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Residents watch the floodwaters rise on Mississippi’s Pearl River. Image: Barbara Gauntt/Clarion Ledger
For parts of the Southern United States, this past winter has been one of the wettest on record and more rain is expected this week. Non-stop rains on top of already-saturated ground have brought devastating flooding that has forced people in Mississippi to flee their homes. So much so in fact that Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency last Saturday.
As USA Today reported, in Jackson, Mississippi, “hundreds of residents either watched their homes flood over the weekend or worried their residence would soon be drenched as the Pearl River crested Monday at 36.8 feet, its third-highest level ever recorded – behind only 1979 and 1983.”
What’s Happening: Mississippi’s Pearl River crested at the highest level it’s been in decades and as CNN reported, isn’t expected to drop below major flood stage until sometime Wednesday. Families (especially those with small children) piled into kayaks as they tried to figure out where to go to escape the floodwaters.
Hinds County Emergency Management Director Ricky Moore warned that “There’s a lot of contamination, a lot of sewage. It’s not safe. There’s a lot of swift water, a lot of unknowns. We don’t need a tragedy out of this.”
While Governor Tate said that he doesn’t “anticipate the situation to end any time soon. It will be days before we are out of the woods and the water starts to recede.”
Why This Matters: Just last year, catastrophic and lingering flooding in the Midwest cost hundreds of millions of dollars in lost crops. However now, as the Weather Channel warned, there are troubling signs spring 2020 could bring a repeat of widespread flooding in the nation’s midsection somewhat reminiscent of last year’s massive event.
Meanwhile, across the pond in Britain, a storm named Dennis (classified as a “weather bomb” by the national weather service, the Meteorological Office) unleashed wind gusts of 91 miles per hour, becoming one of the most intense winter storms to grip the North Atlantic. As the New York Times reported, “The impact on the ground brought chaos to parts of England, Wales and Scotland, with more than half a month’s worth of rain falling in one day.”
While these particular events can’t be attributed to climate change, a warming planet has shifted rainfall patterns, making heavy rain more frequent in many parts of the world. As the UCS explained, with human alteration of the land—like the engineering of rivers, the destruction of natural protective systems, and increased construction on floodplains—many parts of the United States (as well as in other nation-states) are at greater risk of experiencing destructive and costly floods.
by Amy Lupica, ODP Contributing Writer As the 2020 hurricane season draws to a close, scientists are reflecting on the devastating records set by this year’s storms. 2020 had the most named storms ever recorded, ten of which were classified as “rapidly intensifying,” a record which occurred only in two other years, 1995 and 2010. […]
The 2019-2020 Australian bushfire season burnt more than 18 million hectares across the country, destroyed more than 2,000 homes, and claimed the lives of 34 people and about one billion animals. The devastation was gutwrenching and a wake-up call to the entire world that climate change is our greatest existential threat. Yet as fire crews […]
by Ashira Morris, ODP Contributing Writer Hurricane Iota, the 30th named storm this year, made landfall in Nicaragua Monday night as a Category 4 storm. As it continues to move across Central America, it could still bring “life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds, flash flooding and landslides,” according to the National Hurricane Center. Iota was the […]
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