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Hurricane Nate Heads Into Gulf and Toward Saturday Night Landfall
By Bob Henson and Dr. Jeff Masters
A hurricane warning was in effect from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to the Alabama/Florida border on Friday evening as Tropical Storm Nate, with sustained winds of 70 mph as of 11 p.m. EDT, sped through the narrow Yucatan Channel between Mexico and Cuba and into the Gulf of Mexico.
Update: Nate was upgraded to hurricane strength by the NOAA/NWS National Hurricane Center at 11:30 p.m. EDT Friday, with top sustained winds of 75 mph based on Hurricane Hunter reported.
Very intense thunderstorms were erupting on Friday night near Nate's center, located about 90 miles northeast of Cozumel as of 8 p.m. EDT Friday. Nate was in the process of closing off an eyewall, and it is likely to be a Category 1 hurricane on Saturday night when it makes landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast between Southeast Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle.
Nate's strongest winds and heaviest rains missed the northeast tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, which was located on the left (weak) side of the storm. As of 9 p.m. EDT Friday, the top winds in Cozumel, Mexico and Cancun, Mexico had not exceeded 20 mph, and only intermittent light rain had been reported. The Hurricane Hunters found Nate's strongest winds were the southeast of the center, over the Yucatan Channel, where Buoy 42056, 120 nm ESE of Cozumel, reported sustained winds of 56 mph, gusting to 69 mph, just after 4 p.m. EDT Friday.
Above: Microwave satellite view of Nate taken at 7:45 p.m. EDT Oct. 6, showing a calm area at Nate's center surrounded by precipitation. The wavelength at which this image was collected, 37 GHz, senses precipitating clouds but does not highlight deep convection (intense showers and thunderstorms). Imagery at the 85 GHz wavelength, which does distinguish deep convection, showed that Nate lacked a complete eyewall at this point. Naval Research Laboratory
Dangerous heavy rains from Nate have affected large parts of Central America. As of Friday evening, Nate had led to a total of 25 deaths in Central America; hardest hit were Nicaragua with 12 deaths, and Costa Rica with nine. Satellite rainfall estimates show that Nate has dumped 8+" of rain on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama, and also along the northern coast of Honduras and the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, in both Mexico and Belize.
Figure 1. Infrared GOES-16 satellite image of Tropical Storm Nate at 9:02 p.m. EDT Oct. 6. The white areas indicate very strong thunderstorms surrounding Nate's center. Image credit: NASA/MSFC Earth Science Branch. GOES-16 data are considered preliminary and non-operational.
Forecast for Nate Through Landfall
Satellite images early Friday evening showed that Nate continued to struggle to consolidate; the storm lacked symmetry and had an odd, clumpy appearance to its heavy thunderstorms. However, by late evening, Nate had finally developed a well-formed central dense overcast (CDO) over its center—the large, thick area of high cirrus clouds that normally appears when a storm becomes well-organized and nears hurricane strength. Microwave imagery showed that Nate appeared to be wrapping an eyewall around its east side.
Conditions will be quite supportive of intensification through Saturday. Wind shear will be light to moderate, around 10 knots, and the surrounding atmosphere will remain quite moist, with mid-level relative humidity in the 70 – 80 percent range. Sea-surface temperatures along Nate's path will remain near or above 29°C (84°F)—about 1°C above average for early October—until a few hours before landfall. The eastern part of Nate's circulation will be passing over a warm eddy associated with the Loop Current, which will help keep Nate from churning up cooler water. Nate's rapid forward speed will have a similar effect.
