Hurricanes Pummel the Southeast

Eleanor Murray, Staff Reporter

This autumn, two powerful storms hit the East Coast. Hurricane Florence in September and Hurricane Michael in October.

Hurricane Florence made landfall on September 14, 2018 approximately at 7:15 a.m. near Wrightsville, North Carolina. It devastated homes and building. Along with the high wind speed came massive amounts of rain, causing flooding all over the states surrounding the area where Florence made landfall. There were a record 30.58 inches of rain in Swansboro, North Carolina in just a few hours, breaking the previous record of 24.06 inches, according to CNN. Hurricane Florence was one of the largest tropical systems that have ever passed through the Carolinas, causing more rainfall and flooding than any other. The death toll from this storm is over 40 and still rising, according to CBS News. Hundreds of thousands were left without power or access to basic services. This has undoubtedly been a devastating natural disaster.

According to National Geographic, the tropical system itself originated from the west coast of Africa, as most storms that affect the east coast of the USA do. These kinds of storms form because of the warmer temperature of the surface of the water near the coast of the equator. The warm air rises inside a hurricane’s funnel like a chimney. Although Florence did encounter high wind resistance, it was already powerful enough to push through, likely due to the fact that there were no land masses in its path to weaken the system, according to Sarah Gibbens of National Geographic. The storm became more powerful as it travels across the Atlantic Ocean, and it was expected to do massive amounts of damage when it made landfall.

As Hurricane Florence dispersed over land, it began to release the aforementioned rain, causing flooding in many parts of the Carolinas and Virginia. The high temperature that he system accumulated means that it could hold more precipitation and therefore released much of that water over land. Florence was soon downgraded to a tropical depression, a smaller version of a tropical storm, but it continued to release rain as it travels slowly toward the Appalachian Mountains and then north.

Following on the tail-end of the storm is October’s Hurricane Michael, which hit Florida’s Panhandle on October 10, 2018. The hurricane was classified as a Category 4 storm with winds close to 150 miles per hour. Before the hurricane struck, the National Weather Service repeated its warning, “This will be a catastrophic event the likes of which this region has never seen.” Mexico Beach, Florida bore the brunt of the storm with close to 35 people still accounted for.

The storm moved swiftly from Florida to Georgia to Virginia. In its aftermath, 18 people have been confirmed dead. FEMA arrived recently to begin the process of shelter and volunteers have been helping from search and rescue to serving hot food.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration cites human-causing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere creating an imbalance whereas the heat trapped is going into the oceans. If the rate continues to rise, hurricanes will continue to intensify in the coming decades.