Let's all face it, 2020 is not winning any awards for the best year ever; and with hurricane season now underway, it is time to start not only preparing for the present but look towards the future of protecting ourselves against this common, yet deadly force of nature. Since the turn of the century (the 2000s of course), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recorded that America alone has been subjected to 46 hurricanes, ranging from intensities 1-5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Mere days ago, we suffered our 47th, with the arrival of the category 3 hurricane, hurricane Laura, which devastated Louisiana with winds of over 120mph. While the damage done by hurricane Laura is indisputably horrific, one can only imagine the atrocities that could have been without the assistance of the latest in meteorological advancements and human adaptability in the field of response due to simultaneous efforts to assist those trapped, while preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Hurricane prediction and charting are by no means a modern marvel having been used as the primary early warning system for hurricanes as far back as the early 1990s, however, advancements in the field have greatly improved, gaining the ability to predict hurricane movement days in advance, even being able to almost perfectly predict the location size and of a hurricane. An article with meteorologist John Cangialosi written by Meredith Fore on the 27th of last month helps us to better understand the sheer scope of the advancements made within the study of meteorology: "When I started my career at the NHC (National Hurricane Center) in 2005, there's no way we would forecast rapid intensification, It didn’t matter what the models suggested; the confidence in the models wasn't there. Today, our confidence in analyzing the models is much higher” (Fore). The article continues to explain that in the past decade alone meteorologists have been able to reduce the size and movement accuracy down to 4km, as opposed to a staggering 12km; “a difference” writes Fore “that could save lives''.
While we may have these modern marvels to help us with the prediction of hurricanes, the sad truth is, that hurricanes are forces of nature; and there is little if not nothing we can to flat out prevent the inevitable. What makes the situations of hurricanes even more distressing this year is the menacing presence of CVID-19. As far as we know, the now well-known disease that has almost literally hit the pause button on the world is not going away soon, and with the expected increase of hurricanes due to the season approaching, many relief organizations are beginning to adapt, adopting new strategies to assist in evacuation and rescue that will still keep the risk of infection low. Along with these methods, many relief aid organizations are tracking the movement of the evacuated population to ensure that no one shelter becomes overcrowded. In an article done by the relief organization, Direct Relief, the group explains its efforts to even the tide of evacuated personnel to ensure the chances of COVID-19 spreading. This was done by “Comparing mobility patterns to a baseline figure allow[ing] Direct Relief and other disaster response agencies to glean useful information, including whether evacuation orders were heeded, which areas received higher concentrations of evacuees, and which communities saw more people sheltering in place.”(Direct Relief). This new system of funneling has become a useful way of not only ensuring that everyone received adequate attention by medical and humanitarian staff at shelters, but is also ensuring that we do not risk affecting those with a disaster, while they are escaping from another.
The future is uncertain; however, we all must remember that if we strive to adapt and innovate, we can help make the world a better place. There is always the possibility of a better tomorrow, what can you do to make it a reality?