11.9 C
Tuesday, June 6, 2023
HomeScienceThe United States leads the world in weather disasters. Here's why

The United States leads the world in weather disasters. Here’s why


People walk through tornado damage late at night in Sullivan, Indiana, April 1, 2023. Credit: AP Photo/Doug McSchooler, File

The United States is Earth’s punching bag for bad weather.

Many experts have said that geography blames the United States for being affected by severe weather that is stronger, more expensive, more varied, and more frequent than anywhere on the planet. Two oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, the Rocky Mountains, a peninsula as prominent as Florida, and clashing storm fronts and the jet stream combine to naturally create the worst weather.

That’s just part of it. Many experts told the Associated Press that nature has treated us badly, but people have made it much worse because of what, where and how we build.

Then add Climate change“Buckle your seat belts. More extreme events are expected,” said Rick Spinrad, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Tornado. Tornadoes. torrents. Drought. Forest fires. blizzards Ice storms. Nor the Orientals. Snow in the form of a lake. heat waves. Severe thunderstorms. praises. Lightning. atmospheric rivers. derecus. Sand Storms. monsoon. Hurricane bombardment. And the dreaded polar vortex.

North Carolina climatologist Cathy Delo said it all starts with “where we are on the globe.” “It really is a bit… unlucky.”

The United States leads the world in weather disasters.  Here's why

Angeles Molina carries her belongings from her flooded home in Merced, California on January 10, 2023. Credit: AP Photo/Noah Berger, File

China may have more people, and more land area than the United States, but “they don’t have the same kind of clash of air masses as the United States that produces a lot of severe weather,” said Susan Cutter, director of the Vulnerabilities and Resilience Institute. at the University of South Carolina.

The United States is by far the king of hurricanes and other severe storms.

“It really starts with kind of two things. One is the Gulf of Mexico. And number two is the higher terrain to the west,” said Victor Gensini, a professor of meteorology at Northern Illinois University.

Behold the deadly weather on Friday, and watch out next week to see it in action: Dry air from the west rises over the Rocky Mountains and crashes into warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, and it all comes together along a storm-jet wave.

The United States leads the world in weather disasters.  Here's why

Mindy Alston walks her dogs as it snows, March 14, 2023, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Credit: Ben Garver/The Berkshire Eagle via AP, File

In the West, it is the drumming of atmospheric rivers. In the Atlantic, it’s not winter in the east, hurricanes are summer and sometimes a strange combination of the two, like Superstorm Sandy.

“It’s a fact that no matter where you are in the country, where you call home, you are likely to experience a high-impact weather event directly,” said Spinrad.

The deadly tornadoes in December 2021 that hit Kentucky demonstrated the uniqueness of the United States.

They hit areas with large immigrant populations. People who fled Central and South America, Bosnia and Africa were all victims. The big problem, said Joseph Trujillo Falcon, a member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is that tornadoes didn’t really happen in these people’s previous homes, so they didn’t know what to watch or what to do, or even know they should be. Worried about hurricanes. Sociologist who investigated the aftermath.

The United States leads the world in weather disasters.  Here's why

A bathtub ring shows where the watermark was on Lake Mead along the Nevada and Arizona border, March 6, 2023, near Boulder City, Nevada. Credit: AP Photo/John Locher, File

With colder air rising in the Arctic and warmer air in the tropics, the area in between — the mid-latitudes, which is where the United States is — gets the most interesting weather because of how the air operates at conflicting temperatures, between north and south, said the meteorologist professor. In northern Illinois and Walker Ashley, a temperature gradient is driving the jet stream.

Then add the mountain ranges that run from north to south, swaying in the winds that flow from west to east, and beneath them all the warm-toned Gulf of Mexico.

The Gulf pumps hot, moist air under the cooler, dry air raised by the mountains, Gensini said, “and that doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world.”

University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd, former president of the American Meteorological Society, said that if the United States as a whole is experiencing the worst, the South is experiencing the worst.

The United States leads the world in weather disasters.  Here's why

The bridge leading from Fort Myers to Pine Island, Florida, is severely damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, October 1, 2022. Credit: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File

“We drew the short straw (in the South) that we could literally experience every type of severe weather event,” Shepherd said. “Including blizzards. Including wildfires, hurricanes, floods, hurricanes. Every kind… Nowhere else in the United States can say that.”

Florida, North Carolina, and Louisiana also stand out in the water, Shepard and Delo said, so they are more likely to be hit by hurricanes.

The South has more manufactured homes that are exposed to all kinds of weather hazards, Ashley said, and storms are more likely to occur there at night. Night storms are deadly because people cannot see them and are less likely to hide, missing warnings in their sleep.

Severe weather caused by America’s unique geography creates hazards. It takes humans, Ashley and Jenseni said, to turn those risks into disasters.

The United States leads the world in weather disasters.  Here's why

A house sits in rising floodwaters after a dam break caused widespread flooding around Corcoran, Calif., on Tuesday, March 21, 2023. Credit: Carlos Avila Gonzalez/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, File

Just look where cities in America and the rest of the world appear: near flooded water, except perhaps Denver, said Cutter of South Carolina. More people are moving to areas, such as the south, where there are more risks.

“One of the ways you can make your communities more resilient is by not developing them in the most vulnerable way or in the most vulnerable part of society,” Cutter said. “To insist on building barrier islands and developing barrier islands, particularly on the East Coast and Gulf Coast, knowing that sands will move and hurricanes strike with some hesitation… seems like an enormous waste of money.”

Ashley said building standards tend to be minimal and less likely to survive storms.

“Our infrastructure is falling apart and nowhere near being climate resilient at all,” Shepherd said.

  • The United States leads the world in weather disasters.  Here's why

    People walk on a formerly sunken boat standing upright in the air with the stern buried in mud along the shore of Lake Mead in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Jan. 27, 2023, near Boulder City, Nevada. Credit: AP Photo/John Loescher, File

  • The United States leads the world in weather disasters.  Here's why

    Working inside a snow hole approximately 18 feet deep at the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab, from left, Sean Joseph, Claudia Norman, Helena Middleton take snow temperature measurements prior to a weather storm on March 9, 2023, in Soda Springs, Calif. Credit: Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group via AP, File

  • The United States leads the world in weather disasters.  Here's why

    A woman is carried from a fire station to an ambulance after a tornado rips through west Little Rock, Ark. March 31, 2023. Credit: Staci Vandagriff/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via AP, File

  • The United States leads the world in weather disasters.  Here's why

    Damage from a tornado is seen late at night in Sullivan, Indiana, Saturday, April 1, 2023. Credit: AP Photo/Doug McSchooler, File

Poverty makes it difficult to prepare for and recover from disasters, especially in the South, Shepard said. This vulnerability is a bigger problem elsewhere in the world.

“Safety can be bought,” Ashley said. “Those who are rich and have resources can buy safety and will be the most resilient when disaster strikes. … Unfortunately not all of us.”

“It’s heartbreaking to have to live through such devastating losses,” said Kim Cobb, professor of environment and society at Brown University. “We worsen our position by not understanding the landscape of vulnerability given the geographical hand with which it was dealt.”

© 2023 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

the quote: The United States leads the world in weather disasters. Here’s Why (2023, April 2) Retrieved April 2, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-04-world-weather-catastrophes.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for informational purposes only.

The author of what'snew2day.com is dedicated to keeping you up-to-date on the latest news and information.

Latest stories