The Washington Post ran a piece about Hurricane Florence (sort of) on Tuesday, Sept 11, with this headline: “Another hurricane is about to bash our coast. Trump is complicit.” And apparently the opinion writers of the Editorial Board of The Washington Post, believe that this is either true, or that it is good political fodder as the midterm elections approach. It is not enough to talk about the presence of this piece, especially when one can read it for themselves:
YET AGAIN, a massive hurricane feeding off unusually warm ocean water has the potential to stall over heavily populated areas, menacing millions of people. Last year Hurricane Harvey battered Houston. Now, Hurricane Florence threatens to drench already waterlogged swaths of the East Coast, including the nation’s capital . If the Category 4 hurricane does, indeed, hit the Carolinas this week, it will be the strongest storm on record to land so far north.
Yet when it comes to extreme weather, Mr. Trump is complicit. He plays down humans’ role in increasing the risks, and he continues to dismantle efforts to address those risks. It is hard to attribute any single weather event to climate change. But there is no reasonable doubt that humans are priming the Earth’s systems to produce disasters.
Kevin Trenberth, a climate researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, co-wrote a May paper showing that Harvey’s cataclysmic wetness came from the unusually hot Gulf of Mexico water that fed the hurricane before it slammed into Texas. “Harvey could not have produced so much rain without human-induced climate change,” he and his colleagues concluded. Now Florence is feasting on warm Atlantic Ocean water. “The ocean is warming up systematically,” Mr. Trenberth said, explaining that, though natural variation can turn surface temperatures up or down a bit, the oceans’ energy content is inexorably rising. “It is the strongest signal of global warming,” Mr. Trenberth added.
Scientists also warn that climate change may be slowing the wind currents that guide hurricanes, making storms more sluggish and, therefore, apt to linger longer over disaster zones. Tropical cyclone movement has slowed all over the planet. Harvey’s stubborn refusal to leave the Houston area was a decisive factor in its destructiveness. Florence may behave similarly.
And human-caused sea-level rise encourages higher storm surges and fewer natural barriers between water and people.
With depressingly ironic timing, the Trump administration announced Tuesday a plan to roll back federal rules on methane, a potent greenhouse gas that is the main component in natural gas. Drillers and transporters of the fuel were supposed to be more careful about letting it waft into the atmosphere, which is nothing more than rank resource waste that also harms the environment. The Trump administration has now attacked all three pillars of President Barack Obama’s climate-change plan.
The president has cemented the GOP’s legacy as one of reaction and reality denial. Sadly, few in his party appear to care.
When this piece was written, Hurricane Florence was a firm Category 4 hurricane with sustained windspeeds of 140mph. It must have seemed like a good idea to use this offering of Mother Nature as fodder to slam the President for yet another spurious claim to prove that the world is just simply falling apart because “somehow, this imposter got elected President instead of Hillary Clinton.”
But on Thursday midday, the storm, though physically expanded, was much weaker, and apparently in the throes of falling apart. Hopefully the objective analysis of the National Hurricane Center has something to offer as to the reasons why this storm that is Trump’s fault is now weakening. Maybe it is because of progressives like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders and Andrew Gillum doing well in progressive races? Let’s find out:
Hurricane Florence Discussion Number 57
NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL AL062018
1100 AM EDT Thu Sep 13 2018
The satellite and radar presentations of Florence have improved somewhat this morning, with a 20-25 nmi wide eye closing off in the radar data from the Morehead City and Wilmington WSR-88D Doppler weather radars. However, an Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft investigating the hurricane this morning has not yet found any flight-level or SFMR winds to support more than about 80 kt at the surface thus far, even though the pressure has decreased to 955 mb. The initial intensity has only been lowered to 90 kt, given that there are peak Doppler velocity values up to 110 kt with average values of 95-97 kt at 15,000 ft in the northern eyewall region, an area of the hurricane that the reconnaissance aircraft has not yet sampled. The upper-level outflow pattern remains quite impressive.
Florence has been gradually slowing down this morning, and the initial motion estimate is now 315/09 kt. The subtropical ridge to the northeast and east of Florence is now well-established between Bermuda and the U.S. mid-Atlantic region and extends westward into Virginia and the central Appalachians. This large-scale feature is expected to keep the hurricane moving northwestward today, followed by a turn toward the west at a much slower speed on Friday as the ridge to the north of Florence weakens due to a weak shortwave trough dropping slowly southward from the Ohio Valley. On days 3-5, Florence is forecast turn toward the northwest and north around the western periphery of the subtropical ridge, and move across western South Carolina on Sunday, across western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee on Monday, and then move up the spine of the Appalachians as an extratropical low after the cyclone merges or interacts with a frontal system. The new NHC forecast track is similar to the previous one, and lies close to a blend of the consensus models TVCA, HCCA, and FSSE.
Florence is currently approaching the Gulfstream current, and the hurricane is forecast to move over warmer and deeper waters in 6-12 hours, which could allow for some slight strengthening. Just prior to landfall in about 24 hours, Florence is expected to weaken some due to upwelling of the shallow coastal waters. After landfall occurs, rapid weaning of the stronger inner-core wind field is expected to due land interaction and Florence’s slow forward speed of 5 kt or less. However, intense rainbands are expected to develop over the Atlantic waters and keep moving along the coast and inland, likely producing strong wind gusts through Saturday night.
Aircraft and satellite wind data show that Florence remains a large hurricane. Life-threatening storm surge, heavy rainfall, and damaging wind will cover a large area regardless of exactly where the center of Florence moves.
Interesting. Not one mention of politics. What this discussion does say is that the storm seems to be reorganizing slightly (the eye had lost its closed feature but has now regained it), and that the hurricane hunter plane was not able to find evidence for winds stronger than 80 knots (92 mph). This is still strong wind, of course, but it is not 140 mph. Most structures along the US coasts are well able to handle 92 mph winds and much higher than that.
In other words, Florence is no longer quite the potential poster child of the Democrat party that it was two days ago. The charge that the Washington Post tried to lay on President Trump was that his environmental policies are the reason for this hurricane’s existence. Concurrent articles by other climate-change proponents also were written about Florence to try to bolster the narrative.
Conservative strategist Chris Barron told Fox News that the mainstream media ‘finds new ways to embarrass themselves and further erode Americans confidence in them” on a daily basis.
“This column is so absurd it should be coming from The Onion, not The Washington Post. To the extent that climate change is happening, it is a global phenomenon that has been occurring for decades and decades,” Barron said. “The media won’t give Trump credit for the economy but they will blame him for a hurricane. You can’t make this stuff up.”
While anything remains possible, the possibilities do not seem to bear any preference for who the US president is, or what the political view du jour is, either. And whatever the impacts of Florence become, the assessment of how local, state and federal resources are deployed to assist in the recovery or rescue of anyone threatened by this storm are real benchmarks that President Trump as well as other government officials can be judged by. This storm is arriving at a region of the country rather well-prepared for it, since the warnings began in earnest four days ago. This preparation already speaks well of the ability of the authorities to respond to this crisis.