The National Hurricane Center has run out of names for tropical storms this year and has now moved on to the Greek alphabet during an extremely active hurricane season. Late Monday night, Tropical Storm Beta became the ninth named storm to make landfall. That's the first time so many named storms have made landfall since 1916, when Woodrow Wilson was president, according to NBC News.
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By Kenny Stancil
Potentially millions of people in the U.S. will be displaced as the climate crisis makes certain regions increasingly uninhabitable, prompting new migrations that will reshape the country, a new report shows.
<div id="6c919" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="314566e38237ee026cda8cd215eaf35d"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1305795794478534656" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">New: Wildfires rage in the West. Hurricanes batter the East. Droughts and floods wreak damage throughout the nation… https://t.co/O5Oftmfe2p</div> — ProPublica (@ProPublica)<a href="https://twitter.com/propublica/statuses/1305795794478534656">1600160952.0</a></blockquote></div>
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The Florida panhandle, the Alabama coast and Mississippi are seeing Hurricane Sally batter its shores Wednesday morning as the slow-moving hurricane starts to make landfall. The storm intensified overnight as it churned slowly over the Gulf of Mexico. It's expected to be a Category 2 storm when it fully makes landfall Wednesday during the mid-morning hours from 8 a.m. to noon, according to AccuWeather.
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By Shelia Hu
The cycle is all too familiar: Affluent residents move into lower-income neighborhoods in cities and make their mark on the area's character and culture. Property values and the cost of living rise in tandem. While the process of gentrification may revitalize under-resourced neighborhoods, the skyrocketing costs of living displace longtime residents and businesses, leaving a new demographic to enjoy the benefits.
The Lure of Higher Ground<p>Increasingly, high-income households are moving away from coastal properties to avoid threats like sea-level rise and erosion. The lurking impacts of the climate crisis "are pushing people inland onto communities that have been rooted there and have endured disinvestment, racism, and inequality and are now under the threat of gentrification and displacement," Forbes explains. Meanwhile, even owners of more-resilient coastal properties are eyeing properties farther from the shore due to expenses associated with climate change, such as the <a href="https://publicintegrity.org/environment/flood-insurance-climate-change-risk-inequality/" target="_blank">rising cost of flood insurance</a>.</p><p>Residents of Liberty City in Miami are among those now <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/has-climate-gentrification-hit-miami-city-plans-find-out" target="_blank">facing the ramifications</a> of climate gentrification. Sitting at a higher elevation than the rest of Miami, Liberty City is less vulnerable to the expected sea-level rise of <a href="https://southeastfloridaclimatecompact.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/2015-Compact-Unified-Sea-Level-Rise-Projection.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">14 to 26 inches by 2060</a>—and this has caught the attention of real estate developers.</p><p>A <a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aabb32" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2018 study</a> shows that real estate sitting on higher elevation in Miami has appreciated at a faster rate than anywhere else in the country. This value appreciation has not been leveraged to collectively benefit the predominantly Black residents of Liberty City who have been fighting for more resources for their community. Not only are they seeing a shift in their neighborhood, but these residents are also under pressure from developers to sell their homes.</p>
Evacuation from Extreme Weather<p>Natural disasters can also accelerate gentrification. "A large part of the reality is that Black- and brown-owned property is undervalued by the market, so in times of disasters—and we can include COVID-19 in this as well—predatory investors and developers take advantage of even cheaper property and land values than existed prior to a disaster," Forbes says.</p><p>Recent studies have shown that Black communities are undervalued <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/research/devaluation-of-assets-in-black-neighborhoods/" target="_blank">by an average of $48,000</a>. The recovery and redevelopment period presents "a mix of residents trying to maintain or recoup what might be left of their homes; residents who have lost their jobs and are on the verge of being evicted with no option for affordable housing elsewhere; land grabs; and cities engaging in redevelopment processes that might tout equity but still create intentional strategies to attract more higher-income residents without enough emphasis on supporting existing low-income residents—all of which can lead to gentrification and displacement," says Forbes.</p><p>Climate-related disasters in 2018 alone displaced more than <a href="https://www.internal-displacement.org/expert-opinion/displacement-and-housing-affordability-in-the-united-states" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1.2 million people</a>. These extreme weather events—which will only <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/global-warming-101#weather" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">increase in frequency</a> as climate change worsens—can spur immediate gentrification in under-resourced communities. In 2017, when Hurricane Harvey swept through Houston, one in six families receiving assistance from the Houston Housing Authority saw their home battered or destroyed. After the city's many displaced families returned to seek new accommodations, <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/climate-change-worsening-houstons-housing-crisis" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">they found skyrocketing rents across the city</a>. And one year later, Houston still wouldn't commit to rebuilding or replacing all of the lost subsidized housing.