How Historic Flooding in the Midwest Could Fuel the Gulf of Mexico ‘Dead Zone’

The byzantine networks of rivers and streams that drain the Midwest is facing a flooding crisis of historic proportions. The multibillion disaster centered in Nebraska will spread this spring, with above average rainfall expected to cause floods to impact some 200 million Americans living near rivers. And it won’t necessarily end once it reaches the Gulf of Mexico.

This spring’s floods will shape this summer’s dead zone. The area of low oxygen is an annual occurrence driven in large part by nutrient-laden runoff that washes down the Mississippi River and its many tributaries, fueling algae blooms when it reaches the Gulf. The dead zone in 2017 was the largest that’s ever been recorded at nearly 9,000 square miles, and while it’s much too early to say exactly how big this summer’s dead zone will be, the flooding we’ve seen so far doesn’t bode well. Another enormous dead zone would put pressure on Gulf marine life and fisheries

“The flooding we see this month, in March, may ultimately determine the size of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone in August,” Kimberly Van Meter, a researcher who studies water and ecosystems at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told Earther.

And this year’s floods are already shaping up to record setting. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the upper Mississippi and Red River of the North basins have doubled their normal spring rainfall totals. That includes areas that were smacked by a rare bomb cyclone earlier this month that dumped rain on snow and set the flooding overtaking the region in motion. NOAA forecasts indicate areas all along the Mississippi River basin could face major flooding through May as snow continues to melt amid a forecast for heavier than normal rainfall over the next few months.

As the floodwater wash over farmer’s fields, they’ll do more than strip soil. They can also scoop up fertilizer and other organic matter and transport it downriver. The nutrient-rich water will reach the Gulf of Mexico sometime in June, which will kickstart the dead zone.

“In the simplest terms, the more nitrate that is transported downstream to the Gulf, the larger the size of the dead zone,” Van Meter said. “Nitrate is food for algae, and spring floods essentially deliver a large, delicious meal to the Gulf just as temperatures start to rise and the algae start to grow. Decades of fertilizer application and intensive livestock production across the Mississippi River Basin have created large stores of nitrate in the landscape, just waiting for the next flood to carry them to the Gulf.”

As that algae bloom grows, it hoovers up all the oxygen that marine life needs to survive. The process is known as hypoxia, and chokes marine life to death. But they also take a toll on humans as well. Separate algae blooms in Lake Erie have befouled drinking water. Those along Florida’s coasts have harmed the tourism industry. The Gulf of Mexico dead zone creates its own hardships.

“We’ve got data that it’s essentially a doughnut hole that forms with brown shrimp where they are avoiding areas that are low oxygen and they’re congregating on the edge,” David Kidwell, a researcher at NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, told Earther.

Recent NOAA-funded research has shown that the dead zone can cause small and large shrimp prices to fluctuate, with fishermen catching fewer high-value large shrimp when a dead zone is present. Climate change is liable to make blooms worse by intensifying the hydrological cycle and warming waters. Whether the historic flooding that just hit the Midwest leads to a historic dead zone is not set in stone, though.

Kidwell said that the annual dead zone forecast NOAA and the U.S. Geological Service puts out in early summer is based in large part on “discharge of the Mississippi River as well as the pure nutrient levels in the river at that time,” but other factors could dull their impact. A hurricane—which would offer its own set of problems—could churn up the Gulf and staunch the algae bloom.

Regardless of what happens this season, it’s clear that something has to change in how we manage land and floodwaters. Nancy Rabalais, a marine ecologist at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, told Earther that it “does not make sense is to rebuild in floodplains” if the end goal is to limit the Gulf dead zone (to say nothing of exposing communities upstream to floodwaters). Reducing the amount of farmland in the floodplain so would ultimately cut down on fertilizer and animal waste being swept into streams and eventually the Gulf. Rabalais said, though, that she knew “what this means economically to the agriculture community” if floodplains were put off limits.

Story provided by EARTHER

Tennessee Flooding

Flooding in parts of Tennessee has left one person dead and sparked a state of emergency this weekend.

