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After suffering record-breaking heavy rains,the Central Michigan city of Midland experienced a catastrophic 2-dam collapse along the Tittabawassee River yesterday evening. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency and expressed that “In the next 12 to 15 hours, downtown Midland could be under approximately nine feet of water.” Whitmer also urged people to swiftly evacuate the affected areas as forecasters are predicting a 38′ crest, 4′ higher than the 500-year flood in 1986.
Why This Matters: Michigan has been hit especially hard by the coronavirus in recent months and the dam collapse has been every governor’s worst nightmare: how to handle a natural disaster in the midst of a pandemic. This is an ongoing situation, but one additional threat to watch is that of how the flooding will affect the Dow Chemical facility also located in Midland.
A Perfect Storm:Why were rains so bad?MLive explained that the heaviest rain was produced by a condition that usually causes Michigan’s biggest rains – tropical moisture.
Tropical Storm Arthur was churning off the Mid-Atlantic coast. A conveyor belt of moisture traveled from the East Coast westward into Michigan.
The storm system already in place over Michigan was able to tap into that tropical moisture and really increase rainfall totals.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA) is forecasting a likely range of 13 to 19 named storms, of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes and 3 to 6 become major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher. The forecast is due to cooler ocean conditions in the Pacific and warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
Why This Matters: It could be a disastrous summer. The new climate normal on top of the COVID-19 pandemic will make things challenging everywhere.
An important new study out this week from researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Wisconsin at Madison reveals that hurricanes are getting stronger, just as climate models have predicted. As the New York Times explained, the analysis, of satellite images dating to 1979, shows that warming has increased the […]
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