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The Gulf of Mexico is on fire and that may spark climate disasters to overlap with the pandemic.

7 min read

“I feel like more than anything, we’re just trying to keep our people in some state of calm as we daily put out these bleak circumstances, these bleak numbers. We’re just praying every day that we don’t end up in a state of anarchy.”  Belinda Constant, Mayor of Gretna, Louisiana

I understand we have our hands full at the moment with this lethal pandemic, but let us remember that brutal spring, summer and fall weather is coming at us fast and furious as the climate system breaks down. Spring floods, intense heatwaves, wildfires, heavy rain and hurricanes are all expected to be above average this time of year. We don’t have much time to react. A rapidly warming world will expose our vulnerability to simultaneous calamities most of which are of our own making.

Making matters worse is we have a simpleton in charge of protecting us from such disasters. God help us.

May I rant for a moment? Thank you.

This American Carnage needs to stop now, Mr. President. Your inaction and inability to remotely understand what your own ineptitude and incompetence have done to this country, you have led us into a dystopian world.

It is your fault that Coronavirus is sweeping the nation. It is your fault that the fight against climate change has taken such a massive hit by countries following your example that the Paris accords appear to now be unraveling


You are the cackling multi-headed dog Cerberus that guards the gates to the Underworld. You are killing us. You are. Perhaps millions of us will succumb to COVID because of your petty, vindictive child-like antics during this deadly pandemic. You and your entire sham of a “functioning government” should resign en masse because we can not afford another day with you and your ilk in charge especially during grim times such as these.

If you paid any attention to what the top scientists that you have available to you, you would know that the devastating forces of recurring pandemics and climate enhanced catastrophes will be unleashed to an unsuspecting nation. But, you know this already, don’t you? You were briefed repeatedly on the climate crisis by the same intelligence agencies that briefed you about Coronavirus 19.

There will be no sheltering at home, no hunkering down, no hiding, no escaping what is coming for us you useless piece of excrement. FFS Mr. Trump, do something.

Am I pissed off? You betcha I am. Rant over, scroll down for a new twist to the coronavirus story.

Matthew Cappucci writes in the Washington Post:

Water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico are running more than three degrees above average, increasing the prospects for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes this spring and potentially stronger hurricane activity in the summer and fall.

The last time Gulf of Mexico waters were similarly warm in 2017, it coincided with an above-average tornado season through the spring, and then Category 4 Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas Gulf Coast at the end of summer.

The balmy gulf waters have already contributed to abnormal warmth across the Deep South, where virtually the entirety of the Interstate 10 corridor through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia is wrapping up one of its top five warmest Marches on record. Numerous records have toppled, with some cities soaring into the 90s.

The Gulf of Mexico sea surface temperatures have run above normal over the past year, but they have sharply risen even higher in recent months.

Now, they are about three degrees above average, and that is likely to have a bearing on weather across the central and eastern Lower 48 in the months to come.

When sea surface temperatures are high more moisture and heat energy enters the atmosphere.

In the below tweet, MDR stands for Atlantic Main Development Region for hurricane development. 

Imagine another Harvey with floodwaters forcing millions to flee their homes only to fall victim to COVID in an emergency shelter. Or how about a tropical cyclone hitting NYC that causes electrical grid failure forcing residents from their overheated apartments into crowded streets where thousands seek relief.

Zahra Hirji has done just that in a fascinating Buzzfeed article on spring flooding in the mid-west.

She writes:

As an upsurge in coronavirus infections stretches thin the capacity of health care workers and emergency managers nationwide, the Midwest is bracing for another battle: a potentially devastating flood season.

“The current situation with COVID-19 presents us a fight on two fronts: one front, we have the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and on the other, what promises to be a very active spring 2020 flood season,” Sharon Broome, mayor of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, said on a press call Thursday.


For local leaders in the Midwest, this situation is offering a crash course in how to plan and respond to multiple types of disasters simultaneously. And in a warming world, overlapping and compounding disasters will likely be the new normal. Human-caused climate change is already increasing the intensity and likelihood of certain extreme weather events, including heavy rain and related flooding in the middle of the country.

“I think we can anticipate that as we move forward, we will see more burnout for our first responders, greater depletions of our supplies, and greater demand for more recovery money,” said Alice Hill, a climate fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who has also studied pandemics. 


So far, local officials have been tallying and growing reserves of personal protective equipment (PPE) for first responders, volunteers, and others involved in the anticipated flood response, including head coverings, masks, gloves, and goggles. In some areas, the distribution of premade sandbags to vulnerable communities has already started to avoid a last-minute rush if and when catastrophe strikes.

One area of disaster management that’s especially complicated by the pandemic is sheltering displaced people. Red Cross members are planning to work with local officials to see if there are hotels or dorms available to give people displaced by flooding shelter while also keeping them separated enough to prevent the potential spread of the virus. If a shelter needs to be set up, people coming in would also get screened for symptoms of COVID-19, such as by getting their temperatures checked, according to Trevor Riggen, senior vice president of disaster cycle services at the American Red Cross. Anyone exhibiting symptoms would be isolated.

The article notes that cities like New Orleans and Baton Rouge, that are being hammered by COVID,  have had to shelve their flood planning.


What Climate Grief Taught Me About the Coronavirus

How to find humanity amid an ever-present dread

Every “climate person,” as meteorologist and columnist Eric Holthaus has termed this class of people, can tell you about the moment the enormity of the crisis broke their heart. The experience is as common as it is unique. We didn’t all go through the same steps in the same order, but we’ve all been through some version of it. In the past few years, more and more of us have gotten comfortable talking about it in public. It’s a cycle that never ends because it’s a crisis that never ends.

My climate grief and my grief about the coronavirus pandemic feel devastatingly similar. Both crises represent tectonic shifts in the way the world works. Both bring a sense of finality, that “nothing will ever be the same again.” Both force me to accept the end of something big and precious and irreplaceable. And I don’t know what comes next.  

Perhaps the most difficult and dizzying discrepancy is time. It took me about four years to fully process my climate grief (as much as one can), whereas my coronavirus grief has had to adhere to a cruelly compressed timescale of just a few weeks. Also, my climate grief was so difficult to process because not everyone saw what I saw. I felt like I could see the near future, so close I could touch it—but to the people around me it remained invisible. They saw a world that was still safe, still stable. Try as I might, I couldn’t pull the scales from their eyes. That’s not the case with the coronavirus, at least not anymore. Everybody sees it.

Cruelly and ironically, when I grieved the climate crisis, I mourned the coming onslaught of pandemics. I knew that warming temperatures would allow dangerous diseases to travel farther. I knew that intensifying storms and fires would devastate our medical infrastructure and force people to live in conditions that were veritable playgrounds for contagion. I knew that melting permafrost would unleash diseases that were literally prehistoric, and that no one knew how all of that would play out. All of that remains true, and it only serves to compound my grief over a pandemic that, so far, appears not to have originated in any of the scenarios that haunted my dreams.

Stay safe.

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