Climate change is real. For so long it was a point of debate, a political topic, a portrait of the future that made people shudder but felt so far away. Unfortunately, the reality of the climate growing steadily warmer due to greenhouse gases is not just a scary tale anymore. Global warming increases the frequency and intensity of many natural disasters, and climate change hurricanes have become a very real threat.
As a climate increases in temperature, the resulting warmer water feeds hurricanes and makes them stronger. Warmer water provides more energy to the storms. With warmer water, comes more precipitation because warmer air contains more moisture. In addition to these two factors, the impact of climate change hurricanes will increase with rising sea levels, resulting in more damage to the coastline and any infrastructure built nearby. Some scientists predict that sea level rise could be as high as one foot by the end of the century.
While there isn’t necessarily conclusive evidence that global warming will increase the number of hurricanes that occur (it might), the warming of the air and the ocean will increase the intensity of storms when they do happen, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded that extreme weather events are increasing across the globe. No matter where you live, it’s important to understand weather patterns in your region. If you live in Iowa or Minnesota, it’s a good idea to head to the basement when a tornado rips through town – though the opposite might be true if you live in an area susceptible to flooding.
Get to know the geography of the place you call home. You might discover aspects you love but never knew before. You will also have a better understanding of weather and environmental risks.
A hurricane, also known as a tropical cyclone, is a type of storm that forms over tropical or subtropical bodies of water. It is a rotating weather system with sustained winds reaching 74 mph or higher. Hurricanes originate in the Atlantic basin. This is an area that includes the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and sometimes the North and East Pacific Ocean.
While hurricane season is widely understood to be between June 1 and October 30, these storms can and do take place outside this given timeframe. Areas along the Atlantic Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Hawaiian Islands are the most vulnerable to hurricanes.
A plan of action is an empowering way to do what you can for yourself and the people you love. If you live in an area that is known to experience hurricanes, make a plan when the weather is great and be prepared when a storm takes a turn for the worse and as climate change fuels the intensity of the storms:
If you live in an area where hurricanes often hit, chances are you will need to evacuate at some point. Even if you never have to, it’s important to have a plan just in case. Locate any nearby storm shelters, connect with relatives or friends further inland, consider any pets you have and other people for whom you are responsible. These are all important things to be thinking about, as everyone’s evacuation plan might be different.
This includes food and water for three days, medication, a first aid kit, a flashlight, batteries, and cash.
Research your community’s emergency alert system and sign up. You can also download helpful apps, and check-in via television and radio. Make sure your phone is charged. Often, texting can be a better way to communicate with loved ones as calls can overload servers in the aftermath of an emergency.
In the event of needing to evacuate, you’ll want to know exactly where any important paperwork is so that you can grab it and go without wasting too much time. This is a great thing to organize on a lazy, relaxing day when the weather is ideal. You don’t want to be rummaging through cabinets in the midst of a disaster, looking for your prescriptions or passports.
Some tangible steps to take to protect your home and property include cleaning and clearing your gutters, tying any outdoor items down, and bringing items like patio furniture inside. Review your insurance policy and make sure you have the best coverage you can get.
Often, we move about the world without paying attention to our surroundings. It is easy to underestimate the power of Mother Nature and storms like hurricanes. We forget that we are so often at the mercy of weather patterns and storm paths. Even before you find yourself in the midst of storms and extreme weather scenarios, you can make smart decisions and watch for warning signs. Turn on the radio during heavy rainfalls. If a road is flooded, don’t drive, bike, or walk through it.
Know the risks of living in your geographical zone. An extreme weather event will certainly call attention to your surroundings in new ways – but you can be smart and attentive before a crisis hits, and be better prepared when emergencies do happen.
Even with the most optimistic predictions of climate change outcomes, our world is changing fast. If you live in an area that continues to flood again and again, or in a coastal zone ravaged by climate change hurricanes with regularity, it might be time to make some difficult decisions about where to live in order to build the best life for you and your family.
While many folks do not have the luxury of picking up and moving at the drop of a dime, saving up resources might be a smart idea if you are able. This is especially true when considering buying property, starting a family, or any other long-term dreams and goals that are community and location dependent. Talk with your family and loved ones. Have open and honest conversations about concerns and plans for the future.
Perhaps you live on the coast. Maybe your home is on the prairie. Either way, climate change will radically shift the way we move through the world and the way our societies are structured. Places we know and love could very well become uninhabitable, while unknown towns and communities might be able to offer safe havens for a future we can not avoid.