The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Strange Days: Ex-Hurricane Ophelia Batters Ireland Under Orange Skies
By Dr. Jeff Masters and Bob Henson
Ex-Hurricane Ophelia hit Ireland hard with full hurricane-like fury on Monday, bringing powerful winds that caused widespread damage and power outages. At least two deaths have been reported from trees falling on cars, and The Irish Times said at least 360,000 ESB Networks customers lost power in Ireland because of the storm.
Ophelia's center crossed the southwest coast of Ireland near 11:30 UTC Monday (12:30 p.m. local time), just 12 hours after the National Hurricane Center (NHC) stopped issuing advisories on the Category 1 hurricane. NHC's last advisory at 11 p.m. EDT Sunday gave top sustained winds of 85 mph to the storm, and ex-Hurricane Ophelia weakened only slightly before making landfall on Monday morning in Ireland. The storm took only about four hours to cross Ireland, and emerged from the north coast at approximately 15:30 UTC (11:30 a.m. EDT) Monday.
Wind and Storm Surge Observations
Ophelia brought winds typical of what we see from a landfalling Category 1 hurricane. Sustained winds of 50 mph were recorded at Cork at 10:30 - 11:30 a.m. local time, and 54 mph at Shannon at 12:30 p.m. local time. (Note that sustained 10-minute winds are different from the 1-minute averaging time used by the National Hurricane Center and at U.S. airports to define sustained winds; 10-minute average winds need to be adjusted upwards by a correction factor ranging from 7 percent to 12 percent to get 1-minute average winds). Some peak wind gusts recorded on Monday:
- Fastnet Island, Ireland: 119 mph
- Roches Point, Ireland: 97 mph
- Waterford, Ireland: 85 mph
- Cork, Ireland: 78 mph
- Shannon, Ireland: 76 mph
- St. Mary's Island, United Kingdom: 70 mph
- Dublin, Ireland: 64 mph
- Pembry, United Kingdom: 60 mph
Ophelia brought a storm surge that breached coastal defenses and flooded roads in Salthill on the western coast of Ireland, according to this video.
Figure 2: MODIS satellite image of Ex-Hurricane Ophelia at approximately 10 a.m. EDT Oct. 16, about 3 hours after it made landfall over southwestern Ireland. Note the brownish hue to the clouds over the U.K. on the right side of the image, due to African dust and smoke from wildfires in Portugal and Spain being drawn into the storm's circulation. NASA
A Surreal Day in Ireland
The surreal experience of a hurricane-like storm in Ireland was made even more strange by being preceded by an eerie sunrise that brought a hazy, orange sky across much of Ireland and Britain. The orange light was filtering through a thick layer of Saharan dust that had been transported to the north by the trough of low pressure that steered Ophelia northwards. Adding to the haze was smoke from wildfires in Portugal and Spain that killed at least 32 people over the weekend.
Europe May See an Increase in Strong Ex-Hurricanes in the Future
Ophelia's ascension to Category 3 status and subsequent impact on Ireland just 12 hours after becoming an ex-hurricane was made possible, in large part, by unusually warm ocean temperatures that were 1 – 2°C (1.8 – 3.6°F) above average. As the planet continues to warm due to the effects of human-caused global warming, we should expect to see more hurricanes maintaining their strength far to the north, allowing them to draw very close to Europe. According to a 2014 study led by University of Wisconsin hurricane scientist Jim Kossin, The poleward migration of the location of tropical cyclone maximum intensity, there has already been a "pronounced poleward migration in the average latitude at which tropical cyclones have achieved their lifetime-maximum intensity over the past 30 years. The poleward trends are evident in the global historical data in both the Northern and the Southern hemispheres, with rates of 53 and 62 kilometers per decade, respectively." The scientists hypothesized that this poleward shift could be linked to the expansion of tropics poleward that has long been predicted as a likely consequence of human-caused global warming. They noted that so far, though, the poleward trend observed in the Atlantic tropical cyclone database has been small.
