As I write this, Houston and Port Arthur, Texas are just beginning the cleanup from one of the most catastrophic storms in history. The damage will exceed even that of Hurricane Katrina. At the same time, torrential rains and flooding from Nepal to India have killed at least a thousand people and caused widespread suffering and economic disruption. Meanwhile, the planet is dotted with tens of thousands of wildfires. There is wildfire even in Greenland.
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Tropical storm Irma, presently in the south Atlantic and on a north-northwest course that could take it up the US east coast is forecast to become a hurricane over the weekend. It is not yet known if it will make landfall, but if it does, Florida and the Caribbean are the most likely areas of concern. It is also possible that the storm could move north and menace the US Atlantic Seaboard. Readers in any of these areas should watch this storm carefully as it is growing quickly and is forecast to become a category 2 hurricane and continue to grow from there.
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Hurricane Harvey expanded from a tropical storm to a category 4 hurricane in just 48 hours, and is now stalled over eastern Texas and western Louisiana and dropping rainfall in the area at a rate never before witnessed. But why is this? Like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, Harvey expanded to hurricane force with unexpected speed. The reason is that sea-surface waters in the Gulf of Mexico were between 2.7 and 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit above average. Water temperatures in the Gulf have been rising for the past thirty years, with the highest temperatures being recorded in 2011. They then dropped until 2013, and have since been rising again. read more

The governors of Florida and South Carolina have warned all residents in areas that may be affected by Hurricane Matthew  to evacuate or make appropriate preparations. The storm has crossed Haiti, but with communications down over most of the island, damage and casualties are unknown.

Life-threatening surf and rip-currents are now a danger over a wide area from Puerto Rico to Venezuela and north into the Bahamas. In their 8 a.m. Tuesday advisory, National Hurricane Center forecasters said the storm’s sustained winds are 145 mph. Matthew is now tracking slightly westward of its original course and should begin to affect Florida on Thursday, while passing directly over the Bahamas.
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