that’s my expectation of news headlines in the coming months of what is expected to be a busy 2010 hurricane season. There is good reason to be concerned about what the rains may deliver to the Asheville area as storms move inland from the Gulf of Mexico.
It’s heartbreaking enough to consider the impacts of what is already happening. Devastation to wildlife and coastal environments, the long term impacts of which have yet to be fully understood and economic loses to communities that will be felt for generations.
It is hard to believe the environmental catastrophe created by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could have a direct impact in the Mountains of Western North Carolina. Guess what; it can get worse, much worse. Consider this likely scenario; a tropical storm develops and moves into the Gulf. As it progresses on any of the historical tracks seasonal Gulf storms take, the storm strengthens and becomes a hurricane; or not, it really doesn’t matter. As the storm builds and feeds on the warm waters it will also pick up oil from the surface. The oil will be carried high into the upper regions of the building storm. As the system intensifies and continues to progress towards landfall it will bring with it a churning concoction of oil and chemicals that have been spilled and sprayed into the ocean. We should be concerned, very concerned of what this storm will leave in its wake. Contamination from the oil spill could reach well beyond of the Gulf region. The oil and chemicals could be spread as far as the storm is capable of traveling. This toxic mixture will end up in watersheds, lakes, forests, mountain tops and valleys possibly as far inland as the Great Lakes or beyond. Everywhere the rains fall from this storm will be at risk of receiving some measure of this toxic soup drawn up from the Gulf of Mexico. Its a very troubling possibility.
All forecasts indicate the United States will experience a very active 2010 storm season. La Nina is rapidly forming in the Pacific with characteristics similar to those of the 1998 La Nina event. All trusted data sources indicate an above average storm season. As for the Gulf region, data indicates the likelihood of five to seven named storms forming, of which two to four will become hurricanes. Researchers expect three to six of the named storms to make landfall along the Gulf, with an 80 percent chance that at least one of those storms will be of hurricane status. In addition, there is a 55 percent chance that one major hurricane will hit the U.S. Gulf Coast.
I’m not going to make predictions of where a storm would be most likely to make landfall (we’ll let recent history speak for itself) but you can be almost certain that it will happen.
I’m not a scientist, but water quality and water resource preservation are what I think about everyday. A storm laden with oil and chemicals could create a situation with health and environmental impacts much greater than those of the spill itself. The consequences of such an event must be considered and planned for; and soon. As of noon today we see what is likely to be the first tropical storm of the season forming in the Atlantic on a track that could bring it into the Gulf.