Hurricane Sandy’s Effects on Our Crops
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As the United States picks up the pieces after Hurricane Sandy’s wrath today, there’s a growing concern about the long-term effects on some of the nation’s largest food crops. While preparations for the storm were just getting underway in the Northeast, Hurricane Sandy swept through the Southern Hemisphere’s Caribbean islands in full force, bringing viciously strong winds and rainfall that destroyed homes, crops, and many lives.
Hundreds of thousands in the Caribbean are left without homes or food, and while the United States deals with similar, although not quite as devastating, circumstances, the world may face the impact of Hurricane Sandy in weeks to come, as many Caribbean government officials have expressed concern for their agricultural economy, both commercial and subsistence farming.
In Haiti, the government was already bracing itself for civilian unrest due to the rising food costs, which were worsened when Hurricane Isaac destroyed a large amount of the nation’s crops earlier in 2012. Now, in Sandy’s wake, the majority of Haiti’s crops have been destroyed, creating possible food shortages and driving food costs even higher.
Along with Haiti, Cuba also experienced a large amount of damage to their coffee crops from Hurricane Sandy, destroying 20 to 30 percent of coffee farms. With the peak of the coffee season in October and November, Cuba will experience a major setback in their production of coffee crops, and will also suffer from the effects of damages to many renovations that were taking place on older plantations. In Jamaica, Hurricane Sandy has affected more than 11,000 farmers, with the biggest impact on banana crops. Several farmers in the St. Mary parish have claimed that nearly 100 percent of their banana farms have been destroyed, estimated at $1.5 million.
Millions are dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and are faced with problems as they try to find food, shelter, and electricity, but as the weeks pass, we may see a broader effect on our food crops and their cost.
Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce
Effects of Global Warming
Global warming is expected to have far-reaching, long-lasting and, in many cases, devastating consequences for planet Earth.
Global warming, the gradual heating of Earth's surface, oceans and atmosphere, is caused by human activity, primarily the burning of fossil fuels that pump carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Despite political controversy about climate change, a major report released Sept. 27, 2013, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that scientists are more certain than ever of the link between human activities and global warming. More than 197 international scientific organizations agree that global warming is real and has been caused by human action.
Already, global warming is having a measurable effect on the planet.
"We can observe this happening in real time in many places. Ice is melting in both polar ice caps and mountain glaciers. Lakes around the world, including Lake Superior, are warming rapidly — in some cases faster than the surrounding environment. Animals are changing migration patterns and plants are changing the dates of activity," such as trees budding their leaves earlier in the spring and dropping them later in the fall, Josef Werne, a professor of geology and environmental science at the University of Pittsburgh, told Live Science.
Here is an in-depth look at the changes wrought by global warming.
Are the Effects of Global Warming Really that Bad?
Eight degrees Fahrenheit. It may not sound like much—perhaps the difference between wearing a sweater and not wearing one on an early-spring day. But for the world in which we live, which climate experts project will be at least eight degrees warmer by 2100 should global emissions continue on their current path, this small rise will have grave consequences, ones that are already becoming apparent, for every ecosystem and living thing—including us.
According to the National Climate Assessment, human influences are the number one cause of global warming, especially the carbon pollution we cause by burning fossil fuels and the pollution-capturing we prevent by destroying forests. The carbon dioxide, methane, soot, and other pollutants we release into the atmosphere act like a blanket, trapping the sun's heat and causing the planet to warm. Evidence shows that 2000 to 2009 was hotter than any other decade in at least the past 1,300 years. This warming is altering the earth's climate system, including its land, atmosphere, oceans, and ice, in far-reaching ways.
More frequent and severe weather
Higher temperatures are worsening many types of disasters, including storms, heat waves, floods, and droughts. A warmer climate creates an atmosphere that can collect, retain, and drop more water, changing weather patterns in such a way that wet areas become wetter and dry areas drier. "Extreme weather events are costing more and more," says Aliya Haq, deputy director of NRDC's Clean Power Plan initiative. "The number of billion-dollar weather disasters is expected to rise."
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in 2015 there were 10 weather and climate disaster events in the United States—including severe storms, floods, drought, and wildfires—that caused at least $1 billion in losses. For context, each year from 1980 to 2015 averaged $5.2 billion in disasters (adjusted for inflation). If you zero in on the years between 2011 and 2015, you see an annual average cost of $10.8 billion.
