Flooding at the Florida Fawcett Hospital: Hurricanes, Hurricane Florence, and the First Big Tropical Storm to Hit the US in Three Years
Climate change has increased the risk of floods for hospitals on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Half or more of hospitals in 25 metropolitan areas around the coast are at risk of flooding from hurricanes, according to a study. Sea level rise increases the risk of a hospital flooding by 22 percent.
Ian put water in the HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital this week. The building was flooded when the winds blew off the roof and the rain came in from above. Doctors in the hospital were expecting issues, internal medicine specialist Birgit Bodine told The Associated Press.
One of the strongest storms to ever hit the area was caused by Hurricane Florence, which traveled all the way to Newfoundland in Canada. And the first major tropical storm to hit the US this year didn’t pass over New Orleans or Miami, but San Diego—a city that almost never sees such weather. The presence of events like these in a year when so many other records have been set sets off alarm bells, as they are usually rare in the historical record. Climate change will cause storms like Ian to become more common, as extreme heat and precipitation are growing in intensity and regularity.
“Hurricanes are making their way northward. Matthew Eby is the founder and CEO of the First Street Foundation. “The second thing that comes along with that is they’re stronger.”
Human-caused climate change – which is warming the oceans and atmosphere – isn’t producing more hurricanes. But scientists have long said that it provides more fuel for stronger storms.
The probability of a hurricane in the North Atlantic strengthening into a major storm – a category 3 or higher – has increased from 10% in the 1980s to 40% today, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The destruction of buildings, bridges and barriers in Puerto Rico and Florida during Hurricanes: How many lives have we lost over the last 50 years?
I am talking about the damage done to the building, and not the total cost of human suffering. That’s almost incomprehensible. It is also impossible to know at the moment. Much of the area is impassable.
Roads and bridges have been laid to waste. Our article said that homes and businesses are covered in broken concrete and wood on barrier islands.
What is going on? What do you reckon the results of human influence on the climate were, two recent disastrous storms in particular? I’m trying to answer the questions as quickly as possible while still doing justice to the uncertainties, and also having some insight from the latest, rapidly evolving science.
The federal Forecasters said the apparent 2022 lull meant little because the number of storms tells you little about the severity of any given season. It only takes a big storm to cause major destruction.
That dread was justified. By the end of September, two deadly storms had hit the U.S. and killed more than 150 people: Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico, and Hurricane Ian in Florida.
Even though no hurricane made landfall on Florida in 2020 or 2021, the state’s insurance industry reported net underwriting losses exceeding $1 billion each year. The projected change was already there before Ian.
The critical phrase is over most of the planet, on the other hand. The only basin that matters more to the United States in terms of hurricane risk is the North Atlantic. In the North Atlantic, there has been a clear increase from the quiet 1970s and 1980s to a much more active period, on average, since the mid-’90s.
Once these aerosols were cleaned up by legislation in the US in the 1950s to 1970s and then in Europe, the Atlantic was able to warm up again rapidly, now also charged by greenhouse gas increases.
And new science darkens the prognosis for the Atlantic further. The last three years of La Niña conditions, when the eastern equatorial Pacific is cooler than average, are just part of a persistent trend in that direction over the last 50 years. Our climate models have failed to predict this, instead predicting that global warming should cause a trend toward more El Niño-like conditions.
Florida’s most litigious state is Florida, and it’s changing: Hurricane Ian Brandes’s insurance policy lawsuits have gone up
If rates continue to rise by 30% or more, as they have done for many Floridians in recent years, some Florida homeowners may end up paying more for insurance than they do for their mortgage, said Brandes, the state legislator.
A handful of different factors unique to Florida have combined to create such a litigious environment, experts say, including unique rules around attorneys’ fees and lax regulation of “assignment of benefits” agreements for policyholders.
The insurance carriers are declaring insolvency this year. Others stopped writing policies. The number of Citizens Property Insurance customers has increased due to this.
“I don’t think you should expect lower property insurance rates when you’re the most litigious state, and also the most hurricanes-prone state,” said state senator Jeff Brandes, who represents part of Pinellas County, which avoided the worst of Ian.
The lawsuits often originate like this: A contractor contacts a homeowner about potential damage, perhaps to their roof. The homeowner signs what’s called an assignment of benefits agreement, which allows the contractor to handle the insurance claim. The insurer can deny the claim or dispute the amount, and there is the chance that the contractor will file a suit against them without the person’s knowledge.
