It is difficult to escape from a catastrophe. Climate change complicates it


(This is not to say that fire agencies such as Kalfire are not doing very well. The successful evacuation from South Lake Tahoe shows that more than 20,000 people managed to leave long before the fire reached the outskirts of the city. )

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As in the case of fires, one factor in the excitation of hurricanes is the heat. “Coastal waters are getting much warmer,” says Misra of Florida State University. When Hurricane Ida moved over the Gulf of Mexico, it was feeding on abnormally warm water, which led to fierce winds just as the storm came ashore.

Of course, hurricanes are complex phenomena, so there are other factors, such as the state of the atmosphere at the moment. Scientists need more data to fully understand the trend toward rapid intensification. Warmer water, Misra says, “doesn’t necessarily mean that all thunderstorms that land, will eventually be stronger than current ones. But it should definitely be alarming. “

So should the fact that a warmer atmosphere contains more moisture. “Under the right conditions, when convection occurs, it will squeeze more moisture out of the same volume of air in a future warm climate than the current one,” Misra says. “So the threat of a tropical cyclone – whether it intensifies quickly or not more often in the future – will be much greater, with rain it will be more.” Hurricane winds weaken when it hits land as it no longer feeds on the warm waters of the bay. But it still continues to rain as it moves inland, which could lead to devastating floods in all of the southern and eastern states.

Hurricane forecasters can accurately predict the path of a storm in a few days by providing state and local governments with invaluable data to inform evacuations; these models work and they save countless lives. But climate change is creating new challenges for modeling as it changes the behavior of hurricanes. “Most of our weather forecasting models fail to predict rapid intensification,” Misra says. “So that in itself is a big challenge to prepare for the hurricane’s mitigation.”

The extreme severity of today’s natural disasters also makes it difficult for citizens to analyze their own risk. “People set expectations based on previous experience, and this material is beyond people’s experience,” says Anne Bostrom, a risk communication researcher at the University of Washington. “A hurricane or fire increases to a greater intensity faster than people felt.” Someone who could safely stay at home during one of these disasters 20 years ago – either because they refused to leave or did not have the funds – could be in great danger today.

While the rapid intensification of the hurricane poses a danger to everyone, it is the worst for people who do not have the resources to get out quickly. “Many people who live along the coast are either extremely rich or extremely poor,” says Kyle Burke Pfeiffer, director of the National Center for Readiness Analytics at the Argonne National Laboratory. And for the poor, he continues, they may not have access to a vehicle, or they may not have the means or ability to leave work or home. And many times they live in buildings that are not designed to withstand external loads that pose various dangers to them, such as hurricanes. ”

In California, there is a similar problem: astronomical housing prices along the coast have pushed more people east to the urban interface of the wilderness, where cities meet the forest. Paradise is one of the cities like South Lake Tahoe. “More and more people in these areas – and that [the areas are] drier – leads to more fires near communities, “says Cova of the University of Utah. Therefore, fires tend to start closer to the city. and move faster. “It affects the evacuation because the available time may be lower than needed, as in Paradise.” Retirees, in particular, flock to these places, but older people who have movement problems will find it harder to evacuate as the fire approaches.


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