Tropical Storm Cindy Threatens 17 Million Along the Gulf Coast
By Bob Henson
A high risk of life-threatening flooding continues on Wednesday over parts of the central Gulf Coast as Tropical Storm Cindy lumbers toward shore. The greatest flood threat will be across low-lying areas of far southern Mississippi and Alabama, according to the NWS/NOAA Weather Prediction Center. A second area with a moderate flood risk lies across far southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana.
As of 8 a.m. EDT Wednesday, Cindy was centered about 200 miles southeast of Galveston, TX, moving northwest at 8 mph. Cindy's top sustained winds were estimated at 60 mph. Models are in general agreement that Cindy will continue northwest and gradually arc northward. The official outlook from the NOAA/NWS National Hurricane Center early Wednesday brought Cindy ashore near the Texas/Louisiana border on Thursday afternoon. Tropical storm warnings were in effect from San Luis Pass, TX, to the Alabama/Florida border, including metropolitan Houston and New Orleans. Most of the impacts from Cindy will be near or east of where its center makes landfall.
Figure 1. WU tracking map for Tropical Storm Cindy.
Figure 2: Enhanced infrared satellite image of Tropical Storm Cindy as of 7:52 a.m. EDT Wednesday, June 21, 2017. The location of Cindy's center of circulation as of 8 a.m. EDT is shown by the star.NASA MSFC Earth Science OfficeSatellite images of Cindy on Wednesday morning showed a disheveled, ragged-looking tropical storm, with showers and thunderstorms (convection) located mainly well north and east of a low-level circulation whose center was largely devoid of rainfall (see Figure 2).
"Cindy does not look much like a tropical cyclone on satellite images this morning," acknowledged NHC forecaster Richard Pasch early Wednesday. Cindy's convection was being shunted from its center by strong southwest wind shear of around 30 mph. That shear will remain strong through Wednesday, according to the SHIPS model, which should prevent Cindy from any further consolidation as it pushes toward land.
Tropical storms and depressions do not have to be super-organized or packed with fierce winds to cause plenty of trouble. Even a weak, slow-moving system can produce enormous amounts of rain and massive flooding. We saw this with 2016's "no-name flood" across southeast Louisiana, a $10 billion disaster produced by a system that never even qualified as a tropical depression.
"Residents in South Louisiana are still cleaning up from this catastrophic flood, which inundated tens of thousands of buildings," wrote storm surge expert Hal Needham in a blog post on Tuesday. "Last month I drove through Denham Springs, Louisiana, one of the worst impacted areas, and was saddened to see many people still cleaning up and living in trailers on their property. Let's hope the forecasted heavy rains do not repeat flooding in these hardest-hit areas."
Figure 3. Projected 7-day rainfall totals from 8 a.m. EDT Wednesday, June 21, 2017, to Wednesday, June 28. These rains will fall atop several inches already recorded through early Wednesday along the central Gulf Coast.NOAA/NWS
Fortunately, Cindy is not expected to produce the rainfall totals of more than 30" observed in August 2016, but flooding may still be widespread and locally problematic. Many low-lying roads in the New Orleans area were under two to three feet of water early Wednesday, according to the local NWS office, and substantial flooding may persist through Thursday. Widespread rainfall of 3"–6" had already occurred across the central Gulf Coast from bands of convection that swept inland from late Tuesday into Wednesday morning. One observer reported 6.11" just west of Pensacola, FL, as of 5 a.m. CDT Wednesday.
Tornado watches were in effect across the central Gulf Coast on Wednesday morning, and the NOAA/NWS Storm Prediction Center has outlooked the area with a slight risk of tornadoes and other severe weather for Wednesday. A tornado was photographed off the coast of St. George Island, Florida, on Tuesday.
Winds gusted to 41 mph just after midnight Tuesday night at New Orleans International Airport. Cindy's strongest remained mainly offshore as of Wednesday morning, and the threat of wind damage from Cindy is expected to remain on the low side even as the storm moves ashore on Thursday. As the remnants of Cindy migrate northward, they will eventually merge with a frontal system and slide across Kentucky and Tennessee, leading to as much as 6" of rain in parts of those states from Friday into Saturday.
Figure 4. A street in Grand Isle, LA, inundated by floodwaters associated with Tropical Storm Cindy.Henry Bennett, via WWLS-TV and NWS/New Orleans.
Reposted with permission from Weather Underground.
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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