Hurricane Ida So Strong It Briefly Changed The Direction Of The Mississippi River — A Preview Of Storms To Come

August 29, 2021

Another heavy-air scorcher this late-afternoon Sunday here in California’s Central Valley, though, skies today were a little less rusty-brown with the onset of some decent winds which kept the sunshine fairly-bright and a sharper yellow.
Supposedly more of the same tomorrow, with a cooling trend (under 100-degrees) expected mid-week.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Ida is creating chaos in Louisiana, surrounding areas, and all along the north coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The disaster will be in focus in daylight tomorrow (ABC News): ‘Ida has weakened from a Category 4 to a Category 3 hurricane Sunday evening as it pummels Louisiana with dangerous wind, rain and storm surge. In Shell Beach, Louisiana, the storm surge reached over 8 feet.

A look inside the monstrosity of Ida:

Odd, too, today is the 16th anniversary of Katrina. And in keeping with odd, Ida’s power was indeed monstrous — from Gizmodo about half-an-hour ago:

The incredible power of Hurricane Ida was on display on Sunday as the storm reversed the course of the mighty Mississippi.

The river temporarily flowed from south to north on Sunday afternoon after Ida made landfall as a Category 4 storm that underwent rapid intensification.
Data from the U.S. Geological Survey shows that a river gauge at Belle Chasse, just southeast of New Orleans, recorded the stunning about-face of the Mississippi River.

The Mississippi was discharging roughly 350,000 cubic feet (9,910 cubic meters) of water per second in the days prior to Ida’s arrival. Water moved upstream at a rate of 40,000 cubic feet (1,132 cubic meters) per second. That’s a staggering amount of water to turn around.
Ida is expected to push 16 feet (5 meters) of storm surge inland, with the highest inundation covering an area from the petrochemical hub of Port Fourchon to the mouth of the Mississippi.
The turnaround of the river is indicative of how powerful that surge has been.

It’s a phenomenon we’ve seen with other storms, notably Hurricane Florence in 2018. That contributed to what’s known as compound flooding where storm surge pushes water inland where rain is falling.
With water pushing ashore, there’s nowhere for the rain to drain.
With Ida, that could become a bigger concern as day turns into evening and the storm lingers.
The National Hurricane Center noted in its most recent forecast discussion that “Ida’s forward motion has slowed.” Slower motion means bands of rain can repeatedly sweep over a given location, leading to higher rainfall totals and more flooding.

Despite spending hours over land, Ida has also failed to weaken substantially.
The storm is also still packing winds of 130 mph (209 kph), owing in part to what’s referred to as the brown ocean effect, which occurs when storms are able to suck up moisture from the land itself and maintain their strength even as they move inland. (The effect has even helped sustain a tropical cyclone all the way to the Great Lakes, albeit in a much weaker state than Ida.)

And with all that surging power and slowness of discharge, Ida will cause destruction even up into New England, the object-subject area of another hurricane just last week — an event exposing a right-now-immediate future:

On par with sounding like a broken, scratchy record — the situation will only get worse as our environment warms and warms. Ida just follows Laura:

And the reality is obvious now, with real-time research — via Mother Jones yesterday:

Hurricanes are expected in hurricane season, but read the explanations of Ida and something else stands out: Ida is going to be a lot worse than it would have been, because the Gulf of Mexico is really warm right now.
At Sarasota Magazine, Bob Bunting offers a good explanation of what “extremely warm” means in this case, pointing to NOAA data (and handy maps) showing that “the Gulf is up to 8°F warmer than it should be this time of the year.”
I won’t try to get into the mechanics of how hurricanes work, but suffice to say that hotter water temperatures correlate with more severe storms.

And that’s the ominous story underlying the immediate story here, because the Gulf of Mexico is getting warmer.
A 2017 study of the potential impacts of warming water temperatures on Gulf storms found that the region might be due for fewer hurricanes overall, but the ones that did hit would be more damaging—specifically, “an increased proportion of category 3, 4, and 5 storms.”