</p><p>The rebuilding of New Orleans, which bore the brunt of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, remains perhaps the starkest example of climate gentrification of a city in U.S. history. It is estimated that <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-katrina-anniversary/ten-years-on-hurricane-katrinas-scars-endure-for-black-new-orleans-idUSKCN0QB2AS20150806" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">100,000 Black New Orleans residents</a> have been permanently displaced from their homes due to the destruction of affordable housing following the storm. This included the razing of some developments that saw no significant damage as part of the city's rebuilding strategy.</p><p>Researchers have since concluded that hurricane damage was <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-12/new-orleans-gentrification-tied-to-hurricane-katrina" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">positively associated</a> with the likelihood of a New Orleans neighborhood having gentrified 10 years after Katrina. This suggests that natural disasters can sometimes pave the way for gentrification, uprooting existing populations en masse and wiping out infrastructure. Developers can swoop in afterward and invest in properties at lower prices and build higher-end projects meant to attract a wealthier population.</p>
Green—but Inequitable—Investments<p>Forbes also points to cities' efforts to implement eco-friendly infrastructure as a potential trigger for displacement. <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/ramya-sivasubramanian/tackle-green-gentrification-parks-and-affordable-housing" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Green gentrification</a>, such as the building of large-scale green spaces in neighborhoods, can inadvertently push out residents from the surrounding areas as it increases property values.</p>
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By Anthony C. Didlake Jr.
Of all the hazards that hurricanes bring, storm surge is the greatest threat to life and property along the coast. It can sweep homes off their foundations, flood riverside communities miles inland, and break up dunes and levees that normally protect coastal areas against storms.
But what exactly is storm surge?
What Storm Surge Looks Like From Shore<p>As a hurricane reaches the coast, it pushes a huge volume of ocean water ashore. This is what we call storm surge.</p><p>This surge appears as a gradual rise in the water level as the storm approaches. Depending on the size and track of the hurricane, storm surge flooding can last for several hours. It then recedes after the storm passes.</p><p>Water level heights during a hurricane can reach 20 feet or more above normal sea level. With powerful waves on top of it, a hurricane's storm surge can cause catastrophic damage.</p>
What Determines How High a Storm Surge Gets?<p>Storm surge begins over the open ocean. The strong winds of a hurricane push the ocean waters around and cause water to pile up under the storm. The low air pressure of the storm also plays a small role in lifting the water level. The height and extent of this pile of water depend on the strength and size of the hurricane.</p><p>As this pile of water moves toward the coast, other factors can change its height and extent.</p>
Other Factors That Shape Storm Surge<p>Ocean tides – caused by the gravity of the moon and sun – can also strengthen or weaken the impact of a storm surge. So, it's important to know the timing of the local tides compared to the hurricane landfall.</p><p>At high tide, the water is already at an elevated height. If landfall happens at high tide, the storm surge will cause even higher water levels and bring more water further inland. The Carolinas saw those effects when Hurricane Isaias hit at close to high tide on Aug. 3. Isaias brought a storm surge of about <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/08/03/isaias-path-carolinas-northeast/" target="_blank">4 feet at Myrtle Beach</a>, South Carolina, but the water level was <a href="https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/waterlevels.html?id=8661070&units=standard&bdate=20200802&edate=20200804&timezone=GMT&datum=MLLW&interval=6&action=" target="_blank">more than 10 feet</a> above normal.</p>
How a storm surge and high tide add up to coastal flooding. The COMET Program/UCAR and National Weather Service<p><a href="https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2680/new-study-finds-sea-level-rise-accelerating/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sea level rise</a> is another growing concern that influences storm surge.</p><p>As water warms, <a href="https://sealevel.nasa.gov/understanding-sea-level/global-sea-level/thermal-expansion" target="_blank">it expands</a>, and that has slowly raised sea level over the past century as <a href="https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/world-of-change/global-temperatures" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">global temperatures have risen</a>. Freshwater from melting of ice sheets and glaciers also adds to sea level rise. Together, they <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/12/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">elevate the background ocean height</a>. When a hurricane arrives, the higher ocean means storm surge can bring water further inland, to a more dangerous and widespread effect.</p>
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By Jeff Berardelli
This story was originally published on CBS News on September 9, 2020. All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication.
