Florence could hit with punch not seen in more than 60 years
By EMERY P. DALESIO
Tuesday, September 11
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The last time the midsection of the East Coast stared down a hurricane like this, Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House and Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were newlyweds.
Hurricane Florence could inflict the hardest hurricane punch the Carolinas have seen in more than 60 years, with rain and wind of more than 130 mph (209 kph). North Carolina has been hit by only one other Category 4 storm since reliable record keeping began in the 1850s. That was Hurricane Hazel in 1954.
In comparison, Florida, which is closer to the equator and in line with the part of the Atlantic where hurricanes are born, off the African coast, has had at least five hurricanes in the past century of Category 4 or greater, including Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Hazel’s winds were clocked at 150 mph at the North Carolina coast and kept roaring inland. They were only slightly diminished by the time the storm reached Raleigh, 150 miles inland. Nineteen people died in North Carolina. The storm destroyed an estimated 15,000 buildings.
“Hazel stands as a benchmark storm in North Carolina’s history,” said Jay Barnes, author of books on the hurricane histories of both North Carolina and Florida. “We had a tremendous amount of destruction all across the state.”
Twelve hours after its landfall, Hazel was in Buffalo, New York, and had ripped through seven states with winds still swirling at 100 mph or more.
Few people have experienced the ferocity of a storm like Hazel, which also was blamed for at least 60 deaths in Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York state.
Jerry Helms, 86, was on his honeymoon on a barrier island off the North Carolina coast when Hazel hit on the evening of Oct. 14, 1954. He and his new bride had been to a roller skating rink and missed the evacuation warnings from police officers who went door to door.
Hazel obliterated all but five of 357 buildings in the beach community now known as Oak Island. The Helmses barely survived.
As the storm crashed ashore, they abandoned their mobile home for a two-story frame house. Before long, it was collapsing under the waves and “the house was falling in, and all the furniture was falling out through the floor,” Helms recalled Monday.
He thought the roof of a neighboring cinderblock house might be safer, but soon a big wave went over that house. When the wave went out, the house was gone, Helms said.
“There was another house — a wooden house that was coming down the road more or less — and it had some guy in that thing and he’s hollering for help,” he said.
Helms pushed a mattress through the top-floor window, and they hung on as it bobbed in the raging water.
What lessons is he applying now that a similarly powerful hurricane is coming?
“I didn’t feel like it was going to be bad enough to leave,” Helms said. “I don’t know. I just felt better about staying here than I did leaving.”
He doesn’t have a safer destination in mind, and having recently broken ribs in a fall, Helms fears getting stuck as thousands abandon the coast.
Meanwhile, Aida Havel and her husband, John, made preparations Monday to evacuate their home in the Outer Banks village of Salvo, where they’ve lived for about a year. They are heading about 200 miles inland to their former hometown of Raleigh, where Hurricane Fran hit in 1996. Fran took a similar inland path to what forecasters are calling for with Florence.
“I had a tree that smashed my car down in my driveway,” Aida Havel said. “Even though that was 22 years ago, I have never gotten over it.”
The throngs of vehicles heading inland demonstrate the big difference between Hazel’s impact and the damage Florence could cause, Barnes said.
“Today, we have thousands and thousands of permanent residents on our barrier beaches,” he said. “It’s a totally different scenario with regard to human impact.”
Follow Emery P. Dalesio on Twitter at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/emery%20dalesio .
Associated Press Writer Jonathan Drew in Raleigh contributed to this story.
For the latest on Hurricane Florence, visit www.apnews.com/tag/Hurricanes .
Climate change conflicts are here – and ‘scallop wars’ are just the beginning
September 10, 2018
PhD Candidate/Associate Lecturer, Nottingham Trent University
Heather Alberro does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Nottingham Trent University provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.
As the planet warms, species are moving further north to climate zones which are closer in temperature to what they originally evolved in. The oceans have absorbed most of this temperature increase, and so many marine species, including commercially fished scallops, are under particular stress to migrate northwards to cooler waters.
In the face of this disruption, legal boundaries for fishing fleets could become increasingly irrelevant. As the fish stocks they once contained move out, conflict is likely to arise between countries exploiting neighbouring fishing grounds.
As a result, the ongoing “scallop war”, which has seen tense physical confrontations between French and British scallop fishers over access to these prized molluscs, may be a taste of worse to come.
The habitat ranges and migration patterns of commercial species in the ocean have been carefully studied throughout history, so that fishing fleets can exploit them more efficiently. This understanding has informed the division of fishing grounds according to who has the right to harvest them.
French scallop fishers were incensed over their British counterparts’ alleged pillaging of scallop stocks, as smaller British boats aren’t bound by a French law that prohibits dredging in the Baie de Seine from October 1 through May 15, to allow scallop populations to recover.
While on the surface it might seem that these skirmishes are anchored to specific circumstances – potentially inflamed by existing tensions around Brexit – they highlight the enormous difficulties in clearly mapping and enforcing legal boundaries around natural habitats that are changing rapidly.
These disputes over resources such as food will become more frequent and intense as climate change alters the habitats and material conditions of life on Earth.
Fisheries in flux
Managing marine resources like fish has always been tricky. Each species responds differently to changes and pressures in its environment, making it difficult for anyone to predict exactly where they will be, when or how far they will migrate, and how many remain. Climate change has introduced new uncertainty.
The effects of rising temperatures, though variable across species, have already begun to alter the sizes, distribution, and food web interactions of marine organisms. Warming seas have led to an overall northward movement for many species, some at a pace of 2.2 kilometres per year. This includes commercial species such as the Atlantic cod, a trend that is observable among land-based animals as well.
More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere means more of it dissolves in the ocean, making seawater more acidic. This process, known as ocean acidification, is making it difficult for species such as scallops to grow their tough calcium-carbonate shells, threatening their growth and survival.
On top of all of this, we’re taking from the ocean more than it can replenish. Currently over 90% of large commercial fish species such as tuna and cod have already been caught, and over 70% of the world’s fisheries range from “significantly depleted” to “fully exploited”. Species unable to adapt to this pressure are likely to decline or even disappear.
Building bridges over troubled water
If the scallop wars end soon, climate change will continue to disrupt marine ecosystems and render political boundaries increasingly outdated. We will need to have a radical rethink of who should have rights to what, who is to have the authority in managing important areas and resources, and what constitutes a truly sustainable harvest.
Greater communication and collaboration between fishers, policymakers, researchers and the wider public will become essential for navigating the troubled waters ahead.
Perhaps it is also time to take the interests of other species into consideration in this process, by viewing the natural world and non-human life as more than mere resources or a backdrop to the unfolding human drama.