The Stream, September 11: Hurricane Irma Makes Landfall in Florida, Leaves Millions Without Power

The Global Rundown

Hurricane Irma makes landfall in Florida, causing widespread damage and leaving millions without electricity. Further to the south, Hurricane Jose shifts away from the Caribbean. Toxic chemicals from illegal marijuana farms in California are polluting rivers that feed the state’s water supply. New research finds that thunderstorms located directly above busy shipping lanes are more intense than in other areas of the ocean. Hundreds of drinking water systems in Texas remain impaired in the wake of Tropical Storm Harvey. Thousands in Mexico are without water after a massive earthquake shook the country late Thursday.

“We think this could be the most challenging restoration in the history of the US.” –Chris McGrath, a spokesman for Florida Power and Light, in reference to restoring power to the 3.4 million people that are expected to lose electricity during Hurricane Irma. The state of Florida was battered by Irma throughout the day on Sunday, with the storm making landfall first in the Florida Keys and then again near Naples. Although Irma has been downgraded to a Category 2 Hurricane as of Sunday night, its impact is still being felt across the state, with flooding affecting major cities such as Miami and Tampa and more than 8 million residents facing winds over 75 mph. CNN

By The Numbers

8.1 Magnitude of a massive earthquake off the coast of Chiapas state, Mexico that took place late Thursday. The quake killed at least 90 people and affected upwards of 2 million. Homes and infrastructure were badly damaged, leaving many without a source of clean water. Reuters

213 Number of drinking water systems in Texas that are still impaired due to damage by Tropical Storm Harvey. As of Saturday, 161 systems have boil-water notices, while 52 remain shut down completely. Forty wastewater treatment plants are also inoperable. Reuters

50,000 Estimated number of illegal marijuana farms in California, many of which are using fertilizers and pesticides that have been restricted or banned in the United States. As a result, chemicals such as carbofuran and diazinon, which can cause convulsions, coma, and sometimes death, are showing up in streams and rivers that feed the state’s water supply. U.S. News & World Report

Science, Studies, And Reports

Thunderstorms are more severe directly above highly-traveled shipping routes due to aerosol particles emitted from ship exhaust, according to the American Geophysical Union. Researchers mapped lightning patterns around the world and found that lightning strikes twice as often along shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. The variability cannot be explained by changes in weather, leading scientists to conclude that ship exhaust is impacting how storm clouds are formed above the routes. Science Daily

On The Radar

Category 4 Hurricane Jose veered away from the Caribbean on Saturday, much to the relief of islands that were devastated last week by Hurricane Irma. The storm had been on track to hit the northern Leeward Islands, but is now forecasted to head into Atlantic waters and die out. Reuters