The increasing number of droughts, intense storms, and floods we're seeing as our warming atmosphere holds—and then dumps—more moisture poses risks to public health and safety, too. Prolonged dry spells mean more than just scorched lawns. Drought conditions jeopardize access to clean drinking water, fuel out-of-control wildfires, and result in dust storms, extreme heat events, and flash flooding in the States. Elsewhere around the world, lack of water is a leading cause of death and serious disease. At the opposite end of the spectrum, heavier rains cause streams, rivers, and lakes to overflow, which damages life and property, contaminates drinking water, creates hazardous-material spills, and promotes mold infestation and unhealthy air. A warmer, wetter world is also a boon for food-borne and waterborne illnesses and disease-carrying insects such as mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks.
Higher death rates
Today's scientists point to climate change as "the biggest global health threat of the 21st century." It's a threat that impacts all of us—especially children, the elderly, low-income communities, and minorities—and in a variety of direct and indirect ways. As temperatures spike, so does the incidence of illness, emergency room visits, and death.
"There are more hot days in places where people aren't used to it," Haq says. "They don't have air-conditioning or can't afford it. One or two days isn't a big deal. But four days straight where temperatures don't go down, even at night, leads to severe health consequences." In the United States, hundreds of heat-related deaths occur each year due to direct impacts and the indirect effects of heat-exacerbated, life-threatening illnesses, such as heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and cardiovascular and kidney diseases. Indeed, extreme heat kills more Americans each year, on average, than hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and lightning combined.
Rising temperatures also worsen air pollution by increasing ground level ozone, which is created when pollution from cars, factories, and other sources react to sunlight and heat. Ground-level ozone is the main component of smog, and the hotter things get, the more of it we have. Dirtier air is linked to higher hospital admission rates and higher death rates for asthmatics. It worsens the health of people suffering from cardiac or pulmonary disease. And warmer temperatures also significantly increase airborne pollen, which is bad news for those who suffer from hay fever and other allergies.
Higher wildlife extinction rates
As humans, we face a host of challenges, but we're certainly not the only ones catching heat. As land and sea undergo rapid changes, the animals that inhabit them are doomed to disappear if they don't adapt quickly enough. Some will make it, and some won't. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 2014 assessment, many land, freshwater, and ocean species are shifting their geographic ranges to cooler climes or higher altitudes, in an attempt to escape warming. They're changing seasonal behaviors and traditional migration patterns, too. And yet many still face "increased extinction risk due to climate change." Indeed, a 2015 study showed that vertebrate species—animals with backbones, like fish, birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles—are disappearing 114 times faster than they should be, a phenomenon that has been linked to climate change, pollution, and deforestation.
More acidic oceans
The earth's marine ecosystems are under pressure as a result of climate change. Oceans are becoming more acidic, due in large part to their absorption of some of our excess emissions. As this acidification accelerates, it poses a serious threat to underwater life, particularly creatures with calcium carbonate shells or skeletons, including mollusks, crabs, and corals. This can have a huge impact on shellfisheries. Indeed, as of 2015, acidification is believed to have cost the Pacific Northwest oyster industry nearly $110 million. Coastal communities in 15 states that depend on the $1 billion nationwide annual harvest of oysters, clams, and other shelled mollusks face similar long-term economic risks.
Higher sea levels
The polar regions are particularly vulnerable to a warming atmosphere. Average temperatures in the Arctic are rising twice as fast as they are elsewhere on earth, and the world's ice sheets are melting fast. This not only has grave consequences for the region's people, wildlife, and plants its most serious impact may be on rising sea levels. By 2100, it's estimated our oceans will be one to four feet higher, threatening coastal systems and low-lying areas, including entire island nations and the world's largest cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and Miami as well as Mumbai, Sydney, and Rio de Janeiro.
There's no question: Climate change promises a frightening future, and it's too late to turn back the clock. We've already taken care of that by pumping a century's worth of pollution into the air nearly unchecked. "Even if we stopped all carbon dioxide emissions tomorrow, we'd still see some effects," Haq says. That, of course, is the bad news. But there's also good news. By aggressively reducing our global emissions now, "we can avoid a lot of the severe consequences that climate change would otherwise bring," says Haq.
The number of weather and climate disasters in the U.S. in the past three years (2018 to 2020) with losses exceeding $1 billion.
