Surfing the aftershocks of 2017’s abnormal hurricane season


Mallika Singh

When we watch the news and try to put ourselves in the hurricane victims’ shoes, it seems almost impossible to imagine such a scenario. However, for a large part of our country, This “scenario” is a reality. Entire cities have been swallowed up by the water. Homes have come down on families. Collections of photos and irreplaceable memories gone. All because of the hurricanes.

This hurricane season has been anything but normal. This season, hurricanes have been coined the term “500-year hurricanes.” This means that there is a one in 500 chance that a hurricane with such a drastic impact will even occur in any given year. Therefore, people don’t generally plan for such an occurrence. This year, though, they probably should have.

Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 10.54.52 PM
Hurricane Harvey rescue teams. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

And why has the hurricane season been completely out of sorts? Two words: climate change.

This hurricane season, we’ve seen over three “500-year” hurricanes. The weather is changing. It’s no longer a proposition; it’s a fact. As ocean temperatures rise, these deadly hurricanes have more moisture in the air to build up power. The heat from the ocean serves as an energy source while the moisture in the air allows the storm clouds to expand.

Starting off on Aug. 25 with Harvey, which made landfall in Houston and quickly transitioned from Tropical Storm to Category-4 hurricane. Roads drowned by the rainfall and homes wrecked from the 130 mph winds led people to board boats all throughout the city. According to The Guardian, it could potentially take Houston years to completely recover from Harvey’s impact. It’s completely crazy and devastating to see what Harvey has done to the city of Houston.

As if this wasn’t enough for the country to deal with, on Aug. 30, just as the winds of Harvey were dying down, Hurricane Irma crept up in the distance on the east, quickly picking up speed. It wasn’t until Sept. 9 that Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys, but by that time, it was clear that this one was going to be just as bad as Harvey, or worse. After seeing the impact of Harvey, a Category-4 hurricane, people began to worry as Irma was a clean Category-5 hurricane as it made its way to Miami. City-wide evacuations were called for as millions of people made their way north. Though damages in Miami were not nearly as bad as they were in Houston, it will still take weeks and possibly months to get things back to the way they were.

Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 10.53.27 PM
Hurricane Harvey rescue team. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

The rainy days, however, weren’t over just yet. Following Irma came Category-4 Hurricane Jose as well as Category-4 Hurricane Maria not a week later.

This change in weather patterns was visible in the 2017 hurricane season in other places as well. In the Bay Area, a heat wave swept through San Francisco, breaking the previous record of 103 degrees Fahrenheit and replacing it with a record of 106 degrees Fahrenheit, according to The Mercury News. This was followed by high humidity as well as lighting which is not something that is considered normal in Cupertino.  Even in a place with apparently “perfect” weather things have started to change.

Let’s not forget the earthquakes that have been hitting Mexico one after another. The country suffered an 8.1 magnitude earthquake that was just off the coast causing a 40 foot tsunami in Mexico City, according to CNN. Barely two weeks after that, they were hit with another 7.1 magnitude earthquake and then another 6.1 earthquake soon followed.

It’s really quite simple. Things are going crazy. Perhaps it’s the universe telling us to get it together. Perhaps it’s a reaction to the years of climate change passing us by as we sit around and do nothing. If we continue to sit around nothing will ever get better. All I know is that in the month of September alone, there have been three to four major hurricanes, the hottest heat wave to ever hit the Bay Area and three consecutive earthquakes in Mexico.

Coincidence? I think not.