Climate Change. Part 21:

2017-SEP: Can government regulations help?
U.S. record high temperatures.
Hurricane Irma attacks Caribbean, FL, SC, GA.
Hurricanes Jose & Maria.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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1

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Could municipal/state/federal regulations "do something" about hurricanes?

  • As implied above, cities could maintain a minimum ratio of exposed earth to asphalt so as to not further degrade water drainage during storms.

  • There are a number of chemical plants in the Houston, TX area. One in Crosby stored chemicals on site in eight trailers that required cooling systems to preserve the chemicals' stability. A plant official said that the plant had:

    "... four layers of security for refrigeration including [two] backup [electrical] generators, liquid nitrogen and cooling containers." 2

    However, apparently, the plant needed a fifth level of security for the refrigeration, because the chemicals heated up; they become unstable; and two of the trailers burst into flames. They reached 30- to 40-foot in height and required the evacuation of 200 nearby residents. Hopefully, the federal Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] will investigate, and alter their requirements for this and similar plants, and prevent disasters like this one from occurring in the future. 3

  • Under former President Obama, new federal regulations were written to reduce the flooding risk to roads, housing, and other infrastructure projects. They would have required that projects that were built in the vicinity of a floodplain, and which receive federal funding, be built two or three feet above the 100-year flood elevation. That is, the worst flood each century would be expected to still be two or three feet below ground level as measured at the new or modified structures.

    Juliet Eilperin, writing for the Washington Post, said that on AUG-15:

    "President Trump scrapped [some] Obama-era rules. ... He said: 'This over regulated permitting process is a massive, selfinflicted wound on our country -- it’s disgraceful -- denying our people much-needed investments in their community'. ..."

    "Earlier in his tenure, Trump eliminated other policies and institutions aimed at incorporating projected climate impacts such as sea level rise and more frequent, intense storms into infrastructure planning. The National Environmental Policy Act ... which instructed agencies to review climate impacts in the construction of bridges, roads, pipelines and other projects, was revoked in March." 4

    With the massive flooding and destruction caused by Harvey, the Trump administration is apparently considering whether to review/modify/implement the Obama regulations. Tom Bossert, the White House homeland security adviser, said that in view of Harvey's destruction and the billions of dollars that the federal government will spend in Texas, that the administration:

    "... might expedite our efforts to reach coordinated consensus here as we institute policy. We don’t just want to build back faster; we want to build back better, faster and stronger." 4

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2017-SEP-01: An all-time record high temperature was reached in San Francisco, CA:

The temperature in downtown San Francisco reached 41.1 C (106 F). This was more than 17 C (30 F) above normal and is the highest temperature at that location since records were started in mid 1874 -- almost 150 years ago. The previous record was 39.4 C (103 F) during 2000-JUN-14. The National Weather Service's forecast office that serves the Bay Area referred to the event as: "incredible."

wrote an article for the Washington Post listing other record breaking high temperatures during 2017, between late May and the end of August:

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2017-SEP: Hurricane Irma attacks Florida, South Carolina and Georgia:

Only a few days after hurricane Harvey had dissipated over land, hurricane Irma, an "extremely dangerous' Category 5 storm was strengthening in the Atlantic Ocean. It was moving West towards Cuba and Florida. By SEP-05, it had become the 5th-ever strongest hurricane in the Atlantic with sustained wind speed of 180 miles/hour or 290 km/hr. The five strongest hurricanes ever in the Atlantic Basin have been:

  • Allen (1980) at 190 mph
  • Wilma (2005) at 185 mph
  • Gilbert (1988) at 185 mph
  • Labor Day (1935) at 185 mph
  • Irma (2017) at 180 mph

Rick Scott, the Governor of Florida declared a state of emergency on SEP-06 to ensure "local governments have ample time, resources and flexibility to get prepared for this dangerous storm." 6

By Sunday, SEP-10 at 5 AM ET, the eye of Irma was approaching Key West as a Category 3 storm with sustained winds of over 110 mph or 177 km/hr. It was a large storm with tropical-storm-force winds already reaching West Palm Beach and approaching Sarasota. Hurricane-force winds extended across an area about 140 miles in diameter. Major costal flooding was expected across almost all of Florida, in Georgia, and north of Charleston, SC. "Florida's southwest coast, from Cape Sable to Captiva, was expected to experience "catastrophic" storm surge flooding of 10 to 15 feet." 7

Irma settled down to a tropical storm as it passed Tallahassee, FL on Monday. SEP-11, at about 5:30 AM EST. About 5.8 million Florida homes are without electrical power. See the updating map on the New York Times web site. 3

The Chicago Tribune has a list of web cams showing feeds from various cities in Florida. Some were live; others were from previous weeks before Irma. 8

As of Tuesday, SEP-12:

  • Some of the 47 bridges that link the Florida Keys were still being checked for damage. Brock Long, who heads the Federal Emergency Management Administration, said that about 25% of the homes in the Keys were destroyed, while 65% suffered major damage.

  • More than 5.4 million Floridians were without electrical power.

  • Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry called the storm a disaster "of the magnitude we have not seen in 150 years."

  • Fort Lauderdale - Hollywood International Airport reopened; the Miami International Airport may open on SEP-12.

  • In downtown Jacksonville, FL, flooding of the St. John's river exceeded a record set by Hurricane Dora in 1965.

  • In Georgia, St. Simons and Tybee Islands remained cut off from the mainland.

  • In South Carolina, the Port of Charleston has reopened. Flooding was more extensive than was experienced during Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

  • In Alabama and Tennessee, the remains of Irma were still caused major power interruptions.

The weather channel has 559 photographs of devastation caused by Irma in places around the Caribbean and affected U.S. states. 8

ViralVideoLab posted a video on YouTube allegedly showing three sharks swimming in a flooded Miam

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