Figure 2. Ocean Heat Content (OHC) for Oct. 6. Forecast positions for Nate from the 8 a.m. EDT Friday NHC forecast are also shown. OHC values in excess of 80 kilojoules per square centimeter (yellow-green colors) are often associated with rapid intensification of hurricanes. On Saturday, the eastern part of Nate's circulation will be passing over the northern portion of the Loop Current, where a warm eddy appears to be attempting to break off. University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
NHC defines rapid intensification as an increase in sustained winds of at least 30 knots (35 mph) in 24 hours. Given the factors above, this seems possible, though it's far from guaranteed. Nate remains an asymmetric storm, embedded in a complex larger circulation, so it is unlikely to crank up as dramatically as some other rapid intensifiers we've seen this year. The 0Z Saturday run of the SHIPS statistical model gave Nate a 31 percent chance of gaining at least 30 knots of intensity in 24 hours, and a 47 percent chance of gaining at least 25 knots. However, Nate's less-than-ideal structure is not reflected in the SHIPS output. Our top dynamical models, including those tuned for intensity prediction such as the HWRF and HMON, were surprisingly low-key on the odds of Nate strengthening. The 18Z Friday runs of the GFS, HWRF, and HMON dynamical models all bring Nate to the U.S. Gulf Coast as a tropical storm. Nate's upgrade to hurricane strength late Friday night makes these model projections quite suspect, though.
Taking all these mixed signals into account, the prudent approach is to get ready for Nate to arrive on the Gulf Coast as a higher-end Category 1 storm—with a chance of pushing into the Cat 2 range—and keep our fingers crossed that Nate will fail to maximize its potential, as the dynamical models insist.
Impacts From Nate
The track forecast for Nate is quite straightforward. As Nate enters a region of strong upper-level steering, it will continue briskly toward the north-northwest on Saturday and will be approaching the U.S. Gulf Coast on Saturday night, most likely somewhere between New Orleans and Pensacola. Nate is projected to angle toward the north-northeast around this time, and the exact location of this turn will be crucial to the landfall location. If the turn is delayed, landfall could be in far southeast Louisiana, whereas a faster turn will bring the center closer to the coast of Alabama or the far western Florida Panhandle.
Winds: Peak winds in Nate will hinge on how quickly the storm intensifies on Saturday. The hurricane-force wind field at landfall is not expected to be broad—perhaps just 20 or 30 miles wide. Tropical-storm-strength winds could affect a much broader region, up to 200 miles wide, as Nate pushes inland. As we saw with Hurricane Irma in Florida, sustained winds below hurricane strength can still be enough to bring down trees and power lines in wet soil and produce widespread power outages.
Since Nate will make landfall as a fairly fast-moving system (around 15 – 20 mph), there will be a stronger-than-usual asymmetry to its wind field, with the bulk of the strong winds to the right (east) of Nate's center. NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory explained: "In general, the strongest winds in a hurricane are found on the right side of the storm because the motion of the hurricane also contributes to its swirling winds. A hurricane with a 90 mph [145 km/hr] winds while stationary would have winds up to 100 mph [160 km/hr] on the right side and only 80 mph [130 km/hr] on the left side if it began moving (any direction) at 10 mph [16 km/hr]. Note that forecasting center advisories already take this asymmetry into account and, in this case, would state that the highest winds were 100 mph [160 km/hr]."
