The Verge publishes an article highlighting how the United States is experiencing unusually strong weather events, referencing Hurricane Fiona’s passage through Puerto Rico and its destructive aftermath. The piece reminds us of the effect climate change is having on weather patterns/
The US was caught in the crosshairs of both the Atlantic hurricane and Pacific typhoon seasons over the weekend, which saw storms deal heavy blows to communities across both Puerto Rico and Alaska.
More than 1.3 million customers are still without power in Puerto Rico today after Hurricane Fiona tore through the island on Sunday. Fiona’s heavy rains are forecast to bring more “life-threatening and catastrophic flooding,” mudslides, and landslides to Puerto Rico today before the storm moves on to batter other parts of the Caribbean.
With climate change, storms worldwide are becoming more unpredictable. At the same time, that lack of predictability is getting all too familiar. It’s too soon still for studies that can pinpoint exactly what role climate change played in either of the two storms that hit opposite areas of the US. But climate scientists already know that warmer ocean waters are fueling more dangerous storms when it comes to their strength and their ability to catch communities off guard.
Whether or not the lights come back on in Puerto Rico in the coming hours and days will show what kinds of lessons officials have learned since Hurricane Maria plunged the island into darkness in 2017. This week’s blackouts are a painful reminder of the catastrophe that unfolded there after the hurricane made landfall almost 5 years ago to the day on September 20th. Power outages lingered for 11 awful months, making it the longest blackout in US history. At the time, local leaders and emergency response experts criticized federal agencies for a bungled response to a crisis that took place in a US territory, compared to responses to similar disasters on the mainland.
The destruction from this weekend serves as another reminder of how it is those who are the most susceptible to the effects of climate change in the US that have the least power to do something about it.