One person died in Knoxville after driving his car into water on a flooded road early Sunday morning, according to Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

Knox County was under flash flood warning on Saturday afternoon and residents were warned that “this is a particularly dangerous situation. Seek higher ground now,” according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Nashville broke a rainfall record on Saturday making this the city’s wettest February in over 100 years.

Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) declared a state of emergency Saturday due to rising flood waters and “the potential for more severe weather,” according to the declaration.

In Chattanooga, a Subway restaurant was flattened by a mudslide caused by rain from the same storm system, according to the Signal Mountain Police Department.

Several areas of the city of Dunlap were flooding to dangerous levels, and firefighters were working to evacuate all of the residents that might be in danger from the rising water. Dunlap Fire Department posted video that showed Brush Creek transformed into a rushing river.

The flooding even impacted one of Tennessee’s most famous exports: Jack Daniel’s whiskey.

The grounds of the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg flooded on Saturday. Henry Feldhaus IV, who works at the distillery, assured CNN that all employees — and the whiskey — are safe.

As of Sunday at 11 a.m., there were nearly 300 river gauges above flood stage across the Southeast, CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar said.

And river flooding is likely to get worse before it gets better. Although rain is not expected to return to the area until midweek, it takes time for the rivers, creeks and streams to get rid of all that water, she explained.

The water leaving the roadways, yards, and urban areas eventually drains into rivers, creeks and streams, so many of them will not crest until later in the week, Chinchar said.

 

Information provided by CNN

What Does the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season Have In Store?

The slightly above-average 2018 Atlantic hurricane season officially ended on November 30, but initial outlooks have already been issued for the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season. The season officially starts on June 1. The Tropical Meteorology Project (TMP) at Colorado State University will release its first full forecast on Thursday, April 4. They recently produced a preliminary discussion where they evaluated the likelihood of several hurricane activity scenarios. The TMP is currently giving an approximately 35% chance of an above-normal hurricane season, a 50% chance of a near-normal hurricane season and a 15% chance of a below-normal hurricane season for the Atlantic basin in 2019. For reference the average Atlantic hurricane season has about 12 named storms (maximum winds >= 39 mph), 6 hurricanes (maximum winds >= 74 mph) and 3 major hurricanes (maximum winds >= 111 mph).

2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season Preliminary Outlook

Above Average 35%

Near Normal 50%

Below Normal 15%

This forecast was based on the premise that North Atlantic sea surface temperatures are currently slightly below-normal across the far North Atlantic and the tropical Atlantic (Figure 1). In general, the tropical Atlantic has been slightly cooler than normal over the past several months, providing a slight inhibiting factor for Atlantic hurricane formation. Warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures provide more fuel for developing Atlantic storms.

The development of El Niño (warmer than normal water temperatures in the eastern and central tropical Pacific) is likely during the next couple of months, but there is considerably uncertainty as to whether the El Niño would persist through next year’s hurricane season. El Niño typically produces stronger vertical wind shear (the change wind direction with height in the atmosphere) in the Atlantic basin, tearing apart hurricanes as they are trying to develop.

The U.K.-based Tropical Storm Risk produced their first forecast for the 2019 season on Tuesday, December 11. Their initial forecast calls for a total of 12 named storms, 5 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes, or a slightly below-normal season. Their outlook was based on the premise that tropical Atlantic low-level winds are predicted to be slightly greater than the long-term average, because of a weak El Niño event and slightly cooler than normal tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures.

2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season Preliminary Outlook

12 Named Storms

5 Hurricanes

2 Major Hurricanes

Seasonal hurricane outlooks issued in December historically have low levels of skill, since there is a lot that can change in the atmosphere-ocean system between December and the start of the hurricane season in June. Consequently, it is advisable to treat these initial forecasts with caution. Historically, the skill of these outlooks increases as the Atlantic hurricane season approaches. It is also important to note that regardless of the levels of overall hurricane activity experienced in any season, it takes only one significant landfalling hurricane to make it an active season. During the offseason is a great time to make sure that you have reviewed your disaster recovery plan.

 

Happy Holidays!