Figure 3. Diagram showing the additive and subtractive effect of storm motion on peak winds at either side of a tropical cyclone's center. Chris Landsea (NOAA / NHC), courtesy NOAA / AOML
Surge: A storm surge warning is up for the Gulf Coast from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Okaloosa/Walton county line in Florida, as well as along the northern and western shores of Lake Pontchartrain. The highest surge from Nate will arrive quickly on Saturday night, and will likely peak before dawn Sunday, so residents need to take the surge threat seriously and make final preparations as soon as possible on Saturday. As of 8 p.m. EDT Friday, the following inundations above ground level are possible with Nate, assuming the storm were to arrive during high tide:
- Morgan City, Louisiana to the mouth of the Mississippi River ... 4 to 6 ft
- Mouth of the Mississippi River to the Alabama/Florida border ... 5 to 8 ft
- Alabama/Florida border to the Okaloosa/Walton County Line ... 4 to 6 ft
- Okaloosa/Walton County Line to Indian Pass, Florida ... 2 to 4 ft
- Indian Pass to Crystal River, Florida ... 1 to 3 ft
Because the daily high tide across this region occurs during the pre-dawn hours, it is quite possible that Nate will reach the coast near high tide. Tidal range between low and high tide is 1 - 1.3' along the central Gulf Coast, so the timing of Nate's storm surge with respect to the high tide can cause an additional foot or so of flooding. High tide in Mobile, Alabama is at 1:46 a.m. local time Sunday, and it will be one of the highest high tides of the year, due to the full moon. Low tide is at 10:12 a.m. Saturday. At Shell Beach, Louisiana, on the east side of New Orleans, high tide is at 4:29 a.m. local time Sunday, and low tide is at 12:14 p.m. Saturday.
Rains: Nate's rapid motion will limit the total amount of rainfall at any one spot, and the overall accumulations should be less than those observed during slower-moving tropical cyclones. However, Nate is embedded in a very moist atmosphere, and torrential rain could still fall in short periods. Nate's quick-hitting rains could exacerbate the strain on the troubled levee system in and around New Orleans, especially if Nate tracks toward the western end of its forecast range. Localized rainfall totals of 6 - 10" are expected close to Nate's landfall location, and intense rainbands will stream onshore well east of Nate's center across the Florida Panhandle. A large area of 4 - 12" rains, perhaps including Atlanta and Nashville, may develop as Nate accelerates into the southern Appalachians on Sunday. Rains of 2 - 6" will stream across the northern Appalachians and into southern New England on Monday, as Nate races northeast as a fast-weakening tropical cyclone.
This animation of NOAA's GOES East satellite imagery of Tropical Storm Nate from Oct. 5 at 5:45 a.m. EDT (0945 UTC) to Oct. 7 ending at 6:00 a.m. EDT (1000 UTC) ends after Nate strengthened into a hurricane while moving through the Gulf of Mexico. TRT: 00:27. NASA / NOAA GOES Project
Reposted with permission from our media associate Weather Underground.
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By Joni Sweet
Should you skip your annual checkup? The answer would have been a resounding "no" if you asked most doctors before the pandemic.
But with the risk of COVID-19, the answer isn't so clear anymore.
Are States Allowing Preventive Care Visits?<p>First things first: If you're experiencing a medical emergency, don't delay treatment.</p><p>While there's the potential that you could be <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/hai/data/portal/index.html" target="_blank">exposed to infections at the emergency room</a>, the health risks of avoiding urgent medical care could be far more severe.</p><p>Hospitals have also implemented precautionary measures, like distributing masks to patients, that help cut down the risk of viral exposure.</p><p>Now that that's out of the way, is it possible to start catching up on routine healthcare appointments, like physicals and dental cleanings?</p><p>"Different places are in different stages of opening up," said <a href="https://www.methodisthealth.org/doctors/arvind-ankireddypalli/" target="_blank">Dr. Arvind Ankireddypalli</a>, primary care physician and geriatrician at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare. "Preventative services might not even be available in some communities, [and in others] medical appointments may be on a case-by-case basis."</p>
