Following the fireworks of July 4th the Southeast prepares to look at the sky some more, but for Elsa, the hurricane and tropical storm. Elsa may pre-sage things to come and prepare for.

National Hurricane Center – Elsa possible track as of July 4

Elsa set records already. “Climatologically, Elsa’s development is a step into the unknown on several fronts. For the first time in forever, the fifth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season formed on or before July 1st, breaking a record set last year by Tropical Storm Edouard on July 6th.” (Source)

More records could be shattered. “Due to global warming these storms are not only getting stronger, but we are experiencing the strongest of the pack more frequently.” There’s another angle on this, too: “We can thank climate change for another hurricane downer: Global warming is leading to so-called zombie storms, or those that peter out and then get refueled to sort of rise from the dead.” (Source)

What might this mean for the Southeast? Some of the old beliefs about tropical storms and hurricanes may not hold anymore. Storms in the future can surprise us. Be prepared in your home. Here’s the FEMA website about storm preparedness. (Image right)

One way utilities prepare is by hardening the grid system – making it tougher for a storm to knock out power. Florida Power and Light, for instance has replaced many wood poles with concrete poles.

Some utilities use new sensors and switchers to identify and mitigate problems on power lines. Duke Energy estimates this helped it avoid more than 80,000 extended outages during Hurricane Florence in September. (Source)

A Barron’s magazine op-ed noted the importance of “self-healing” systems. The story: America’s Electrical Grids Are Under Threat. For Fixes, Look to Florida. Good story. Utilities do a lot of planning and hard work to make the grid more resilient.

Something else, too, that will make an impression. While we think about “tropical storms,” the website Hurricane City lists how often different places are prone to hurricanes. Check this – 3 of the first five places are in North Carolina.

  1. Cape Hatteras, North Carolina – every 1.32 years  Impacted by Tropical storms Arthur & Isaias in 2020, remains at top of the list has probably more brushes than any other area in the top 50 with many recurvatures just offshore. There are also numerous back door systems from the Gulf of Mexico that have cut through Hatteras on the way out to sea some as extratropical. (affected a whopping 113 times since 1871)
  2. Morehead City, North Carolina – every 1.50 years. Brushed by Hurricane Isaias in 2020 and remains at #2, located just S.W. of Cape Hatteras affected by many of the same systems. Alone in the 1.50 group with 25 hurricane hits but overall 14 less storms than Cape Hatteras. (affected 99 times since 1871)
  3. Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas – every 1.60 years.
  4. Wilmington, North Carolina –  every 1.67 years. Hit by Hurricane Isaias in 2020 but remains alone in 1.67 group at #4 position. Located in the Southeast, North Carolina gets a lot of back door systems and recurvatures just east (affected 89 times).
  5. Cayman Islands – every 1.71 years.

(Myrtle Beach is #11)


Feature image from NASA – Elsa from Space on July 4