climate change) is not easy to answer – certainly not in definitive terms. Here are some lines from the NAP document Climate Change: Evidences and Causes (http://nap.edu/18730) that may shed some light: 'The impact of climate change on hurricane frequency . . . suggest that the strongest hurricanes (when they occur) are likely to become more intense and possibly larger in a warmer, moister atmosphere over the oceans.


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    Dr. Dilip Barua, Ph.D, P.Eng, M. ASCE
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Website: https://widecanvas.weebly.com
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  • 8.  RE: Enhanced Storminess and Hurricane Florence

    Posted 6 days ago
    Hurricane rating system fails to account for deadly rain

    As I mentioned above, real time reports have an effect on how the media projects a storm and the public perceives it.  Here is an interesting article simply saying our current rating system does not take into account the amount of rain or potential for flooding.  This would be an easy fix to measure and warn folks about the risks.  It would only take one organization to take the lead, NOAA, Weather Channel, or Accuweather to apply an index.  Just as Weather Channel took it upon themselves to name winter storms to raise awareness of the danger.  The media does not report return rates (25 year, 50 year, 100 year storm) until after the fact.  The public does not grasp the concept well, either.

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    Chad Morrison P.E., M.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI
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  • 9.  RE: Enhanced Storminess and Hurricane Florence

    Topic Moderator
    Posted 4 days ago
      |   view attached

    Following the comments of Chad Morrison, and in line with Alan Nelson's suggestions, I would like to add the following:

    • Chad is right. The hurricane rating system – the Saffir-Simpson Scale is long outdated. It was developed in the 1970's following the aftermath of 1969 Hurricane Camille – as a scale for assessing the anticipated damage likely caused by hurricane wind and storm surge. It became popular after its adoption as a damage forecasting tool by the National Hurricane Center – and later on worldwide.
    • Whenever a major hurricane strikes a coast, the inadequacy of the scale comes into question – and like other subjective scales like Beaufort Wind Scale or Enhanced Fujita Tornado Scale – the system is far from perfect. Because the scale does not take into account some major hurricane characteristics such as: (1) hurricane forward speed, (2) rainfall intensity, extent and duration, (3) wave action erosion and damage, (4) triggered tornados, and (5) rain flooding and damage. But on the other end, if one attempts to take account of all the characteristics, the system is likely to loose its simplicity and popular appeal. Perhaps a characterization that relates hurricane forward speed reciprocally to storm surge and rainfall would prove useful for the forecasting system.
    • But some questions are not justified; because the scale is meant only as a generally applicable forecasting tool – perhaps what can be expected as a minimum – it is neither an indication of the actual local conditions and damage, nor of actual storm surge. Perhaps it is important that forecasters and newscasters indicate the usefulness of the Saffir-Simpson Scale as a general and preliminary forecasting tool – but stressing more on the real time simulations and developments. This will help minimizing the misunderstanding of people – for example, being complacent that Hurricane Florence was downgraded to a CAT-1 event during the landfall.   
    • Similar misunderstanding arises when one refers an event to a certain return period. As an example, let us say, a 100-year event: it gives an impression that if this event occurs toady, we can feel safe that it will not occur in the next 100 years. But in reality, a 100-year event has 1% probability of occurrence in any given year.
    • I have attached a pretty image prepared by NOAA showing the past (1950 – 2009) hurricane events along the mainland US coast. Hurricanes Isabel (2003), Frances and Jeanne (2004), and Ike (2008) were my focus of attention when I studied them.


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    Dr. Dilip Barua, Ph.D, P.Eng, M. ASCE
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Website: https://widecanvas.weebly.com
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  • 10.  RE: Enhanced Storminess and Hurricane Florence

    Posted 2 hours ago
    ​I live in Wilmington, NC and we just completed initial damage assessments. Many flood damages were outside of the 100-yr floodplain, to the total surprise of the unfortunate homeowners and business owners. Correct that the public does not understand the "100-yr storm event" or floodplain at all. It is misinterpreted all the time. It is only an insurance rating tool. That's it! We need to do a better job of public education using the modeling, such as the NOAA National Storm Surge Hazard Maps and the FIMAN riverine inundation mapping system in North Carolina  NC Flood Inundation Mapping and Alert Network
    .


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    Fredric Royal P.E., M.ASCE
    Project Engineer
    Wilmington NC
    (919)369-8397
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