The total approximate cost of damages from weather and climate disasters in the U.S. from 1980 to 2020.
The average annual number of weather and climate disasters from 2015 to 2020. In 2020 alone, the U.S. experienced 22 billion-dollar disasters.
New Annual Record: The Year in Review
2020 set a new record for events, with 22 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters—shattering the previous annual record of 16 events in 2011 and 2017. 2020 was the sixth consecutive year in which 10 or more billion-dollar disaster events occurred in the U.S.
There were 13 severe storms, seven tropical cyclones, one drought, and one wildfire event in 2020, for a total cost of $95 billion. These events resulted in the deaths of 262 people.
2020: Historically Active
The 2020 hurricane season got off to an early start, with Hurricane Hanna making landfall on Padre Island, Texas, on July 25, with sustained winds of 90 miles per hour. With the formation of Tropical Storm Wilfred on September 18, the 21-name Atlantic list was officially exhausted. For only the second time in history, the Greek alphabet was used for the remainder of the season, extending through the ninth name on the list: Iota.
Hurricane Laura: Hurricane Laura—a powerful category 4 that made landfall in southwestern Louisiana on August 27—was the most expensive weather event of the year, costing $19 billion. Winds up to 150 mph and storm surge in excess of 15 feet caused heavy damage along the coast and inland. Laura was the strongest hurricane (by maximum sustained wind speed at landfall) to hit Louisiana since the 1856 Last Island hurricane. Laura also had highest landfall wind speed to affect the U.S. since Hurricane Michael in 2018. There were additional impacts to surrounding states, including Texas, Mississippi, and Arkansas.
Six weeks later, Hurricane Delta, a category 2, made landfall in nearly the same location as Hurricane Laura, with winds of 100 miles per hour and total costs of $2.9 billion.
Hurricane Sally: Hurricane Sally was a category 2 when it made landfall in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Wind gusts up to 100 miles per hour and up to 30 inches of rainfall caused considerable flood and wind damage across Alabama, the Florida panhandle, and into Georgia. 2020 became the fourth consecutive year that the U.S. was impacted by a slow-moving tropical cyclone that produced extreme rainfall and damaging floods (Harvey, Florence, Imelda, and Sally, respectively).
10 in a Row
2020 marked the tenth consecutive year with eight or more billion-dollar disasters.
2018 and 2019: $136 Billion in Damages
2018 and 2019 each saw 14 billion-dollar weather disaster. Associated losses for 2018 were estimated at $91 billion and for 2019 were $45 billion—for a combined total of $136 billion.
Hurricane Dorian: After devastating the Bahamas (as the worst natural disaster in the country’s history) in early September 2019, Dorian made landfall on the Outer Banks of North Carolina on September 6 as a category 1 hurricane. Dorian's intensification to a category 5 storm marked the fourth consecutive year in which a maximum category 5 storm developed in the Atlantic basin—a new record. Dorian also tied the record for maximum sustained wind speed for a landfalling hurricane in the Atlantic (at 185 miles per hour), sharing the record with the historic 1935 Labor Day Hurricane.
Hurricane Florence: Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, on September 14, 2018 and became one of the deadliest and costliest hurricanes to ever impact the Carolinas. It caused at least 51 deaths and record flooding.
Hurricane Michael: Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida on October 10, 2018, with sustained winds of 155 miles per hour. It was the most intense hurricane on record to make landfall along the Florida Panhandle, and caused at least 45 deaths—as well as widespread devastation—across the Panhandle, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia.
Western Wildfires: Two wildfires impacted California in early November 2018 the Camp Fire burned more than 153,000 acres, caused at least 88 fatalities, and destroyed more than 18,000 structures in Northern California. It was the most destructive and deadliest wildfire on record in California, and the deadliest wildfire in the U.S. since 1918. In Southern California, the Woolsey Fire destroyed more than 1,500 structures and killed at least three people in and around Malibu.
2017: Highest Costs Ever
The cumulative costs of the 16 separate billion-dollar weather events in the U.S. in 2017 was $306.2 billion, breaking the previous cost record of $214.8 billion (2005). It is estimated that Hurricane Harvey alone had total costs of $125 billion—second only to Hurricane Katrina in the period of record, which had an approximate cost of $161 billion.
