Puerto Rico Braces for Tropical Storm Dorian
Puerto Rico, still recovering from 2017's devastating Hurricane Maria, is now facing down Tropical Storm Dorian.
This visible satellite animation from NOAA’s #GOES16 shows #TropicalStormDorian moving closer to the #VirginIslands… https://t.co/J7rWKxxWps— NOAA Satellites - Public Affairs (@NOAA Satellites - Public Affairs)1566997385.0
The storm is expected to reach the island at near hurricane strength Wednesday, CNN reported. In preparation, the governor declared a state of emergency Monday. President Trump also approved a request for a federal emergency declaration, which will enable federal agencies to coordinate relief, The New York Times reported.
"There's already so much damage on the ground from (Maria) that this isn't going to take a lot to make a significant amount of damage, especially flooding," CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said. "Some of these power lines are not held up by very much—70 mph would bring them back down."
Even if the winds don't reach hurricane strength, the storm could dump more than six inches of rain on the island, causing potentially severe flooding, The New York Times reported.
Puerto Rican authorities have worked to assure the island's residents that they are prepared for the storm and have enough emergency supplies. The former governor, Ricardo A. Rosselló, was toppled by protests sparked partly by his inadequate response to Hurricane Maria, which killed nearly 3,000 people and left some parts of the island without power for up to 11 months. Current Gov. Wanda Vázquez only assumed power three weeks ago.
"I am confident that the people of Puerto Rico are prepared," she said at a press conference reported by The New York Times. "We are going to move forward."
The government has around 360 shelters ready with a capacity of 48,500, CNN reported. They have also prepared around 70 hospitals to deal with emergencies. But island residents are still nervous, and some are leaving the island ahead of the storm.
"I'm so insecure here with the power, the food, the security—so I'm leaving," one person told CBS News.
Others stocked up on bottled water, as Krystle Rivera tweeted.
This is crazy! Ridiculous shouldn't there be some type of limite so everyone can get some #PuertoRico #water #crazy https://t.co/aU5f9YLb6q— krystle rivera (@krystle rivera)1566750638.0
The Department of Homeland Security came under fire Tuesday for transferring more than $150 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief fund to temporary immigration courts on the southwest U.S. and Mexican border, The New York Times reported.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the move a "brazen theft" and "stunningly reckless," HuffPost reported
.@realDonaldTrump’s brazen theft of disaster relief funding to pay for an inhumane family incarceration plan is cru… https://t.co/2XXHAF5gNG— Nancy Pelosi (@Nancy Pelosi)1566958694.0
In addition to striking Puerto Rico, Dorian could bring wind and rain to the eastern Dominican Republic and the Virgin Islands, according to The New York Times. It is also expected to make landfall as a category 1 hurricane on the east coast of Florida Saturday, CNN further reported.
"Based on the current track of Tropical Storm Dorian, all residents on the East Coast should prepare for impacts, including strong winds, heavy rain and flooding," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday, as CNN reported.
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What Is Ammonium Nitrate?<p>Ammonium nitrate is a white crystalline salt that can be fairly cheaply produced from ammonia and nitric acid. It is soluble and often used as fertilizer, as nitrogen is needed for healthy plant development.</p><p>Ammonium nitrate in its pure form is not dangerous. It is, however, heat sensitive. At 32.2 degrees Celsius (89.96 degrees Fahrenheit), ammonium nitrate changes its atomic structure, which in turn changes its chemical properties.</p><p>When large quantities of ammonium nitrate are stored in one place, heat is generated. If the amount is sufficiently vast, it can cause the chemical to ignite. Once a temperature of 170 C is reached, ammonium nitrate starts breaking down, emitting nitrous oxide, better known as laughing gas. Any sudden ignition causes ammonium nitrate to decompose directly into water, nitrogen and oxygen, which explains the enormous explosive power of the salt.</p>
Deadly Disasters<p>As ammonium nitrate is a highly explosive chemical, many countries strictly regulate its use. Over the past 100 years, there have been several disasters involving the chemical.</p><p>In 1921, for example, a massive blast occurred at a BASF chemical plant in Ludwigshafen in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. About 400 metric tons of a mixture of ammonium sulfate and ammonium nitrate exploded, killing 559 people and injuring 1,977. The plant was largely destroyed in the blast, which could be heard as far away as Munich, some 300 kilometers (186 miles) distant.</p><p>In 2015, explosions caused by ammonium nitrate ripped through the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/china-convicts-dozens-for-last-years-giant-explosions-in-tianjin/a-36324321" target="_blank">Chinese port city of Tianjin</a>. Eight hundred metric tons of the chemical were said to have been stored along with other substances in a warehouse for hazardous materials. The blasts killed 173 people and destroyed an entire city district.</p><p>Two years earlier, in 2013, an ammonium nitrate explosion occurred at the West Fertilizer Company site in Texas, killing 14 people. And in 2001, 31 people died in Toulouse, France, in an explosion caused by the chemical.</p>
Terrorist Favorite<p>In Germany, the purchase and use of ammonium nitrate is regulated by the explosives act. This is because the cheap, highly explosive and relatively easily obtainable material has in the past been used by terrorists to carry out attacks.</p><p>For example, in 1995, U.S. conspiracy theorist and gun enthusiast Timothy McVeigh used a mixture of ammonium nitrate and other substances to bomb the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Norwegian far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik also used ammonium nitrate in a car bomb attack in Oslo in 2011.</p>
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