Isaias Lashes East Coast With Deadly Winds and Rain
The earliest "I" storm of an Atlantic hurricane season on record began its path of destruction late Monday night when it made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. It brought both flames and floods, causing at least five structures to catch fire, The New York Times reported.
"We didn't think it was going to get to this level," Morgan Strenk, who offered a family shelter from the flames in her vacation home even as its basement filled with three feet of water, told The New York Times.
At approximately 11:40 p.m., there were reports of multiple structure fires in the area of Ocean Isle Beach, North… https://t.co/2gaphSIzf4— Horry SC Fire Rescue (@Horry SC Fire Rescue)1596516004.0
The hurricane also brought storm surge flooding to Oak Island, North Carolina and rose the Cape Fear River in Wilmington, North Carolina to a record high level, The Weather Channel reported.
Isaias weakened to a tropical storm over Eastern North Carolina early Tuesday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). But it was still a deadly force as it moved up the East Coast.
One of the major hazards was falling trees, which killed at least three people in New York, Delaware and Maryland, according to CNN. Trees fell from Virginia to New England, and more than three million homes and businesses lost power, The Weather Channel reported.
Haven’t seen tree damage this extensive since Sandy in Woodbridge, NJ. You can actually smell the trees. No power.… https://t.co/U0zTqaSYtL— Collin Gross (@Collin Gross)1596571528.0
Another major hazard was tornadoes. The National Weather Service received more than 20 reports of twisters between North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
In one tragic incident, 12 people were injured and at least two people were killed when a tornado hit a mobile home park in Windsor, North Carolina, CNN reported.
"We didn't have a lot of time to react once it finally hit. I mean, it hit all at once," resident Desaree Pike told CNN affiliate WRAL. "For lack of a better word, it was hell. You don't really think about anything else but just holding the kids and hoping it doesn't tear the house up."
One of the reasons Isaias was so dangerous, and spawned so many tornadoes without warning, was the speed at which it moved. As of Tuesday evening, it was still moving 40 miles per hour and still had maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour.
In addition to wind, the storm also brought widespread flooding.
As of 6PM Tuesday, we are forecasting flooding at 14 locations across the Mid-Atlantic region. Please follow the la… https://t.co/FcEKPBbIH2— NWS MARFC (@NWS MARFC)1596578706.0
Pennsylvania was especially inundated. One person died in the state when floodwaters swept away their vehicle, CBS News reported. Little Lehigh Creek and Perkiomen Creek in Pennsylvania both crested at record levels and Darby Creek flooded a neighborhood in southwest Philadelphia, according to The Weather Channel.
**Breaking - Darby Creek floods its banks into Southwest Philadelphia neighborhood near 84th St and Lindberg Blvd.… https://t.co/N1ZpaWnaGB— Dan Patrick (@Dan Patrick)1596573257.0
A man and woman also had to be rescued in In Charles County, Maryland after flood waters swept their cars off the road, CBS News reported.
However, the storm's speed provided one advantage: It did not linger, which reduced river flooding and allowed emergency workers to respond rapidly, The New York Times reported.
"All in all, this storm got in, got out pretty quickly," North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper told "Good Morning America" on Tuesday, as The New York Times reported.
He said this meant the damage was "not as great as it could have been."
The storm has now moved into Canada as a post-tropical cyclone, according to a 5 a.m. EDT update from the NHC. It is currently about 55 miles northwest of Quebec City and is expected to dissipate over southeastern Canada Thursday.
But as the storm fades, it leaves a sobering reminder of what a future shaped by the climate crisis could look like, The New York Times pointed out. Isaias struck the same week that the Apple Fire forced thousands to evacuate in Southern California, and both disasters came as the nation still struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic, giving a foretaste of the overlapping crises we can expect if the climate continues to destabilize.
"State and local governments already stretched with Covid responses must now stretch even further," adaptation program director at the Georgetown Climate Center in Washington Lisa Anne Hamilton told The New York Times. She said better planning was needed to prepare for the disasters to come.
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Hundreds of endangered sea turtles were stranded on beaches after suffering "cold stunning" in the waters off Cape Cod, Mass. Local rescuers and wildlife rehabilitators stabilized the turtles at the New England Aquarium (NEAQ) and National Marine Life Center and began treatment. Many of the sea turtles were transported by land or air to partner facilities around the Eastern Seaboard for longer-term care to make room for more incoming, cold-stunned animals.
Rehabilitators at The Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys assess critically endangered, cold-stunned Kemp's ridley sea turtles flown in after rescue in New England. The Turtle Hospital<p>NEAQ and local rescuers begin seeing turtles every fall when water temperatures drop to that 50 degrees F threshold, and typically expect to find them into early January. After that, <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/sea-turtle-cape-cod-weather-2621527394.html" target="_self">temperatures are so cold that any animals found are usually no longer alive</a>.</p><p>Merigo estimated that this year's cold season "looks very busy" and noted that local rescue efforts had already surpassed 400 turtles.</p><p>"It is a lot of animals. They're still coming in," she told EcoWatch as she surveyed 39 rescued turtles that day and 20 the day prior. "So far, this is a huge year."</p><p>At NEAQ, the turtles are gradually warmed up about five to 10 degrees F a day. More aggressive warming can cause serious damage and the turtle might not survive, Merigo said. Emergency treatments also include providing replacement fluids, balancing electrolytes and addressing pneumonia. Assessments take place for other serious problems too, such as shell or limb fractures, frostbite, emaciation and eye damage.<span></span></p><p>As local aquariums don't have the capacity to care for all the injured turtles, a group of private pilots called <a href="https://www.turtlesflytoo.org/" target="_blank">"Turtles Fly Too"</a> donated planes, fuel and time to transport some to various partner facilities around the country. Other turtles were driven to closer care facilities.</p><p>"We have a huge network of really great partners working with us, so if we can spread out the care, we can give better care to all the animals," Merigo said.</p><p>The 40 Kemp's ridley sea turtles recovering in The Turtle Hospital will continue to be treated and rehabilitated anywhere from 30 days to a year, depending on the severity of injuries, Zirkelbach said.</p><p>The turtle expert noted that while she's treated cold-stunned turtles from the north before, the newest arrivals were the most cold-stunned Kemp's ridleys ever received at one time.</p>
After rescue, cold-stunned sea turtles received immediate emergency care and assessments at the New England Aquarium. Caitlin Cunningham / New England Aquarium<p>In the past decade, the Gulf of Maine, which spans from Cape Cod to Nova Scotia, has warmed 99 percent faster than the rest of the ocean, Zirkelbach said. The warm water encourages turtles that migrate north along the Gulf Stream in warmer months to stay in the bay longer.</p><p>"Turtles that fail to migrate south get stuck in the unique horseshoe-shaped topography of the Cape Cod peninsula, and when temperatures drop, the bay becomes a death trap," she added.</p><p>Before ocean temperatures warmed, the waters of Maine were too cold for many of these sea turtles, Merigo echoed. Now, with warming sea surface temperatures, Maine can reach the high 70s to low 80s, which is "perfect turtle temperature," she said. The potential for more turtles getting trapped in the bay and then cold-stunned is nerve-racking for Merigo.</p><p>In addition to shifting habitats as waters warm, warming global temperatures also disrupt natural gender balance in sea turtles, Merigo warned. Gender is determined by the temperature of eggs in nests, and as the planet warms, it will result in all females at some point, she said.</p><p>"The turtles we work with are all endangered and threatened," Merigo said. "For sea turtles in general, the future is a little grim. Climate change is real; it does impact them."</p>
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