In observance of the Holiday and New Year’s, our office will be closed for business on Monday, December 24th through Tuesday, January 1st, 2019.  We will back to Normal Business on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019.

We wish everyone a Safe, Healthy and Happy Holiday Season!

As always, we appreciate your business and look forward to another successful year together.

 

7 Things to Know About Storm Surges

When you think of the danger a hurricane poses to the unlucky people caught in its path, your first thought is probably the ferocious winds that crash ashore and tear up just about everything exposed to the elements. While the winds are destructive and the flying debris is a serious hazard to anyone caught in the way, the greatest and quietest killer in a tropical cyclone is its storm surge.

  1. A SURGE IS A SUDDEN INUNDATION OF SEA WATER.

The strong winds of a landfalling tropical cyclone thrust it inland. The flooding that results from storm surges is only a few feet deep most of the time, but the worst surges—like those seen in Hurricane Katrina—can exceed 20 feet or higher. A storm surge comes up quickly and can push water miles inland in the most vulnerable spots during the strongest storms.

  1. THEY’RE NOT CAUSED BY HURRICANES ALONE.

Hurricanes are most closely associated with storm surges, but they’re not the only storms that can push water inland. Tropical depressions and tropical storms can also inundate coastlines if their winds are strong enough. Powerful winter storms can also generate a life-threatening storm surge. A blizzard that hit the East Coast in January 2016 produced a storm surge in Cape May, New Jersey, that was slightly higher than the one recorded there during Hurricane Sandy a few years earlier.

  1. TRACK AND TIMING MATTER …

We tell people not to focus on the exact track of a tropical cyclone since the impacts can extend hundreds of miles from the center of the storm. But when it comes to a storm surge, track really does matter. The worst winds in a storm occur in the right-front quadrant of its eyewall, or the part of the storm that’s in front of the eye and to the right of its forward movement. This spot sees the strongest winds influenced by the forward motion of the storm, and it’s where the wind is able to push the most water with it.

Timing also determines how much flooding people at the coast will experience. Coastal flooding will be worse if a storm hits land at high tide since water will be a few feet higher. That couple of feet at high tide doesn’t seem like much, but it can mean the difference between a few roads washed out and a few neighborhoods inundated by water.

  1. … BUT WIND MATTERS MORE.

The fury behind the surge is wind. The National Hurricane Center says that 95 percent of storm surge is driven by the wind—the other 5 percent is water that rises above sea level due to low air pressure at the center of the storm. A general (and obvious) rule of thumb is that a stronger storm will produce a more destructive storm surge, but surge also depends on other factors like a storm’s forward speed and the size of its wind field.

  1. WIND IS WHY SANDY WAS SO DEVASTATING.

Even though Hurricane Sandy only had 80 mph winds when it made landfall in New Jersey on October 29, 2012, it was one of the most destructive storms to hit the United States in recorded history. The devastating storm surge that Sandy drove into coastal communities was the result of the immense size of the storm’s wind field.

When Sandy made landfall, the area covered by its tropical storm force winds (39–74 mph) covered more than 1100 miles from South Carolina to Maine. The enormous area covered by these strong winds made up for the storm’s relative lack of concentrated intensity, allowing it to push tremendous amounts of water into the coast.

Hurricane Katrina’s historic storm surge along the northern Gulf Coast in August 2005 was also driven by the sheer size of the storm. Katrina was a massive hurricane with scale-topping category 5 winds to boot. Katrina weakened by the time it reached the coast, but the size of the storm and its former strength still pushed enormous amounts of water into Louisiana and Mississippi.

  1. CURVY COASTS MAKE A BAD SITUATION WORSE.

As if getting hit with a bad storm weren’t bad enough, the very shape of the coastline itself will determine how much of an impact a storm surge will have on coastal communities. Shallow waters offshore and concave bays and inlets will exacerbate a storm surge and make the inundation deeper than it would have been otherwise.