Is it Safe to Go to the Doctor?<p>If your state is open (or will end its lockdown soon), you may be able to start booking preventive care appointments, like Pap smears, cancer screenings, checkups, and dental cleanings.</p><p>But is it worth the risk of possible exposure to the new coronavirus?</p><p>Opinions vary among healthcare providers and the conditions of their patients, as well as the infection rate in their communities and availability of personal protective equipment.</p><p><a href="https://www.lenhorovitz.com/" target="_blank">Dr. Len Horovitz</a>, internist, pulmonary specialist, and director of Carnegie Medical, recommends that patients avoid delaying their annual physical or other types of preventive care.</p><p>"You will encounter problems that are best seen earlier rather than later," he said. "It is possible to provide a safe environment for a patient in the doctor's office. There's no reason for people to put off an annual exam; these are important appointments that help keep problems from getting out of control."</p><p>In an effort to curb the spread of infection, Horovitz has been following a strict set of procedures at his office, including allowing just one patient in at a time, requiring patients to wear masks and gloves, and disinfecting the examination room between every patient.</p><p>Other physicians, like Ankireddypalli, conduct a risk-benefit analysis for every patient before agreeing to see them in person.</p><p>"It is probably not appropriate to keep delaying visits for high-risk patients, like older adults or people with chronic conditions," he explained.</p>
Role of Telehealth Visits<p>Telemedicine visits, where doctors connect with patients via phone or video chat, can be an option if in-person appointments are risky or prohibited.</p><p>The <a href="https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/benefits/downloads/medicaid-chip-telehealth-toolkit.pdf" target="_blank">Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services</a> and some private insurance companies have expanded coverage for telehealth services during the pandemic. As a result, some practices have seen the <a href="https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/during-pandemic-telehealth-visits-soar-10-week-300-group-practice" target="_blank">use of telemedicine services soar</a> over the last few months.</p><p>"Telemedicine is a way that patients can be seen, evaluated, counseled, and informed about their healthcare without being exposed to the dangers of going into lobbies and offices," said <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/biographies/ommen-steve-r-m-d/bio-20053861" target="_blank">Dr. Steve Ommen</a>, cardiologist and associate dean of the Mayo Clinic Center for Connected Care, which offers telemedicine services.</p><p>"It is particularly relevant for patients who already have a relationship with a provider, the appointment is for an ongoing care episode, and the patient doesn't need to be touched," he said.</p><p>A virtual doctor's visit can't be a substitute for all routine care, though. Cancer screenings, blood draws, evaluations of lumps, Pap smears, and other services still need to be done in person.</p><p>But even if you do have to go to the doctor's office, telehealth services can help cut down on the amount of time you spend there, thus potentially reducing your exposure to the new coronavirus and other germs.</p>
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By Jeannette Cwienk
When it comes to recycling and recyclability, very little, it seems is straightforward — even something as seemingly simple as orange juice can present a conundrum. In Germany, many smaller shops sell drinks in cartons or plastic bottles, both of which will end up in the yellow recycling bin. But how do their recycling credentials stack up?
More and More Multilayer Packaging<p>How easy is it to recognize multilayer packaging? With drink cartons, it's usually obvious that they're made from a combination of different materials, but with other products, such as candy wrappers, it's a different story.</p><p>Such packaging can be made from a complex mix of up to 10 different films of plastic, which as Joachim Christiani, managing director of German recycling institute cyclos-HTP, explains, is <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/germany-produces-record-amount-of-packaging-waste/a-51293541" target="_blank">invisible to consumers</a>.</p><p>"In recent years there's been a trend toward so-called multilayer packaging, which is extremely light and thin. It saves material as well as CO2 emissions during transport, but can't be recycled," Christiani says.</p><p>Because it is not possible to melt the different plastics together, or — at least for now — to separate the individual films from one another at recycling plants.</p>
Lack of Recycled Plastic<p>A 2017 cyclos-HTP study into the recyclability of conventional packaging waste concluded that a third of it was not recyclable, and only 40% of the remaining two-thirds was made into plastic recyclate. The rest was used as fuel <em>—</em> in other words it was incinerated.</p><p>"There was no economic or political pressure to recycle more than this amount," Christiani says. "The prescribed recycling quotas were met, and there were not nearly enough recycling plants."</p>