Attorneys’ fees can be much higher than what the claim is worth. In 2019, the III estimated that excess litigation had collectively cost Floridians policyholders $1.6 billion. Over the past two years, the number of lawsuits has gone up.
State-backed reinsurance and property insurance: Is Florida’s population growing faster than its largest? The problem of hurricane-ian Florida
There are factors, one of which is Florida’s population growth. No state in the eastern U.S. is growing as rapidly as Florida. And its fastest-growing metro areas include Orlando, Tampa and Cape Coral-Fort Myers – all areas affected by Ian.
Smaller companies aren’t able to build the same kinds of capital reserves as large ones. As a result, they often rely on their own form of insurance – known as reinsurance – to pay out claims during major costly events.
Because Citizens is state-backed, it is limited in its ability to increase rates and is often significantly cheaper than competitors. Private insurers say that makes it difficult to compete, especially in storm-prone ZIP codes where only a handful of insurers offer policies.
It’s too early to estimate the costs of the claims. The storm surge losses are estimated by a firm to be between $29 and $47 billion. Another estimate of the total loss to private insurers put the total as high as approximately $63 billion.
The insurance industry consultant said it’s possible the state could see a million total claims. (Most Florida homes affected by Ian did not have flood insurance, and there are likely to be legal disputes over whether damage was caused by wind or flood.)
The state legislature held a special session in May in which legislators passed a bill addressing some of the issues with roofs and attorneys’ fees. Democrats complained that the bill didn’t provide enough relief to homeowners.
“The May session treated the flu when the property insurance market had Stage 4 cancer,” said Brandes, a Republican, who hoped another session could be convened before January.
Plan to Save Invest 98L and Other Things That Aren’t on the Table for Future Developments: The Stable Case of Subtropical Storm Nicole
“This is the perfect opportunity to make some really tough decisions,” he said. The market needs to be saved, but some things have been on the table that have not been put on the table yet.
“Regardless of development, heavy rainfall, coastal flooding, gale force winds and rip tides will impact eastern Florida and the southeast US,” Shackelford explained.
The National Hurricane Center said that Subtropical Storm Nicole formed in the southwest Atlantic about 600 miles east of the northwestern Bahamas. The storm, now packing winds of 45 mph with higher gusts, is expected to begin impacting Florida by Tuesday evening.
Already, the US territories of Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands are under a flash flood watch through Monday afternoon, and tropical storm watches are in effect for northwest Bahamas.
The system could make it way to Florida or the Southeast US early this week according to Robert Shackelford.
In order to be prepared, all Floridians are urged to make a plan in the event of a storm. We will keep an eye on the path of Invest 98L. We remain in contact with all state and local government partners.
The Florida Peninsula can expect a lot of wind on Election Day. There is a chance of rain in central and eastern cities such as Miami and Daytona Beach throughout the day.
The Florida Hurricane Center: Coordinating State Emergency Management with the Florida Department of Natural Resources and the State of the Recovery after a Category 1 Hurricane
As the state continues to recover, officials are coordinating with emergency management officials in each of the 67 counties.
The state is going to identify potential resource gaps and implement plan that will allow the state to respond quickly and efficiently ahead of the storm system.
And although the exact forecast for the upcoming storm is still unclear, forecasters said confidence has increased that the storm system could develop into a tropical or subtropical depression within the next two days.
Additionally, more than 5 million people are under storm surge warnings from North Palm Beach northward to Altamaha Sound, including the mouth of the St. Johns River to Georgetown, Shackelford added.
Impactful in the sense it’s projected to be a strong tropical storm or a Category 1 hurricane by the time it reaches Florida by Wednesday evening into Thursday morning, Rhome said.
The warning comes as a hurricane watch is currently in effect along the east coast of Florida, from the Volusia/Brevard county line to Hallandale Beach, according to the hurricane center.
“Residents and visitors should monitor the forecast and make sure their storm kit is up-to-date,” Levine Cava said in a social media post. “We’re taking all needed precautions to prepare for potential flooding and power outages.”
The director of the Hurricane Center appeared on CNN on the day before the storm hit and was asked about how climate change might be affecting the intensification of the storm. He said that we could talk about climate change later on. I would like to focus on the here and now.
It is possible that the official updates on the conditions will mention how global warming contributes to longer, more severe droughts. Or heat wave warnings from the National Weather Service could include information about the strong, well-established connection between a hotter Earth and dangerously hot days.