Harvey, Irma, and Maria: Making History
The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was among the top seven most intense ever recorded. Record-breaking statistics, in addition to costs, include the following:
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Hurricane Harvey: Harvey was the most significant tropical cyclone rainfall event ever recorded in U.S. history, both in scope and peak rainfall amounts. The highest storm total rainfall report from Harvey was 60.58 inches. Prior to Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Harvey became the deadliest U.S. hurricane in terms of direct deaths since Sandy (2012) and the deadliest hurricane to hit Texas since 1919. It was the first category 4 hurricane to make landfall in Texas since 1961, and the first category 4 to make landfall in the U.S. since 2004. Harvey lasted 117 hours, beating the previous record for duration of Hurricane Fern in 1971.
Hurricane Irma: With maximum winds of 185 miles per hour, Irma became the strongest storm on record to exist in the Atlantic Ocean outside of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. It sustained those maximum winds speeds for 37 hours and spent three consecutive days as a category 5 hurricane—making it the longest of any cyclone in the world since 1932 to maintain that intensity. The occurrences of Harvey and Irma—making landfall within two weeks of each other—were the first time in recorded history that two category 4 or higher hurricanes struck the U.S. mainland in the same year.
Hurricane Maria: Maria was the first category 5 hurricane ever to make landfall in Dominica, and the strongest hurricane to make landfall in Puerto Rico since 1928. It was the deadliest of 2017’s three major storm, with over 2,900 fatalities.
NOAA said that the 2018 season will be remembered most for Hurricanes Florence and Michael. There were 15 named storms and eight hurricanes, two above Category 3. An average season has 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. Florence and Michael caused $49 billion in damage.
The 2017 hurricane season was particularly harsh. The season had 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes, and six major hurricanes (including Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico and the Caribbean). The combined cost of three major hurricanes that landed on U.S. shores (including territories)—Harvey, Irma, and Maria—was $265 billion.
How Do Hurricanes Affect the Environment?
Hurricanes can devastate wooded ecosystems and remove all the foliation from forest canopies, and they can change habitats so drastically that the indigenous animal populations suffer as a result. Endangered species in tropical, estuarine and coastal habitats are particularly at risk when hurricanes strike.
The winds from hurricanes deliver the most visible environmental impact. Flying over a rainforest after a hurricane often reveals that the canopy layer is completely gone, which impacts the lives of birds and animals that had formerly used the area directly beneath that canopy as their habitat. Wooded areas, such as swamps and marshes, undergo significant destruction as winds uproot and demolish trees.
Storm surge and considerable rainfall combine with the strong winds to threaten the food supply that is available to remaining animals not killed by the storm. When Hurricane Hugo hit Puerto Rico in 1989, half of the remaining Puerto Rican parrots in the world died in the storm. The Cozumel Thrasher, which only lives on the Mexican island of Cozumel, almost became extinct after Hurricane Gilbert hit the island in 1988.
Hurricanes also change the shape of coastal landscapes by shifting huge amounts of sand. Hurricanes in 2004, 2005 and 2008 caused major shifts in the Gulf of Mexico's coast between Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which both hit in 2005, about 73 square miles of land were lost to the sea.
Hurricane Camille - August 17, 1969
Late in the evening on August 17 in 1969, Hurricane Camille made landfall along the Mississippi Gulf Coast near Waveland, MS. Camille is one of only FOUR Category 5 hurricanes ever to make landfall in the continental United States (Atlantic Basin) - the others being the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, which impacted the Florida Keys Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which impacted south Florida and Hurricane Michael in 2018, which impacted the Florida panhandle. (Note: It is worth mentioning that the 1928 San Felipe Hurricane made landfall as a Category 5 Hurricane on Puerto Rico)
Camille ranks as the 2nd most intense hurricane to strike the continental US with 900 mb pressure and landfall intensity of 150 knots. Camille ranks just below the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane with 892 mb and 160 knots, while slightly stronger than Hurricane Andrew with 922 mb and 145 knots and Hurricane Michael with 919 mb and 140 knots. The actual maximum sustained winds of Hurricane Camille are not known as the hurricane destroyed all the wind-recording instruments in the landfall area. Re-analysis data found peak winds of 150 knots (roughly 175 mph) along the coast. A devastating storm tide of 24.6 feet occurred west of our area in Pass Christian, MS.