Room for Greenwashing<p>According to a 2018 survey by Germany's vzbv consumer protection association, most consumers would like to see more plastic recycling, especially when it comes to packaging.</p><p>Although some products come in packaging that is advertised as being "made from recycled material," Elke Salzmann, a resource protection officer with vzbv, says that can be misleading.</p><p>"It says nothing about how much recycled material the packaging actually contains," according to Salzmann. "And it also doesn't mean that the recycled plastic comes from collected plastic waste. It could just as well come from plastic leftovers created during the production of primary plastic."</p><p>The term "ocean plastic," which some textile and shoe manufacturers use to advertise the recycled plastic in their product lines, can also be misleading, Salzmann says.</p><p><span></span>"Plastic waste from the ocean is in much too bad a state to be recycled. Instead, they use plastic waste from beaches or riverbanks."</p>
Laws Against Plastic<p>Images of garbage choking our waters and <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/eurythenes-plasticus-a-deep-sea-crustacean-full-of-plastic/a-52663559" target="_blank">killing marine wildlife</a> have played a key role in giving plastic a negative reputation among the public, and politicians have started to act.</p><p>Many countries worldwide have introduced bans on single-use items, and in Germany, a 2019 packaging law stipulates a plastics recycling quota of 90% from 2022, up from 36%. That said, the quota only refers to how much material has to be fed into the recycling system, not how much ultimately needs to be recycled.</p>
Rethinking the Whole System<p>Although plastic is a very useful material, at the end of its life it causes many problems, EASAC environmental program director Michael Norton tells DW, adding that we have to rethink the whole system and completely change the way we use plastic.</p><p>Joachim Christiani says the packaging industry is starting to catch on. Around 70% of recycled mass can currently be generated from packaging, but that figure is expected to rise in the future.</p><p>"95% is quite feasible," says the engineer, adding that sorting facilities are currently undergoing improvements, while packaging design is also changing.</p>
Clear Plastics Are Easiest to Recycle<p>As things stand, PET bottles are easiest to recycle because they're not mixed with other materials. New bottles can therefore easily be made from the old ones and the recycling rate is high. But the color of the bottle can pose a problem.</p><p>Because plastic is sorted by type rather than color, if different colors of plastic are mixed, the resulting recyclate cannot be used for light-colored packaging, which many manufacturers want. The upshot is the introduction of new plastic instead.</p><p>Consumer and environmental associations have long called for recyclability, greater sorting purity and better sorting facilities, but their most important demand remains waste avoidance through reusable systems.</p><p>"Why melt down disposable bottles to make new disposable bottles when you can refill them up to 20 times?" Buschmann asks.</p>
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When the coronavirus pandemic hit, the future of the Cannard Family Farm—whose organic vegetables supplied a single Berkeley restaurant—was looking stark.
Building Food Communities<p>Family farms in California and across the country have been hit hard by the impact of the coronavirus on their markets. But in the health-conscious Bay Area, where celery was already one of the first groceries to disappear from the produce rack, demand for fresh local produce has shot up. The challenge is in redirecting food from farms to new customers.</p><p>Sonoma County has historically been an agricultural region. When the organic food movement sprang up in the 1970s, this area was one of its early proponents. The first farmers markets and CSAs appeared in the 1980s and flourished, but the burgeoning network was later eclipsed by an inflated wine industry, much of it owned by distant corporations.</p><p>According to a 2018 crop report, 60,000 acres have gone to grapes, with only 500 acres in food crops. Land prices have skyrocketed, the cost of labor has gone up, and increased regulations have all made it harder to run a viable business here. Many farmers had turned to "boutique" specialty crops for restaurants.</p><p>"Farmers are always in an uphill battle, especially ecological farmers," says Wiig of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers. "I often hear them say, 'I'm working my butt off and hoping for the best.'" That's even more true now, as the pandemic strangles economies the world over.</p>
