Storms target Florida

Hurricane season is underway, and the big storms are destroying parts of the United States’ coastline and leaving devastation in their wake. Hurricane Irma was a Category 5 at press time and on target to hit Florida over the weekend.

Puerto Rico and Barbuda were hit early Wednesday morning. The storm brought heavy rain and powerful winds, leaving more than 600,000 people without power in Puerto Rico alone. According to The Associated Press, the power outages could last for months and the area is described as uninhabitable. The eye of the storm hit Barbuda, causing nearly every building on the island to be destroyed, leaving nearly 1,400 people homeless. A 2-year-old child was killed when the family tried to escape during the storm.

Officials at the U.S National Hurricane Center are concerned Hurricane Irma will move up the entire Florida coast from Miami to Jacksonville, then head into Georgia and the Carolinas hitting a lot of highly-populated areas. Irma is one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The National Hurricane Center warns that this storm is life-threatening and has caused catastrophic damage with sustained winds of 185 mph.

“Global warming could play a part in the vicious hurricane season,” said Stephen Kallenberg, Richland professor of geology and environmental science. “If you pay attention to the weather this year, it seemed like it took longer to get hot in Dallas and in the Gulf of Mexico last winter. The temperature did not get below 73 degrees on average and normally the Gulf of Mexico gets much cooler. This year it didn’t cool and caused the Gulf of Mexico to set a record. When the Gulf of Mexico stays warmer we usually see the storms become much stronger,” he said.

 Juan Negron, left, prepares to start up a generator in front of what’s left of his property after the passage of Hurricane Irma on the island of Puerto Rico, Sept. 7.

Juan Negron, left, prepares to start up a generator in front of what’s left of his property after the passage of Hurricane Irma on the island of Puerto Rico, Sept. 7.

Kallenberg said the eclipse had no effect on the hurricane season.

“The tides may have gotten higher during the time of the eclipse but after the eclipse was over, the tides in the ocean returned to normal.”

Katia is a new tropical storm that formed recently in the Gulf of Mexico off the Mexican coast and has turned rapidly into a hurricane. Hurricane José is also churning in the Atlantic.

Many people were trying to escape the hurricanes by flying to different cities to be with family and friends until the storms passes. Reports indicate all flights leaving out of the coastal cities are booked and ticket prices had increased significantly.

Those who couldn’t escape stocked up on water and food. At press time they were bracing for Hurricane Irma to came ashore.