Hurricane Camille impacted the entire region, especially counties across southeast Mississippi and southwest Alabama in our area. Counties in southeast Mississippi had the greatest damage due to the proximity to Camille's path across the state of Mississippi. Winds gusted to 100 mph across much of southern Mississippi. Moderate wind damage extended inland to Stone and George Counties in Mississippi with minor damage further inland, mainly restricted to fallen trees and power lines. Further east from the path of Camille, hurricane force winds were reported on Dauphin Island and along the coast of Grand Bay and Portersville Bay. No reporting station across the Florida panhandle observed hurricane force winds.
Most property damage along the immediate coast was caused by high water. The water was estimated at nearly 10 feet above the astronomical tide on the night of August 17th through the 18th along Dauphin Island and coastal Mobile County. Further east, the storm tide was estimated at 6.3 feet above astronomical tide in the Pensacola area, 4.5 feet above astronomical tide across coastal Santa Rosa County and 4.0 feet above astronomical tide across coastal Okaloosa County. A few of the high water marks from the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Report on Hurricane Camille in 1970 were
The greatest damage across our area was found in southeast Mississippi, Dauphin Island, the Alabama coastline, and the Mobile metro area. Damage consisted of roof damage, partial destruction of buildings, fallen trees and washed out roads across Mobile and Baldwin Counties in southwest Alabama and Stone and George Counties in southeast Mississippi. Power lines and trees were down across the entire area. There was extensive damage sustained to the motels, restaurants, service stations and fishing camps along the Causeway (Highway 90) over Mobile Bay. Sections of roads in southern Mobile County and on Dauphin Island were completely washed out or covered in sand according to the USACE report.
Crop damage was extensive across southeast Mississippi with the total destruction of many tung and pecan orchards. Crop damage across south Alabama was limited to Baldwin, Mobile and western Washington Counties. Pecans, soybean and corn crops were damaged or destroyed. Pecan damage was extensive and approximately 20,000 acres of corn was flattened. It was estimated that 90% of crop damage across the area was due to the wind while 10% was due to the rain. Total property damage for the Florida panhandle, including beach erosion and crop losses, were estimated near 1/2 million dollars (1969 value, not current conversion value) with the major portion of the damage in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties.
Based on preliminary data from the NWS, here is a brief timeline of some of the damage and path of Camille:
August 17, 1969
450pm - Hangar wall blown down at the Fairhope Airport in Fairhope, AL
530pm - Tornado reported in Waynesboro, MS
600pm - Streets completely covered with water in Bayou La Batre, AL
630pm - Tornado reported in Pensacola, FL earlier in the afternoon
930pm - Violent winds observed along coast
1000pm - 62 mph wind observed in Mobile, AL
1130pm - Power lines down throughout Mobile County, AL
August 18, 1969
1245am - Eye of Camille moved over McHenry, MS
120am - 74 mph wind observed in Mobile, AL
More Information (Technical Papers and Assessments)
RECENT REANALYSIS RESEARCH
A Reanalysis of Hurricane Camille - Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society
Authors: Margaret E. Kieper (FIU), Christopher W. Landsea & John L. Beven (NHC)
Supplement: Re-Constructed Radar Loop of Hurricane Camille
US Army Corps of Engineers - Hurricane Camille
Acknowledgements: Page created by Morgan Barry (Forecaster) , Jason Beaman (WCM) and Don Shepherd (senior forecaster, Tropical Focal Point).
FEMA is a team of federal leaders who support people and communities by providing experience, perspective, and resources in emergency management. Each employee finds strength and value from their role at FEMA, whether they are helping others in the office or in the field.
The FEMA Administrator is the principal advisor to the President, the Homeland Security Council, and the Secretary of Homeland Security for all matters relating to emergency management in the United States.
8 Watch your health
Warmer winters mean fewer deaths among the old, but far more heart and respiratory diseases in the hot summer nights. Even worse, the warmer, wetter conditions will encourage the fungal, algal, tick-and-mosquito-borne diseases we usually only see in the tropics: Dengue fever was detected in France and Croatia in 2010 West Nile virus and Rift valley fever have become common in the US and a 4C increase in Britain probably means malaria-carrying mosquitoes, and ticks infected with Lyme disease. Equally possibly, the already crumbling system of urban drains is likely to be overwhelmed by extreme weather events, which will discharge pathogens into heavily used rivers and seas, possibly heralding the return of diseases such as typhus.
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