Right on the heels of arguably the West Coast's most intense heat wave in modern history comes the most ferocious flare-up of catastrophic wildfires in recent memory. Meanwhile, just a few hundred miles east, a 60-degree temperature drop over just 18 hours in Wyoming and Colorado was accompanied by an extremely rare late-summer dumping of up to 2 feet of snow.
It's not coincidence, it's climate change.
Increase in California areas burned by wildfires, 1975 to 2015. WILLIAMS, ABATZOGLOU ET AL., EARTH'S FUTURE<p>Abatzoglou makes clear that there are many factors — not just climate change — that contribute to the escalation of fire activity. These include the increased settlement of people in fire-prone lands and a legacy of fire suppression in many lower-elevation forests, which led to years of heavy growth of trees and brush.</p><p>"We can focus on the bad fortune of the <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/lightning-siege-hits-california-with-nearly-12000-strikes-in-a-week-2020-08-22/" target="_blank">lightning siege</a> around the San Francisco Bay Area, or the multitude of <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/gender-reveal-fire-party-california-wildfire/" target="_blank">stupid human tricks</a> that materialized in large wildfires, but the confluence of long-term and short-term environmental factors set the table for the 2020 fire season," he said. </p><p>In other words, though climate change does not cause the heat waves or fires, it sets the stage so that when conditions are ripe, like the summer and fall of 2020, heat waves are more intense and fires burn more fiercely. </p>
CLIMATE CENTRAL<p>This summer has been extremely hot and dry in the West. According to NOAA, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah each had their <a href="https://www.noaa.gov/news/summer-2020-ranked-as-one-of-hottest-on-record-for-us" target="_blank">warmest August</a> on record. Research has found that heat waves are now larger, getting more intense and lasting longer than decades ago. Specifically in California, extreme heat waves — like the ones of recent weeks — are now <a href="https://crd.lbl.gov/assets/Uploads/Wehner/California-heatwave-attribution-and-projection.pdf" target="_blank">3 to 4 degrees</a> Fahrenheit warmer due to climate change. By 2080, that same study finds such heat waves will intensify by another 3 to 5 degrees.</p><p>This week's NOAA report also finds that the same general area in the West also experienced one of its driest Augusts on record. This short-term dry and hot pattern is mainly due to natural cycles in weather, and from season to season has the biggest impact on the amount of area burned because it determines how dry the forests and brush are.</p><p>"Across the Western U.S. forests, we find that climatic measures of fuel dryness explain about ¾ of the year-to-year variability in the burned area — highlighting that climate very strongly enables big fire seasons in warm-dry summers and inhibits widespread fire activity in cool-wet summers," explains Abatzoglou.</p><p>But over the long term, human-caused climate change has been gradually drying out the atmosphere and the fuel. "The observed changes in fuel dryness [plus the] number of days of high fire danger have been particularly stark in the American West over the past half-century," says Abatzoglou.</p><p>Since the 1970s the warm season in the West has heated up by 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit. This extra heat has increased the evaporation of moisture from the surface. While atmospheric moisture has also increased some, it has not increased nearly as fast as the temperature. That has caused a long-term "moisture deficit" and has accelerated the rate of foliage drying. This is part of the reason why, according to research, the West has entered into one of the worst <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/climate-change-drought-california-western-united-states-study/" target="_blank">megadroughts</a> in the past 1,200 years.<br> <br>A <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2019EF001210" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recent study</a>, co-authored by Abatzoglou, found a direct link with <em>nearly all</em> of the increase in summer forest-fire area during the period from 1972–2018 driven by the increased moisture deficit. To illustrate just how impactful the moisture deficit is, right now, as <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/california-wildfire-overruns-14-firefighters-rugged-mountains/" target="_blank">unprecedented wildfires</a> burn out of control, the deficit is at record low levels in the majority of the Western U.S.</p>
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Many of New York City's coastal residents are plagued by flooding – during storms and on sunny days.