Scaling Up Support<p>F.E.E.D. Sonoma, a food hub that aggregates produce from dozens of local farms, was another quick responder. When the pandemic hit, it went from serving Bay Area restaurants to building a cooperative of farmers, filling food boxes for distribution at F.E.E.D.'s Petaluma warehouse and other drop spots in the county.</p><p>"Our local food system is extremely diverse," says co-founder Tim Page, who has the energy of a visionary combined with the skills of a businessman. "We have a ton of small farms but we don't have the infrastructure to support them. That is what F.E.E.D. is trying to establish." Since converting the restaurant supply business to a CSA, it has gone from 90 boxes to 450. Ultimately, the goal is 1,800 or more.</p><p>"I grew up in L.A.," Page says. "Every single farm is gone. The same thing will happen here if the general public does not understand the importance of it.</p><p>"That understanding was on display at the Sonoma Farmers Market, which now operates with strict restrictions and safety precautions because of the virus. "We think F.E.E.D. is going to save us," said Candy Wirtz, co-director of Paul's Produce, a well-established farm in Sonoma, as she weighed out my purchases. The CSA model could be transformative for Paul's and other farms across the country.</p><p>Subscribing to a CSA is a lifestyle change for consumers, to be sure. It means eating what's in season and learning to cook unfamiliar vegetables. But it's a change that many people are making now because of the stay-at-home orders. "People just have to learn to cook again instead of eating out," says Judith Redmond, part-owner of Full Belly Farm near Sacramento.</p><p>In light of this newfound commitment to CSAs, Perrotti, of Coyote Family Farm, says: "My hope is that this solidifies instead of going back to the way things were. I hope the importance of local farming stays at the forefront."</p>
Farms With Futures<p>To help small farmers stay in business during the crisis, Community Alliance is also advocating for stimulus dollars. "Most often subsidies go to a small number of the largest farms, or to buy food that goes to food banks from far away, while local farmers can't sell their food," Wiig says. "We want food banks to buy from local farms."</p><p>This seems like a win-win. Millions of tons of food is being plowed under as 60 million people are now going hungry, 17 million of them since the pandemic began, according to Feeding America, the national network of food banks.</p><p>But it's complicated. David Goodman of the Redwood Empire Food Bank puts it plainly: Local food is too expensive. "We distribute nine and a half million pounds of produce annually," he says. "It costs about 9 cents a pound, 3 cents to transport. With 82,000 people to feed, it would be a luxury to think of tending to local needs by buying locally."</p><p>That reticence is partly because the food bank system is tangled in bureaucracy. The USDA decides what to purchase and from where. Because of the distances between sites, the federal agency has tended to favor foods with long shelf lives, such as canned and processed foods, and long-lasting produce like apples and potatoes. "If local food is what we need, there has to be a plan," Goodman says.</p><p>Such a plan might be where short-term disaster relief meets long-term resilience. Michael Dimock is president of Roots of Change, a nonprofit organization that advocates for transforming California's food system. To get serious about preparing the food system for future disasters, Dimock says, the government needs to be involved. Roots of Change is now advocating for a tax on sugary beverages to help foot the bill.</p><p>Dimock says the state needs a paradigm shift for farms to remain viable in the face of multiplying disasters to come—not only pandemics, but fires, floods, and other symptoms of climate change. "How bold will people get in the months ahead to demand real change? My hope is they will get more radical."</p><p>Food is fundamental. While farmers have yet to face the full economic impact of this pandemic, their collaborative efforts, along with local grassroots networks, could mark the beginning of a new economy laboring to be born.</p>
By Andrea Germanos
Nearly 200 Canadian organizations on Monday rolled out their demands for a "just recovery," saying that continuing business-as-usual after the pandemic would prevent the kind of far-reaching transformation needed to put "the health and well-being of ALL peoples and ecosystems first."
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Alberta Energy Minister Calls Pandemic ‘a Great Time’ to Build Pipelines Due to Protest Restrictions
Anti-pipeline protests work.
That's the implication behind comments made by Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage Friday on how coronavirus social distancing requirements could ease the construction of Canada's controversial Trans Mountain Expansion project.