That’s why the time during and immediately after a weather disaster is so important. People who experience a severe heat wave or hurricane, and who understand that it is connected to climate change, are more likely to take action to protect themselves from future disasters, and to support climate policies, according to research by Gabrielle Wong-Parodi of Stanford University.
But when a disaster is unfolding, the official weather forecasts from the federal government don’t include information about how climate change is making the disaster more severe or more likely, even when the connection is well-established by previous studies. Most people get their forecast on their phones or TV broadcasts from the government.
Sarah Kapnick said climate context is easy to include in real-time weather warnings. Kapnick has done research on extreme event attributions and background as a research scientist.
NOAA is currently reviewing how it communicates with the public about climate change, she says, in part because of a flood of interest from the public and from local officials who are grappling with more severe weather.
Pressed by CNN’s Don Lemon, Rhome responded, “I don’t think you can link climate change to any one event. On the whole, on the cumulative, climate change may be making storms worse. I don’t want to link it to one event.
Indeed, a preliminary analysis by Wehner and other climate scientists in the days after Ian made landfall estimated that climate change caused the storm to drop at least 10% more rain than it would have without global warming.
Climate Change and the Last Days of Climate Change: What Happens When the U.S. Rejoins After a Hurricane Season?
That includes more support for electric vehicles and policies to cut greenhouse gas emissions, as well as an interest in doing things like flood-proofing your home.
After a disaster, it’s unclear how long those attitudes will last. An active area of research is figuring that out. “There is a window of time that you can use to teach people about the risks and ways to deal with climate change,” Wong-Parodi says.
Wong-Parodi believes that it’s important that we keep an eye on how we communicate with the public about these types of events.
In early September, a lot of people who live in hurricane-prone parts of the United States started noticing that it had been an eerily quiet summer. On average, there are 14 storms each year in the Atlantic between June 1 and December 1.
Jamie R home is the acting director of the National Hurricane Center and he said it was scary to be in the quietest part of the season. “I felt like people were letting their guard down.”
The impact of hurricanes on the South Carolina coastline and the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic: The CNN Coastal Storm Watch Report from First Street
The other major source of flooding was from storm surge – the wall of ocean water that storms push onto land, like an extremely high tide. The more powerful the storm is, the more water it pushes inland. “A rising sea level makes the storm surge worse,” says Rhome.
In new places, such as the Northeast and the Mid- Atlantic, homeowners’ financial loss from hurricanes is likely to increase significantly, according to the report.
The area around the Georgia-South Carolina border has largely been spared from the worst hurricane landfalls because of the way the coastline bends inward. Most major hurricanes that strengthen in the Gulf of Mexico or warm waters of the Caribbean will hit another coast first – usually Florida.
First Street is known for analyzing flood risk that comes from more rainfall, rising seas and higher storm surge, but Eby said the group also wanted to capture how many properties were at risk to increased wind damage from stronger storms fueled by climate change – and where in the US they were.
“The odds of it being a major hurricane when it makes landfall are almost 50-50 now,” Eby told CNN. Even after initial landfall, hurricanes can dump a lot of rain and bring high wind speeds to places that aren’t prepared for them.
Charleston was hit hard by Hurricane Matthew in 2016; though the storm was just a category 1, its storm surge was significant for the South Carolina coast, pushing water levels 3 to 5 feet above normal. But it hasn’t had a truly devastating storm since Hurricane Hugo slammed into the city in 1989 as a category 4 with 140-mph winds and became the costliest disaster on record at the time.
Hurricane models from prominent meteorologist and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Kerry Emanuel, which First Street used in its report, also show current and future hurricanes having a “tendency to form a little bit north in the Atlantic,” Emanuel told CNN.
The problem is that more northward storms could slam into areas that aren’t yet ready for hurricanes.
The increase in hurricane wind speeds will be a bit more modest in Florida than in the Mid-Atlantic states and New England. “In Miami, 100 mph wind is serious but not devastating because they’re used to it.”
The Insurance Industry is Waken Up by the Recent Dynamic State of the Climate and the Historical History of the Insurance Industry and the Data it Used to Price Properties and Premiums
Emanuel told CNN that the models that are being used by the existing modeling industry are based on historical statistics. The historical record does not last very long, and is no good when you go back to before 1970.
Emanuel said that the insurance companies have been woken up recently by this. The estimates of risk used to price properties and premiums are 50 years out of date and the climate has changed enough to make their data useless.
Eby said that they are hopeful that their data can illuminate the risk for them to make the right decisions. “Now they’re armed with that data, they can make those smart decisions. That’s really the hope.”