The season of storms has arrived, but this year, the abnormal has become normal. With storms repeatedly impacting the US, primarily the surrounding states of the Gulf of Mexico as well as Puerto Rico and a number of Caribbean countries, communities are struggling to brace for destruction and rebuild amidst all the chaos.
This season alone, nine storms have been classified as hurricanes, according to the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale (SSHWS). Many confuse the difference between a tropical storm and a hurricane. According to the Weather Channel, the SSHWS takes any tropical storm with winds above 74 mph and places it in one of five categories to indicate the severity of the hurricane.
The most prominent of these storms have been Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. Harvey was a Category Five hurricane, which meant its winds reached 157 mph or higher. Irma, a Category Four storm, had speeds upwards of 130 mph and Maria registered as a Category Three, with winds above 111 mph. According to CNN, Harvey’s impact was felt most in Texas, whereas Irma created a path of devastation through Florida. Maria stayed away from the East Coast, but caused damage in Puerto Rico. The signs for an exceptionally strong hurricane season indicated this year would be particularly calamitous, according to NBC4 meteorologist Dave Mazza.
“This summer, we have had abnormally low wind shear in the normal zones where we see hurricane/tropical development,” Dave Mazza said, “the water temperature, including water temperature below the surface, has been running well above normal. The forecast heading into this season was clearly indicating that we would have above normal activity.”
With the increasing number and power of the hurricanes, controversy on global warming has arisen. “Our reliance on fossil fuels, which leads to an increase of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, leads to global warming and climate change,” science teacher Jessica Timmons said, “as global temperatures increase, evaporation increases and this fuels the hurricane.”
Even though the hurricanes may not have hit Columbus, local families are feeling the impact, as many have relatives in the path of destruction. Mazza said that he had family members in areas where both Harvey and Irma hit.
“I have family who live in the line of both Harvey and Irma in Texas and Florida,” said Mazza, “My parents, sister and brotherin-law were all sheltered in place when Irma went overhead in Naples with 142 mph winds. Luckily, they were prepared, but it might be months before things return to normal down there too.”
In the wake of such catastrophe, students strived to make a difference. Freshman Heber Fuller started a book drive with his Eagle Scout troop to help rebuild school and local libraries who lost their books in the flooding.
“The book drive runs Oct. 1-31, and the books can be dropped off at many different drop-off locations like the Westerville and Orange libraries as well as schools,” Fuller said. “I want to replenish the schools’ libraries and help surrounding schools and public libraries. My goal is to collect 10,000 books, but if we can collect more that would be great,” Fuller said.
The highschool was also apart of the district-wide event known as, Hats for Houston, where students, faculty and teachers came together and donated $1 to wear a hat to school. Altogether, the district earned over $25,000 to donate to the American Red Cross and assist Texas residents impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
Athletic director, Buck Weaver, led the event at OOHS. “In addition to the fundraiser for students to pay a dollar to wear a hat, we also had a student coordinate a donation night at a football game and raised money for Hurricane Harvey,” Weaver said.
Even though these hurricanes are causing instability, coming together as a community and nation is the first place to start.