Amidst a terrifying and fast-spreading pandemic, the public began to see weather reports from news channels signifying the prediction of this year’s hurricane season and it is not looking good for countries near the Atlantic Ocean. With resources being utilized solely on COVID-19, a natural disaster would be devastating.
According to CBS News, meteorologists at Colorado State University predicted an “above average” hurricane season, “the team forecasts 16 named tropical systems; 12 is the average. Eight of those named systems are forecast to reach hurricane status, with winds greater than 74 mph; Six is the usual amount per year.” In specific, CNN News reported that “four of the hurricanes will become major storms of Category 3 to 5, with sustained winds of at least 111 mph, the projections indicate for the season that runs from June 1 to November 30.”
Even the most prestigious scholars have no idea how the world can simultaneously deal with a deadly virus and battle major hurricanes. There are still various countries recovering from previous hurricane seasons. Back in September of 2019, when Category 5 Hurricane Dorian made landfall on the Bahamas, the Abaco islands were depleted of housing due to water completely submerging certain areas and recovery efforts are still ongoing. According to David Eisenbaum with the charity of All Hands and Hearts, he states that “there’s a tremendous need for manpower and the recovery is limited by this shortage of labor.” Now that coronavirus has halted the efforts of volunteer groups, there is no telling how the Bahamas would sustain their infrastructure heading into a new hurricane season.
Puerto Rico is another country that is still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017. Recovery efforts have progressed slowly and according to the Miami Herald, “the government estimates that anywhere from 25,000 to 30,000 people are still living under temporary blue tarps or have no roofs at all.” The Puerto Rican government claims to still be waiting on FEMA funds and has not attempted to move reconstruction efforts forward, making Puerto Rico one of the most vulnerable areas for another hurricane to come through.
The 2020 hurricane season may not come as a shock considering how many have formed over the past few years. This is likely due to the increase of warmer temperatures in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico and the ongoing debate of global warming that continues to persist in the research community. According to a tweet by Jeff Berardelli, CBS News meteorologist and climate specialist, he reveals that 8+ areas in the Gulf of Mexico alone are 5F above the normal temperature. But looking at the positive side, many have speculated on the correlation between coronavirus and climate change, especially due to a reduction in fossil fuels. According to The Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air, “In China, measures to contain the virus in February alone caused a drop in carbon emissions of an estimated 25 percent… this is equivalent to 200 million tons of carbon dioxide.” Even if this occurrence does not replicate itself in the western hemisphere, one can only hope for the world to be rid of pollution.
Unfortunately, at a sensitive time like this, there is no immediate tell for how these hurricanes may form and the paths they will take. In a world separated from our neighbors, it makes it nearly impossible for individuals to unite, but maintaining high morale and comfort staying home will do more good than harm.