Hurricane Irma is a category five storm that has been tearing through the Caribbean over the past couple days and is now on a projected path to the mainland United States. Meteorologists have been closely tracking Irma and its path as it is set to hit Florida and bordering southern states. This hurricane follows in the footsteps of Hurricane Harvey, which wreaked havoc in Houston, Texas, in late August 2017. These two hurricanes are the first major hurricanes to hit the mainland United States since Wilma in 2005, ending a 12-year drought.
Irma is the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin near the Gulf of Mexico, and is currently tied with the 1935 Labour Day hurricane as the strongest landfalling cyclone in that region. This record-breaking hurricane is potentially curving far more westward than initially projected. This means areas like Nashville are also under weather advisory and are being watched.
Hurricanes are classified by the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale (SSHWS); this scale, which uses the sustained wind speed to categorize brewing storms, analyzes hurricanes that exceed those of a tropical storm or depression. Category five, which Hurricane Irma is said to be, have sustained winds of 252 km/h or higher. As hurricanes make landfall they quickly slow as Irma moves north it is likely to fall to a category three with sustained winds between 178 208 km/h. Despite the decline, these hurricanes are still incredibly dangerous.
It is hard to predict exactly how Florida will be affected by the storm, however one can just look at the path of destruction it brought to places like St. Martin and Barbuda to understand the severity of the damage. Both countries have stated that they sustained catastrophic damage and St. Martin is said to currently be uninhabitable due to the damage the winds dealt to the surrounding area. It is important to note, however, that Florida is a state that does have plans as far as hurricane preparedness. Florida Govenor Rick Scott tweeted out a warning stating that the state level government is doing all they can to keep roads clear and to make sure people can get to safety and that they have approved emergency contracts for busses and shelters to ferry people to safety. The hurricane is not projected to hit Canadian soil, however this has not prevented Canadians from looking for a way in which they can help out. In fact, Air Canada has invoked a goodwill policy for anyone impacted by the hurricane. Stating that anyone whose flight becomes delayed, canceled or has otherwise changed may change their flight to another date free of charge. They also provided additional flights outside of the Dominican Republic and Florida among other places.
This is further proof that global warming is having a serious impact on our planet as hurricane after hurricane continue to progress. There are two clear sides to this issue. There are some who believe that the best way to secure the future of the world is to take immediate action, and there are those who believe this is simply a phase and that it shall pass. Just six years ago Scott stated in relation to his views on global warming: “No … I have not been convinced.’ When asked what he needs to convince him, ‘Something more convincing than what I’ve read.’”
This viewpoint shared by many in Scott’s Republican party seems to indicate they believe that while humanity can have some impact on the world, they can’t have so much so that we could change climate itself.
Whereas the other viewpoint seems to indicate that global warming is in fact causing these disasters and that without an effort to alleviate that effect we may lose significant portions of our world. This can be seen through many people and their actions. Notably Brock opening up a minor in Environmental Sustainability as there is interest in younger students to learn what steps need to be taken to preserve. This opinion certainly believes a course of action needs to be decided upon. Only time will tell which was correct.
While the situation is volatile and can quite possibly continue to change as the hurricane makes landfall, you can support those affected by the storm. If you’re interested in supporting a charity there are three charities who have set up relief funds: The Red Cross, the Pan American Development Foundation and Global Giving. Any amount you can offer will surely help families in need. During times like these we must reach out towards those in need and offer them our support as a nation.