Matthew Lee and Quincy Lee
Staff Writer and Science and Tech Editor
As you may or may not have heard in recent news, Hurricane Matthew swept through the East Coast of the United States over the weekend. Meteorologists are calling Hurricane Matthew one of the most powerful storms of the annual hurricane season, classifying it as a Category 5 Hurricane with winds breaking the threshold of 156 miles per hour.
This deadly tropical storm is the unfortunate result of a tropical wave which culminated in the second to last week of September. Hurricane Matthew developed from a tropical wave in Africa and has accumulated in velocity during its path in the Caribbean islands. The monstrous weather has already affected many countries before its recent appearance in the Southeastern United States, such as Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.
Hurricane Matthew was influenced by the weather cycle of El Niño/La Niña. As this past winter was an El Niño season, this year is La Niña season. Throughout history, the increased trade winds typical of a La Niña event are related to hurricane activity. The three worst hurricanes in the past decades have followed this pattern. Katrina, in 2005, followed the 2004 El Niño and Sandy, 2011, followed the 2010 El Niño.2016 is considered one of the most powerful El Niño years recorded and Hurricane Matthew is one of the results.
Hurricane Matthew has already done catastrophic damage to many tropical island nations. The storm formed along the equator and, propelled by the Coriolis force, gained strength as it moved North. Destroying thousands of homes, villages, streets and cities as it barreled through Haiti and Jamaica, Matthew picked up wind speeds of 120 mph as it passed through Bahamas and made its way up the coast of Florida and the Carolinas.
On top of the gale-force winds destroying the structure of entire towns in Haiti, the stagnant water left behind has been causing cholera outbreaks. The contamination has been filling hospitals throughout the nation, as the death toll rises over 1,000.
Many Southeastern border states such as North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida have taken experienced their own disastrous wreckage despite mandatory evacuations. Multiple weather channels and radio stations in the area issued urgent warnings about the potential loss of life for citizens who refused to evacuate. Hurricane Matthew’s damages during its entrance into the U.S. have left almost 1.5 million people without power due to outages. It’s deluges of water have left much infrastructure destroyed and dozens dead.
There have been 33 reported deaths from Hurricane Matthew in the U.S. as of Tuesday morning, with many lives being saved due to the emergency response protocols of the United States. President Barack Obama himself announced that citizens are highly advised to evacuate danger zones, saying, “do not be a holdout here because we can always replace property, but we can’t replace lives.”
As the rivers are still rising beyond historically recorded levels in North Carolina, 887 people have been rescued from floodwaters. Crews are “extremely exhausted,” according to a USA Today interview of authorities in the area. Resources to help those in need are few and far between, requiring the helicopter evacuations of entire neighborhoods still experiencing flooding. Military helicopters are transporting thousands of cholera vaccines to Haiti in order to lessen the burden of over capacity hospitals and contaminated water.
As Californians, we are fortunate enough not to experience the dangers of frequent hurricane warnings. However, people in the Southeastern border states are constantly in fear of hurricanes, tsunamis and other wind and water related natural disasters because of the highly volatile weather in that region.
If you do have family members, friends or loved ones in these coastal states (mainly Georgia, North and South Carolina and Florida), it would be wise to check up on them in the recent days to get an update on their condition.
Most importantly, donations to emergency relief charities are in demand as many of the people affected will be without food, water, homes and jobs. Some charitable organizations to donate to are the American Red Cross and Disaster Relief International.