Hurricanes, of course, are a longstanding thing, and the explanations for their prevalence or size are complicated. But Ida’s emergence, one year after the United States set a record with 22 billion-dollar weather events — as fires rage out west and flash floods wreak havoc in Tennessee and New York — is nonetheless an image of a future that’s already here.
We are, and increasingly will be, confronted with the sorts of disasters that our existing infrastructure and routines were not set up to absorb.

In a lot of locations, maybe most locations, time has already run out — the second hand unwinds.
Climate-change behaviors intensify already shitty weather — from The New York Times this morning:

Scientists say that unusually warm Atlantic surface temperatures have helped to increase storm activity.
“It’s very likely that human-caused climate change contributed to that anomalously warm ocean,” said James P. Kossin, a climate scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“Climate change is making it more likely for hurricanes to behave in certain ways.”

And those ways — first, wind:

There’s a solid scientific consensus that hurricanes are becoming more powerful.
Hurricanes are complex, but one of the key factors that determines how strong a given storm ultimately becomes is ocean surface temperature, because warmer water provides more of the energy that fuels storms.

“Potential intensity is going up,” said Kerry Emanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“We predicted it would go up 30 years ago, and the observations show it going up.”

Stronger winds mean downed power lines, damaged roofs and, when paired with rising sea levels, worse coastal flooding.

“Even if storms themselves weren’t changing, the storm surge is riding on an elevated sea level,” Dr. Emanuel said.
He used New York City as an example, where sea levels have risen about a foot in the past century.
“If Sandy’s storm surge had occurred in 1912 rather than 2012,” he said, “it probably wouldn’t have flooded Lower Manhattan.”

More Rain:

Warming also increases the amount of water vapor that the atmosphere can hold. In fact, every degree Celsius of warming allows the air to hold about 7-percent more water.
That means we can expect future storms to unleash higher amounts of rainfall.

Slower storm tracks:

Researchers do not yet know why storms are moving more slowly, but they are. Some say a slowdown in global atmospheric circulation, or global winds, could be partly to blame.

In a 2018 paper, Dr. Kossin found that hurricanes over the United States had slowed 17 percent since 1947. Combined with the increase in rain rates, storms are causing a 25 percent increase in local rainfall in the United States, he said.

Slower, wetter storms also worsen flooding. Dr. Kossin likened the problem to walking around your back yard while using a hose to spray water on the ground. If you walk fast, the water won’t have a chance to start pooling. But if you walk slowly, he said, “you’ll get a lot of rain below you.”

Wide-ass size:

Because warmer water helps fuel hurricanes, climate change is enlarging the zone where hurricanes can form.
There’s a “migration of tropical cyclones out of the tropics and toward subtropics and middle latitudes,” Dr. Kossin said. That could mean more storms making landfall in higher latitudes, like in the United States or Japan.

And way-more fierce:

In a 2017 paper based on climate and hurricane models, Dr. Emanuel found that storms that intensify rapidly — the ones that increase their wind speed by 70 miles per hour or more in the 24 hours before landfall — were rare in the period from 1976 through 2005.
On average, he estimated, their likelihood in those years was equal to about once per century.

By the end of the 21st century, he found, those storms might form once every five or 10 years.
“It’s a forecaster’s nightmare,” Dr. Emanuel said. If a tropical storm or Category 1 hurricane develops into a Category 4 hurricane overnight, he said, “there’s no time to evacuate people.”

Weather influenced by climate change should be the main topic, period. However, a way-lot more shit churns the news waves despite real waves be churning so bad, it can change the direction of the Mississippi fuckin’ River.
Memories of furious storms past while frightfully waiting for the future — even tough guys are scaredy-cats with a hurricane:

“Listen to it…”

(Illustration out front: ‘Shelter in the Storm,” found here).

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