Record-Breaking Hurricane Lorenzo Becomes the Second Category 5 Storm This Year
It has since weakened to a Category 2 storm, but is still expected to be a "large and powerful hurricane" when it passes near the Azores early Wednesday, according to the most recent advisory from the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
Lorenzo is now an extremely powerful category 5 hurricane. It is the strongest hurricane on record this far north and east in the Atlantic basin. pic.twitter.com/nUR5ugJws7— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 29, 2019
The NHC has issued a hurricane watch for the islands of Flores, Corvo, Faial, Pico, São Jorge, Graciosa and Terceira and a tropical storm watch for São Miguel and Santa Maria. The storm is expected to dump two to four inches of rain over the western Azores, which could cause "life-threatening flash flooding," the NHC warned.
It is unusual for hurricanes to reach the Azores, according to The Weather Channel. Since the mid-nineteenth century, only seven hurricanes Category 2 or higher have blown within 200 nautical miles of the islands. Those include Ophelia in 2017, which knocked down a few trees and caused some flooding when it passed south of the Azores, and a 1926 hurricane that passed over São Miguel.
Per NOAA's historical database, only 7 Cat. 2+ #hurricanes have tracked within 200 nautical miles of the #Azores. We'll see if #Lorenzo will maintain at least that intensity next week. pic.twitter.com/oY4vSOJy7S— Jonathan Erdman (@wxjerdman) September 27, 2019
Lorenzo could also join Ophelia in being the rare former hurricane to impact the UK. Its weakened winds could veer northwest and lash Ireland, CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said.
"Ophelia did the same thing and impacted the region in 2017, bringing with it very strong winds," Brink told CNN.
While Lorenzo is unusual for its intensity so far east, The Weather Channel noted that it is also part of a growing trend of hurricanes impacting the eastern Atlantic. Hurricane Leslie almost reached Portugal in 2018, and Hurricane Alex hit the Azores with a freak January strike in 2016.
Lorenzo is also part of an overall trend in stronger storms during the past few years. It was the second Category 5 storm in the Atlantic this year, following Dorian, and the sixth in less than three years. Furthermore, it contributed to making Septembers 2017 to 2019 the three busiest on record in terms of accumulated cyclone energy, which measures the strength and duration of tropical storms, NHC scientist Eric Blake tweeted.
The past 3 Septembers (2017-2019) are now the busiest 3 consecutive September’s on record in terms of accumulated cyclone energy (ACE), thanks in part to #Lorenzo. The previous record was 2003-2005 pic.twitter.com/I53v0Yc68x— Eric Blake 🌀 (@EricBlake12) September 29, 2019
Lorenzo also broke records for the lowest pressure east of 50 degrees west longitude and for the longest time as a major hurricane for any storm east of 45 degrees west longitude, according to The Weather Channel.
NBC meteorologist John Morales listed Lorenzo beside several recent record-breaking storms.
"There's something happening here," he tweeted.
Lorenzo '19 is a record setter— John Morales (@JohnMoralesNBC6) September 27, 2019
Dorian '19 was a record setter
Michael '18 was a record setter
Ophelia '17 was a record setter
Irma '17 was a record setter
Harvey '17 was a record setter
There's something happening here. What it is, is exactly clear. https://t.co/oARe1JhW4C
Lorenzo's intensification over the weekend was due to warmer than average Atlantic Ocean temperatures, The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang explained.
"The water under Lorenzo when it was a Category 5 hurricane is about 28°C (82.4), which is about 1°C (1.8°F) warmer than average ... just enough to give it that extra jolt," Capital Weather Gang's tropical weather expert Brian McNoldy wrote.
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It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
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