Ida's remnants pounding North and South Carolina; El Salvador flooding toll at 160
The remnants of Tropical Storm Ida have pushed off the coast of Georgia, and are adding fuel to a developing extratropical storm that is pounding North and South Carolina with heavy rain and high winds. Over two inches of rain has fallen across much of the region, and NOAA's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (Figure 1) predicts that up to eight inches of rain could fall in coastal North Carolina by Saturday. Adding to the rainwater flooding problems from all this rain will be coastal flooding from tropical storm-force winds of 40 mph expected to build tonight through Thursday along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. High tides up to four feet above normal are expected from the strong winds. North Carolina will end up getting a more severe pounding from Ida's remnants than Ida gave to the Gulf Coast. You can follow the storm with our Severe Weather Page.
Figure 1. Forecast precipitation for the 5-day period ending at 7 am EST Saturday November 14, 2009. Image credit: NOAA/Hydrometeorological Prediction Center
Invest 98L no threat
Another extratropical storm (Invest 98L), currently spinning over the Atlantic a few hundred miles northwest of Puerto Rico, is showing no signs of development, and will be entering a region of very high wind shear of 30 - 40 knots on Thursday. It currently appears that 98L will swing northward and northeast out to sea on Friday and Saturday, and not merge with the extratropical remnants of Ida currently pounding North Carolina.
Gulf Coast cleans up after Ida
Tropical Storm Ida left mostly minor damage across the Gulf Coast, with the heaviest damage being reported on the west end of Alabama's Dauphin Island. Roads there were covered with sand and water, and moderate beach erosion was reported. At Gulf State Park at Orange Beach, Alabama, the new fishing pier--the longest on the Gulf of Mexico--suffered heavy damage, and will be closed indefinitely. The pier was replaced after being destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, and just opened in July. "We may have significant losses," said Phillip West, Orange Beach coastal resources manager, discussing beach erosion from Ida. "Not catastrophic or devastating, but significant."
In the Florida Panhandle near Pensacola, Ida washed huge amounts of sand over Fort Pickens Road in Gulf Islands National Seashore, and over heavily traveled J. Earle Bowden Way, which connects Pensacola and Navarre beaches. Both roads are closed indefinitely. Fort Pickens Road was washed out by Hurricane Opal in 1995, and moved to a new location. Hurricane Ivan washed the road out in 2004. It was rebuilt, but was destroyed and rebuilt three more times in 2005, thanks to Tropical Storm Arlene and Hurricanes Cindy and Dennis. The most recent rebuilding of the road put it at a lower elevation, to allow sand to wash over it. It is hoped the cost of this latest repair will be under $1 million.
Editorial comment: perhaps having a low-lying road along a barrier island that regularly washes out, requiring millions in taxpayer repair money to fix, is a bad idea?? Seems to me like this is taxpayer money ill-spent. The 1988 Stafford Act, authorizing the rebuilding of damaged infrastructure after presidentially declared emergencies, has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money being spent to rebuild infrastructure damaged by tropical storms and hurricanes on barrier islands. In an era of rising sea levels, and with the U.S. in the midst of an active hurricane period expected to last at least another decade, the Stafford Act just doesn't make sense. Those living in areas subject to a very high level of repeated coastal hazards should pay the bills for their willingness to live in harm's way, rather than depending on Uncle Sam.
In a interview in the New York Times after the last time Fort Pickens Road was washed out, Dr. Orrin Pilkey, professor emeritus in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University and author of the excellent 2009 book The Rising Sea, said, "People say, 'What are you going to do, let the road fall in? The correct answer, of course, is yes."
Food shortages in El Salvador after floods kill at least 160
A tropical disturbance that dumped up to 17.4" (442 mm) of rain in 24 hours over central El Salvador on Sunday has triggered the need for urgent food aid after flood and landslides destroyed huge swaths of crops during harvest season, according to the U.N. World Food Program. The storm killed at leat 160 people, with dozens more still missing. About 13,000 people are homeless after the disaster.
Figure 2. Collapsed bridge at Santa Cruz La Libertad, El Salvador, with people trying to cross the river. Image credit: Wunderphotographer DiegoSagrera
For those interested in making a donation to assist in disaster relief for El Salvador, Portlight.org has a Paypal donation page set up for this. All funds raised will be forwarded to José Luis Escobar Alas, Catholic Archbishop of San Salvador, and used to assist flooding victims at the discretion of the Archbishop.
Tuesday morning as Ida passes through.