- A major threat from Hurricane Florence is flooding associated with storm surge.
- A storm surge is when hurricanes or tropical storms push the water level above the high tide line, flooding coastal communities.
- In some areas of North Carolina, the surge is expected to reach 11 feet.
But the wind is not the main threat to people and property from the storm; it’s the storm surge and rainfall, which combined will likely cause serious flooding in the low-lying coastal regions of the Carolinas, Georgia, and Virginia.
The National Hurricane Center defines a storm surge as an abnormal rise of water over and above the predicted tide. In short, it’s when a large storm pushes water up over the high tide line. Here’s why that happens and why storm surges can be so dangerous.
How storm surges form
Hurricanes are large low-pressure systems that create a cyclonic wind effect. Those winds force ocean water to spin down into the water column. In deep water, this spinning motion has little effect. But when the storm approaches the coast, the rotating water mass has nowhere to go — except onto land.
Strong winds associated with the storm also create large waves that travel ahead of the storm.
Hurricanes and tropical storms also cause a “dome effect” that pulls water levels up under the low air pressure in the storm’s center, though the NHC notes that the effect of low pressure is slight when compared to wind.
The strongest surges occur when a storm’s winds are blowing directly toward the shore and the tide is high. In such cases, storm surges can force water levels to rise as rapidly as a few feet per minute, according to the Coastal Emergency Risks Assessment.
There are multiple factors that can affect the size of a storm surge. Storms that approach land perpendicular to the coast — like Florence — produce more powerful surges. And the shape of a coastline, as well as local features like sandbars and barrier islands, can affect how the water propagates over land.
North Carolina has lots of sandy barrier islands, which could halt the flow of water inland. However, with a storm as powerful as Florence, it’s likely that these islands will be inundated.
Storm surges aren’t included in the Saffir-Simpson scale for measuring hurricane intensity. That scale includes only wind speed, which makes the danger associated with a Category 2 storm like Florence misleading.
Storm surge projections for Florence
The National Hurricane Center has issued hurricane and storm surge warnings for the coastal areas between the South Santee River in South Carolina and Duck, North Carolina as well as Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds in North Carolina.
“A storm surge warning means there is a danger of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline,” The National Hurricane Center said.
North Carolina’s barrier islands, from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout, could see the biggest storm surge: between 7 and 11 feet above mean sea level.
Parts of North Carolina’s coast, including Hatteras and the Outer Banks, are already experiencing waves of around 30 feet, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration buoys. The storm surge is starting to wash over roads, according to videos and images taken by residents who remained in evacuation zones on Thursday.
Because Florence is expected to stall over North and South Carolina for several days, there’s ample opportunity for the storm surge to coincide with high tide. If Florence sticks around the Carolinas for more than two days, the storm surge could coincide with four high tide cycles, since high tides occur once every 12 hours.
“The timing of the surge with the tide is enormously important,” Rick Luettich, the Director of the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told Mashable.
On Wednesday, FEMA administrator Brock Long warned, “storm surge is why many of you have been placed under evacuation, and we are asking citizens to please heed the warning. Your time is running out.”
The compounding effects of rainfall on storm surges
In the case of Hurricane Florence, potential flooding from storm surge will be compounded by rainfall.
Since the storm is predicted to linger over the Carolinas, it could dump up to 40 inches of rain in some areas. Even places as far inland as Charlotte and Raleigh could get between 6 and 10 inches of rain.
Rain runoff from land and rivers combines with the storm surge in coastal inlets, exacerbating flood problems.
The trend of sluggish hurricanes with high flood risk — like last year’s Hurricane Harvey — might represent a new normal. Recent research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that storms slowed by an average of 10% between 1949 and 2016, making storm surges and the associated flooding more costly and disastrous.
On top of all this is sea-level rise, which increases the flood risk from hurricanes. In 2010, scientists from the Coastal Resources Commission wrote a report that showed the sea level on North Carolina’s coast could rise by 39 inches by 2100.
North Carolina legislators voted to ban the use of the report for policy and planning purposes, according to The Raleigh News & Observer, since they feared it would affect coastal property values.
Read more of Business Insider’s hurricane coverage:
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.