  1. LINGERING STORMS DO MORE DAMAGE.

After it made landfall in Florida and moved into the Atlantic Ocean, meteorologists were worried about tropical storm Hermine’s impacts along the Mid-Atlantic and New England coastlines because of how long they expected the storm to linger near land. Forecasts called for Hermine to meander off the coast of New Jersey at or near hurricane strength for four full days before beginning to dissipate. Thankfully, the worst-case scenarios didn’t come to pass, but the threat was real.

Even though Hermine wasn’t forecast to make landfall, the exceptionally long duration of the storm—powerful winds blowing inland for days at a time—threatened to generate a large storm surge along the coast. A slow-moving storm will cause more damage than one that moves through in a matter of hours.

 

 

We have Moved!

July has been an exciting month for SAK Enterprises as we have moved to our new facility. Our new offices and production facility is located at 3155 Lakewood Ranch Blvd. Bradenton, FL 34211, only 10 miles from our previous location.

Construction of our new facility was completed at the end of the 2nd quarter 2018. The structure itself was built with the latest construction technologies and building codes ensuring our new facility can withstand a major weather event, should one ever come our way.

We are very enthusiastic about our growth, and at the same time grateful for you the customer and your business. It has always been, and it will continue to be your business and support that is the major contribution to our growth and our future.

The SAK Enterprises Team is certain that the investment in our move to our new facility will allow us to streamline every aspect of our company, from our customer relations, to Product Design, production process and everything else in between.

We look forward to our future and working with you.

Thank you,

Your Entire SAK Enterprises Team

 

40 Hurricane Facts

Hurricane Facts

A Hurricane is a natural disaster with far reaching consequences. It takes away the lives of millions of people and causes damage to almost all of human creation. It can cause extensive damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland due to heavy rainfall. Floods and flying debris often plays havoc in the lives of people living along coastal areas. Slow moving hurricanes produce heavy rains in mountainous regions. Landfall and mud-slides can occur due to excessive rain. Chances of flash floods also brighten due to heavy rainfall. Below are some interesting facts about hurricanes.

What is a Hurricane?

A hurricane is a form of tropical cyclone or severe tropical storm that occur in eastern Pacific Ocean, Caribbean Sea, southern Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. All coastal areas around Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic are prone to hurricanes. Tropical cyclones have low thunderstorm activity and rotate counterclockwise. When the winds of a tropical cyclone is less than 38 mph, it is called a tropical depression. When the winds reach between 39-73 mph, it is classified as a tropical storm. However, when the winds exceed 74 mph, it is classified as hurricane.

Below are 40 Facts on Hurricanes

Fact 1: The term hurricane is derived from ‘Taino’, a Native American word which means evil spirit of the wind.

Fact 2: The first hurricane that caused people to fly in it, occurred in 1943 during world war II.

Fact 3: A tropical storm is a hurricane which travels for 74 miles per hour, or higher than that.

Fact 4: Hurricanes are weather disasters, each of them having its own name.

Fact 5: Hurricanes are first formed in warm moisture atmosphere by swirling above tropical ocean water.

Fact 6: The eye wall experiences the most terrible hurricanes with extremely heavy rains. This place is the ring of clouds and thunderstorms occur around the eye.

Fact 7: A huge hurricane can release energy equivalent to 10 atomic bombs per second.

Fact 8: Hurricanes also produce mild tornadoes, which can last up to few minutes.

Fact 9: Hurricanes that move slowly are likely to produce more rains causing more damage by flooding, than fast moving hurricanes.

Fact 10: Hurricane Floyd has destroyed 19 million trees and has caused damage of more than a million dollars.

Fact 11: Many people die in hurricanes because of the rising sea water walls that enter the mainland instantly killing people.

Fact 12: Hurricanes in the Pacific Ocean are known as typhoons.

Fact 13: In Indian Ocean they are typically known tropical cyclones.

Fact 14: The first person to give names to hurricanes was a weather forecaster from Australia named C. Wragge in 1900s.

Fact 15: The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale defines hurricane strength by categories. A Category 1 storm is the weakest hurricane with winds having speed between 74-95 mph; a Category 5 hurricane is the strongest with winds greater than 155 mph.

