Very busy the last few days in the natural disaster end of things. Just a couple of quick notes. Fiona has strengthened to a Category 3 hurricane and is still drafting rain bands across the already flooded Puerto Rico; the edges are blasting through the Turks and Caicos. After passing Bermuda Thursday morning (probably close enough to cause hurricane conditions), the long range forecast has Fiona making landfall on Vinland (Newfoundland), still with hurricane force winds. Newfoundland should be watching as well, and the northern half may see tropical storm conditions – but five days is still a ways out. Here’s the forecast swath …
Puerto Rico has had a tremendous amount of rain from Fiona, over a meter (3 feet) in many places. Flash flooding and mudslides continue, with rescues ongoing across the island. Economic impacts will likely be on the order of $3-$4 Billion USD, but a lot depends on the recovery. Maria was nearly twice as costly as it “should” have been due to the botched response. We shall see if things go differently this time – but I’m not optimistic. Many of the structural and political problems that would lead to a more effective recovery have not changed. The Dominican Republic has also been hit hard by Fiona, with damages likely on the order of $2 Billion USD.
Japan is cleaning up from Typhoon Nanmadol. Economic impacts there are probably on the order of $7 BIllion USD, mostly transitory impacts. The coarse minded might well ask how Japan can get hit by a supertyphoon and only 300,000 out of 125 million people can lose power (and it is expected to be back on Wednesday), whereas all 3.1 million people in Puerto Rico had their power knocked out by a minimal hurricane and many may not get power back for weeks.
The usual suspects appear to be hyping a tropical wave approaching the Windward Island of the Caribbean as the next Death Storm That Will Kill Us All! GFS spins it up in to a major hurricane in the Gulf, but last I looked other models aren’t so enthusiastic. As usual, we’ll see. NHC has it at a 10% in the short term (two days), but at 50% of becoming a depression before Saturday. There is also an incipient storm in the mid Atlantic that is moving north, that is only of concern to shipping companies, fish, and fish-related activities.