Monday, August 24, 2020

Massive California fires and two tropical storms in the Gulf of Mexico, two climate-fueled weather disasters

Although I last blogged explicitly about the climate in Vox describes how climate change is brewing a crisis for coffee growing and current weather events in Michigan flooded while Trump tweeted then refused to wear a mask on camera, I have covered two of my "favorite" climate-aggravated natural disasters, hurricanes and wildfires, little if at all this year. The closest I came to the latter was Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, and others highlight Australian fires and climate change at the Golden Globes, which was an entertainment story first and an environmental story second. I have my opportunity to write about both today, as both fires and tropical storms are in the news. I begin with Good Morning America reporting Nearly 1M acres burned in California wildfires.

The massive deadly infernos have become the second and third largest fires in state history and as firefighters work tirelessly, businesses in Santa Cruz are being looted.
ABC News proper has more in California fire disaster death toll rises.

Hundreds of National Guard soldiers are training to help understaffed firefighters as wildfires burn more than a million acres. ABC’s Mona Kosar Abdi reports.
That ex-girlfriend I mention from time to time lives in the fire area. I hope she and her husband are O.K. and their house survives.

I know what it feels like to have fire this close, something I wrote about two years ago in California's Camp and Woolsey fires air pollution seen from space and felt on ground. I saw the damage up close in January 2019, when my mom and I drove from her California house to the sea and back. Once we hit the burnt area, we didn't leave it until we got to Malibu; the fire burned all the way to the coast. I was astounded. It's one thing to watch the news reports; it's another to see it up close and in person.

Follow over the jump for the stories about tropical storms Laura and Marco.

Good Morning America also reported Gulf coast braces for 2 tropical systems this morning.

Marco and Laura are set to make landfall just days apart along the Gulf Coast.
As the reporter noted, the two storms are arriving just in time for the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall in Louisiana. Another thing to note is that Katrina was the K storm name for 2005, a year that had so many named storms that meteorologists ran out of names and started using Greek letters. We're already up to M and it's not even September. There are only eight names remaining on the 2020 list. As if 2020 couldn't get any worse, we could run out of names for tropical storms and hurricanes again.

It turned out that the last time I wrote about hurricanes in the Gulf Coast was Hurricane Barry cuts U.S. oil production plus a driving update for July 2019: Pearl. CNBC covered the story with a similar angle in Refineries brace for two tropical storms threatening the Gulf of Mexico.

CNBC's Brian Sullivan takes a look at how two back-to-back tropical storms will affect the Gulf's oil businesses.
If this were any other year, oil prices would be jumping. Instead, it's 2020, when Oil fell below $0.00 for the first time ever, so two tropical storms bearing down on the Gulf Coast aren't having much effect — yet. If it does, I'll try to cover it, although the story will have a hard time breaking through the 2020 election, and COVID-19 pandemic. Stay tuned.


  1. a year that had so many named storms that meteorologists ran out of names and started using Greek letters.

    If they run out of names this year, they should start using Chinese characters. There are at least 6,000 available. If the storms keep coming two at a time (or worse), we may need them.

    1. LOL. I don't think that would be necessary, as the record-breaking 2005 season only used six Greek letters. There are 24 letters in the Greek alphabet, so there were 18 left. That should be enough designations for the foreseeable future unless one of the Greek letters is retired. Even then, I suspect another alphabet would be used once the Greek letters runs out. Hebrew, anyone?