Fact 16: Hurricanes mostly occur from June to November when seas are the warmest, forming a conducive weather for the hurricanes to build up.

Fact 17: Planet Jupiter has a hurricane which appears as a red dot in it, spinning for 300 years. This hurricane is bigger than the earth itself.

Fact 18: Hurricanes are large enough to carry winds that travel for 160 miles per hour.

Fact 19: Hurricanes can have a diameter of 600-800 kilometers.

Fact 20: The center of the hurricane, which is the eye, can be as huge as 32 kilometers. The weather in this center (the eye) is usually calm with low winds.

Fact 21: 90% of the deaths that occur during hurricanes is because of the floods created by this disaster.

Fact 22: A hurricane that occurred in Bangladesh in 1970, took away the live of one million people. This hurricane is supposedly the worst tornado, in terms of loss of life.

Fact 23: The winds in the hurricane can cause above 2 million’s trillion gallons of rains per day.

Fact 24: In the Atlantic Ocean, hurricanes begin from 1st June, and in the pacific they start in mid may. Both end together towards the end of November.

Fact 25: Hurricanes, upon entering land bring in strong winds, heavy rains and waves which are strong enough to cause damages like washing away the entire city scape. These are known as storm surge.

Fact 26: Florida is hit by at least 40% of the hurricanes that occur in America.

Fact 27: Hurricanes are differentiated from tropical storms by their wind speeds. Tropical storms carry winds which travel 35-50 miles per hour. Hurricanes wind speeds are double and travel for at least 74 miles per hour.

Fact 28: Hurricanes are categorized into 5 types, depending upon their wind speed and their capacity to cause damage. The wind speed of the 5 categories are as follows.

Category 1-     74 to 95 miles per hour

Category 2-     96-110 miles per hour

Category 3-     111-130 miles per hour

Category 4-      131-155 miles per hour

Category 5-      Most dangerous. Above 155 miles per hour.

Fact 29: The National Hurricane Center was the first organization to give ‘female’ names to the hurricanes in 1953.  However, they stopped this practice in 1978.

Fact 30: Huge and destructive hurricanes have retired names like Katrina, Mitch and Andrew

Fact 31: Hurricane Katrina is one of the costliest category 5 type hurricane which has caused damage over $100 billion.

Fact 32: The deadliest hurricane is the category 4 hurricane that occurred in Texas and Galveston in the year 1990. 8000 people were found dead by the 15 foot waves which carried winds travelling for 130 miles per hour.

Fact 33: It is believed that hurricanes have killed approximately 1.9 million people over the past 200 years.

Fact 34: Most of the category 5 hurricanes occurred in years 2000-2009, with eight. These include Isabelle (2003), Ivan (2004), Emily (2005), Katrina (2005), Rita (2005), Wilma (2005), Dean (2007), and Felix (2007).

Fact 35: Stronger hurricanes can reach 40,000 to 50,000 feet up into the sky.

Fact 36: Hurricanes need Coriolis Force to form which is very weak at Equator and this is the reason that they cannot form near Equator.

Fact 37: The Southern Hemisphere typically experiences about half the number of hurricanes as the Northern Hemisphere each year.

Fact 38: The year 2005 saw the most hurricanes ever to form in a single Atlantic season, with 15.

Fact 39: A typical hurricane needs (a) light upper level winds, (b) warm water (at-least 80º F) and (c) pre-existing conditions with thunderstorms to form.

Fact 40: Hurricanes kill more people than any other type of storm.

Hurricanes are natural disasters and unfortunately cannot be controlled by man. However, we can prepare ourselves for future precautions to safeguard ourselves against such calamities, although this is remotely possible.

 

 

Subtropical Storm Alberto

With a week before the start of hurricane season, trouble is coming to the Gulf of Mexico!

This system will likely bring heavy rain to Cuba, Florida and the Northeastern Gulf Coast, according to the National Hurricane Center.

4:00 PM CDT Fri May 25
Location: 19.4°N 86.3°W
Moving: E at 2 mph
Min pressure: 1005 mb
Max sustained: 40 mph

Hurricane season officially starts June 1.