Ophelia Was an "Off the Charts" Storm
One other way we know that Ophelia was an extremely unusual storm is that is broke some of the graphical displays we use to view the forecast. The National Hurricane Center graphical forecasts of the storm's track had to be truncated east of 0° longitude (the Greenwich Prime Meridian), since they never planned for the possibility that an Atlantic hurricane or its identifiable remnants could make it so far to the northeast.
Figure 3. Visible satellite image of 92L as seen at 11 a.m. EDT Oct. 16. A closed center of circulation was attempting to form to the north of the Turks and Caicos Islands. NOAA / RAMMB. GOES-16 imagery is considered preliminary and non-operational.
92L Will Affect Bermuda Monday Night Through Tuesday
A broad area of low pressure was located about 200 miles north of the Turks and Caicos Islands at noon Monday, and was headed north at about 15 mph. This system (92L) has the potential to develop into a tropical depression by Tuesday night as it moves near Bermuda. No other land areas are likely to be impacted by 92L, but long-range model runs predict that the remnants of 92L will be absorbed by a powerful extratropical low-pressure system later this week, which will go on give Ireland another battering on Friday and Saturday, as a 960 mb low-pressure system.
92L was under moderate wind shear of 15 – 20 knots on Monday afternoon, but had ocean temperatures warm enough for development: 28°C (82°F). Relative humidity at mid-levels of the atmosphere as analyzed by the 12Z Monday run of the SHIPS model was favorable for development, about 70 percent. Satellite loops showed that 92L had a modest area of heavy thunderstorms that were slowly becoming more organized, with a surface circulation attempting to form to the west of the heaviest thunderstorms.
Forecast for 92L
The 0Z Monday runs of our top three models for predicting tropical cyclone genesis--the European, UKMET and GFS model--had one of them, the UKMET model, predict weak development of 92L by Tuesday. Approximately 40 percent of the 70 members of the 0Z Monday GFS and European model ensemble forecasts showed development of 92L into a tropical depression. The 12Z Monday run of the SHIPS model predicted that wind shear would rise to 35 knots by Wednesday morning as 92L merged with a cold front, which gives the storm a short window for development. In their 8 am Monday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 92L 2-day and 5-day odds of development of 40 percent. The Bermuda Weather Service is advising that 92L will bring strong winds and heavy rain to Bermuda on Monday night and into Tuesday.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Weather Underground.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Tuna auctions are a tourist spectacle in Tokyo. Outside the city's most famous fish market, long queues of visitors hoping for a glimpse of the action begin to form at 5 a.m. The attraction is so popular that last October the Tsukiji fish market, in operation since 1935, moved out from the city center to the district of Toyosu to cope with the crowds.
gmnicholas / E+ / Getty Images
Kristan Porter grew up in a fishing family in the fishing community of Cutler, Maine, where he says all roads lead to one career path: fishing. (Porter's father was the family's lone exception. He suffered from terrible seasickness, and so became a carpenter.) The 49-year-old, who has been working on boats since he was a kid and fishing on his own since 1991, says that the recent warming of Maine's cool coastal waters has yielded unprecedented lobster landings.
The climate crisis is getting costly. Some of the world's largest companies expect to take over one trillion in losses due to climate change. Insurers are increasingly jittery and the world's largest firm has warned that the cost of premiums may soon be unaffordable for most people. Historic flooding has wiped out farmers in the Midwest.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.
'We Should Be Retreating Already From the Coastline,' Scientist Suggests After Finding Warm Waters Below Greenland
By Johnny Wood
The Ganges is a lifeline for the people of India, spiritually and economically. On its journey from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, it supports fishermen, farmers and an abundance of wildlife.
The river and its tributaries touch the lives of roughly 500 million people. But having flowed for millennia, today it is reaching its capacity for human and industrial waste, while simultaneously being drained for agriculture and municipal use.
Here are some of the challenges the river faces.
By Jake Johnson
As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.