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By Harry Kretchmer
Who better to study the sea than a surfer?
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Wildfires raged through Oregon and Washington Monday and Tuesday, prompting evacuations, blanketing Seattle in unhealthy levels of smoke and destroying nearly all of a small Washington farming town.
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On a Labor Day weekend when the temperature hit 121 degrees in Los Angeles County, fire crews around California struggled to contain ongoing and growing blazes that have so far consumed more than 2 million acres this summer. That's equal to the entire state of Delaware going up in flames, according to the BBC.
The record heat coupled with dry and windy conditions is making the 22 fires in the state difficult for crews to contain. In a preventive measure, the state's power authority shut off electricity to 172,000 homes and businesses in 22 counties in Northern California. The power will not be fully restored until Wednesday evening, according to CNN.
The small mountain town of Big Creek in the Sierra Nevada mountain range saw trapped campers airlifted to safety while the fire burned through the town, destroying roughly two dozen homes, according to NBC News.
While a hydroelectric plant owned by Southern California Edison was destroyed, three propane tanks with 11,000 gallons of the flammable gas exploded and an elementary school caught fire.
The school's superintendent, Toby Wait, evacuated with his family, but his home was destroyed after they fled.
"Words cannot even begin to describe the devastation of this community," he said to The Fresno Bee, as NBC News reported.
The fire started on Friday and grew to burn nearly 80,000 acres Monday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It is zero percent contained.
"This one's in a class by itself," said U.S. Forest Service Supervisor Dean Gould during a Monday night press briefing, as CNN reported.
Farther south, Los Angeles and Ventura county are under a red flag warning as the cooling temperatures after the weekend's record heat are expected to usher in high winds, which may fan the flames of ongoing fires.
The state's fire authorities are currently battling 24 fires across the state, according to the BBC.
While the red flag warning in Los Angeles and Ventura counties is expected to last through Wednesday, the state will also see wind gusts of up to 50 mph in Northern California. Those high winds are particularly dangerous as they pose the threat of spreading flames over the dry vegetation that is parched after the weekend's heat, according to PG&E senior meteorologist Scott Strenfel, as CNN reported.
"Unfortunately, this wind event is occurring on the heels of the current heat wave and will produce critical fire potential conditions," Strenfel said, as CNN reported.
"Windy conditions, like those being forecast, increase the potential for damage and hazards to the electric infrastructure, which could cause sparks if lines are energized. These conditions also increase the potential for rapid fire spread," PG&E said in a news release on Monday.
All campgrounds across the state have been canceled in a season that has seen a record number of campers. The U.S. Forest Service said the following in a press release: "Most of California remains under the threat of unprecedented and dangerous fire conditions with a combination of extreme heat, significant wind events, dry conditions, and firefighting resources that are stretched to the limit."
According to the BBC, the Valley Fire in San Diego County has burned more than 10,000 acres near the small town of Alpine. In Angeles National Forest, the Bobcat fire has burned through nearly 5,000 acres and prompted the evacuation of the Mount Wilson Observatory.
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The traditional end of summer weekend will feel more like mid-July in the West.
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By Jamie Smith Hopkins
Disasters are stressful. Our warming world keeps adding fuel to the fires — and floods and hurricanes, among other calamities. What can be done about the trauma that follows?
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