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Hurricane Patricia

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Mexico Dodges A Bullet!
California, not so much!
By Ernest Stewart

"Hurricane seasons with four or more super-hurricanes, those with sustained wind speeds of 131 mph or more will soon become the norm." ~~~ Dr. Joseph J. Romm

You may have been watching Hurricane Patricia. Hurricane Patricia was a tropical hurricane that formed in the eastern Pacific and rapidly intensified into a Category 5 hurricane. Even more quickly than the storm strengthened, it rapidly weakened over the rugged terrain of Mexico.

Patricia initially formed on Oct. 20, 2015 and dissipated on Oct. 24, 2015.

Just 30 hours after peaking in intensity as the most powerful tropical cyclone ever measured in the Western Hemisphere, former Hurricane Patricia degenerated into a weak remnant low over northeast Mexico.

On Oct. 23, Patricia became the most powerful tropical cyclone ever measured in the Western Hemisphere as its maximum sustained winds reached an unprecedented 200 mph and its central pressure fell to 879 millibars (25.96 inches of mercury).

Mexico dodges the bullet because Patricia rapidly went from a 200 mph F5 hurricane to a tropical storm. She could have maintained her speed and spun off dozens of F5 tornadoes causing a whole lot more damage than she did!

In addition to its unprecedented 200-mph sustained winds, Hurricane Patricia broke the record for lowest pressure in any hurricane on record. With a minimum central pressure of 880 millibars (25.99 inches of mercury) at the 4 a.m. CDT advisory Oct. 23, Patricia broke the record of 882 millibars set by Wilma in the Atlantic Basin almost exactly 10 years earlier. Around 1 p.m. CDT Oct. 23, the minimum central pressure reached its lowest point, 879 millibars (25.96 inches of mercury).

Data from an Air Force Hurricane Hunter airborne reconnaissance mission late on the night of Oct. 22 provided critical data demonstrating the extreme intensification of Hurricane Patricia in near-real time. A new NOAA reconnaissance aircraft reached the eye of Patricia early on the afternoon of Oct. 23 to gather additional direct measurements of the storm's intensity.

Hurricane Patricia became the strongest Pacific hurricane on record shortly after midnight CDT early on Oct. 23. Air Force Hurricane Hunters had flown through the eye of Patricia and reported a sea-level pressure of 894 millibars as measured by a dropsonde inside the eye itself. Wind measurements suggested that the pressure measurement was not in the exact center of the eye and was probably not the absolute lowest pressure, prompting NHC to estimate the minimum central pressure at 892 millibars in its special 12:30 a.m. CDT advisory.

Tropical cyclone strength comparisons are typically based on minimum central pressure. At 892 millibars, Patricia shattered the Eastern Pacific basin's previous record of 902 millibars set by Hurricane Linda in 1997.

While a number of the super typhoons in the western North Pacific have been stronger, Patricia is now by far the strongest hurricane on record in any basin where the term "hurricane" applies to tropical cyclones, namely, the central and eastern North Pacific basins and the North Atlantic basin, which includes the North Atlantic Ocean itself plus the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. I'm sure the climate deniers will just toss it off to a once in a 1,000 years storm; funny, there seems to be a lot of once in a thousand years storms happening lately, huh? Do you suppose this might be a trend?

Aedes aegypti

Meanwhile, more good climate news from California! When I lived there, one of the many pluses from my Midwestern abodes was there were no mosquitoes either in Hollywood or in Malibu. There were these little flies that were see-through. You could see all their internal organs; but they never bothered you -- unless, of course, you were stoned, and were wondering if you were hallucinating; you were, but they were real, just the same!

Now the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith is warning Californians to protect themselves from two invasive mosquito species recently found in California. Both species can transmit infectious diseases, such as dengue fever, chikungunya and yellow fever. This warning comes as two more counties are added to the list of counties where Aedes aegypti (the yellow fever mosquito) and Aedes albopictus (the Asian tiger mosquito) have been detected. Doctor Smith said:
"It is important to know these species of mosquitoes because they are not what we're used to in California, and they can transmit diseases such as dengue fever, chikungunya and yellow fever. While the risk is still low in California, infected travelers coming back to California can transmit these viruses to mosquitoes that bite them. This can lead to additional people becoming infected if they are then bitten by those mosquitoes.

"In September 2015, Aedes aegypti was detected for the first time in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Since 2013, when this species was first discovered in Madera, Fresno and San Mateo counties, it has been found in Tulare, Kern, Los Angeles, San Diego, Imperial, Orange, and Alameda counties. Also in September, Aedes albopictus, was detected in Kern and San Diego counties and has expanded in regions of Los Angeles County."
Neither of these mosquitoes is native to California. They are known for their black-and-white stripes, biting people during the middle of the day and readily entering buildings. The more-familiar Culex mosquitoes bite primarily at dusk and dawn. Doctor Smith continued:
"There is no vaccine or treatment for chikungunya or dengue fever. To prevent these diseases from becoming established in California, it is important for everyone to take steps to keep these mosquitoes from spreading. If you notice that you are being bitten by mosquitoes during the day, or notice black-and-white striped mosquitoes, call your local mosquito and vector control agency. Your participation in mosquito surveillance greatly aids in efforts to detect new infestations."
Of course, the reason there were hardly any mosquitoes to begin with was L.A. is a desert with little water for breeding mosquitoes. Now, there are two new subspecies that primarily live in jungles and rain forests running rampant in the desert; isn't global warming fun?


08-17-1920 ~ 10-24-2015
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(c) 2015 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for 13 years was the managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter.

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Issues & Alibis Vol 15 # 44 (c) 10/30/2015