It’s September! As I predicted, the Atlantic is lighting up. Tropical Storm Gordon and Hurricane Florence are out doing their thing. While TS Gordon is tracking up into Louisiana through Mississippi, Florence will be staying out to sea and sending swell to the Caribbean and the East Coast over the next week. By the time Gordon makes landfall it is expected to become a Category 1 hurricane. Stay tuned for more.
Image: National Hurricane Center – NOAA
10 recorded drownings in North Carolina this year - Four of those drownings took place on beaches that were recently renourished. Often, renourishment causes a change in the slope leading from the beach to the water’s edge. The interaction between the beach and the ocean happens over a narrow region that is shared between the sloping of the beach and the approaching waves. When renourishment occurs, there typically is an unnaturally steep slope leading into the water. When waves run up into this sand slope, energy is dissipated as a heavy beach break (see image below). Beach nourishments also cause an increase in riptides which form as the beach and ocean work together to reach equilibrium. Riptides can be disorienting to untrained swimmers and are a common cause of drowning. Doctors report being most concerned about spinal injuries.
Image: Cape May, New Jersey – Dan Ginolfi, 2017
WRDA - On Friday, September 7th, the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment will meet to receive testimony from the Corps of Engineers on Chief’s Reports received from the Corps. Congressional review of these reports, along with an explanation of the process by which the Corps develops its projects, is a necessary step in the finalizations of a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). Major General Scott Spellmon, Deputy Commanding General of Civil and Emergency operations will be a witness at the hearing.
The Congressional Research Service has issued a short 2-pager on Freshwater Harmful Algal Blooms. ‘Harmful’ seems redundant…To read it click here.
Florida Governor Rick Scott is under fire from Floridians claiming his Administration has done little for environmental protection in response to climate change. The science and information about climate change was brought before the Governor but no action was taken. Florida’s red tide is causing empty beaches and putrid air from thousands of pounds of decaying marine life, including fish, dolphins and manatees. Business and tourism are down roughly 50 % and has lost roughly $90 million since the red tide began. The red tide, in combination with the algal blooms from Lake Okeechobee, are contaminating Florida waters and causing disruption statewide. Florida is not the only state concerned…
Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin held a hearing to call for action on harmful algal blooms. Nutrient pollution is an ongoing problem and must be regulated at a state and federal level to incentivize farmers to reduce their use of fertilizer and prevent run off. “From South Florida to the Great Lakes to Alaska, harmful algal bloom are increasingly having negative impacts on fisheries resources and fishing opportunities,” said Glenn Hughes, President of the American Sportfishing Association. An algal bloom response program has been created but expires at the end of September. Senator Baldwin worked with a bipartisan group to introduce the Harmful Algal Boom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act of 2018, which ensures local communities have the tool to address water quality challenges and identify sources of pollution. Senators at the hearing have urged the House to take up the bill and pass it before the end of September. This is positive on a small scale, but a bill regulating the larger picture of farmers and runoff is really what is needed. Rep. Brian Mast has introduced a bill in 2017 titled the Federal Do No Harm Act of 2017. Mast says, “the federal government has played a big role perpetuating the recurring environmental and economic crises caused by Lake Okeechobee discharges, but they aren't taking responsibility for the damage caused to our community.” Mast hopes to keep lake levels lower during the winter to reduce the need for summer discharges. Lower lake levels make coincidently harm the lake, but a balance must be maintained between the lake, its tributaries and discharges that is best for the health of the ecosystem state-wide.
A $2.5 billion-dollar flood control project is to be implemented in Puerto Rico over the next decade at 100% Federal expense. The purpose is to prevent flooding that occurred during Hurricane’s Maria and Irma. This was an issue of flood control projects going unfinished (unfunded) in this territory. To read more about the 13 identified projects, click here.
The housing market is directly affected by coastal storms – and I’m not just talking about Miami. Read more here about why property values have remained lower than usual after Superstorm Sandy and why underestimated flood risk could potentially crash the housing market. Is your property at risk for flooding?