Writing in USA TODAY on Friday, Doyle Rice noted that, as Hurricane Dorian moved away from the United States, it’s now certain that the storm’s lasting legacy will be its slow, torturous rampage as a Category 5 monster across the Bahamas over the Labour Day weekend, which left dozens dead and unimaginable destruction.
With sustained winds of 185 mph [296 kph], Dorian was the strongest hurricane on record to strike the Bahamas since records began in 1851.
It was also the first Category 5 to make landfall on Grand Bahama Island, and, at 185 mph [296 kph], was the strongest hurricane on record to hit Abaco Island.
What was even more stunning was its slow path across the Bahamas: According to Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach, Dorian tracked only about 25 miles [40 km] in 24 hours – the shortest distance tracked by an Atlantic major hurricane in a 24-hour period since Hurricane Betsy in 1965.
Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters said that “portions of (Dorian’s) eyewall lashed Great Abaco and Grand Bahama islands with Category 5 winds for a total of 22 hours before the great hurricane finally weakened to Category 4 strength.
“In records going back over a century, there are no cases where an Atlantic Category 5 hurricane has impacted a land area for as long as Dorian battered the Bahamas,” Masters said.
At least 30 people are reported dead in the Bahamas and the death toll is expected to rise significantly. Property losses in the Bahamas could hit $7 billion.
The storm also left its mark in the record books in other ways:
As of Friday, with its landfall in North Carolina, Dorian has been a hurricane for a total of nine days. This is longer than most Atlantic storms: Klotzbach said that only about 10% of all Atlantic hurricanes last longer than eight days.
While this may seem like a lot, it’s still a long way from the record of 19.5 days, which was set by Hurricane Ginger in 1971, according to Klotzbach. Ginger took a long and loopy path around the Atlantic before finally making landfall in North Carolina in late September 1971.
In addition, Dorian has been a named storm for 13 days, which includes its first few days as a tropical storm. That places it in a tie for 5th place for most storm days by an Atlantic hurricane that formed in August, Klotzbach said.
Because of the death and destruction caused by Dorian, the storm’s name will almost certainly be retired by the World Meteorological Organization; the United Nations’ group that determines which hurricane names will be used in upcoming years.
A nation hardest hit by a storm can request its name be removed because the storm was so deadly or costly that future use of the name would be insensitive. The names of two of last year’s most destructive storms – Florence and Michael – were retired by the WMO earlier this year.
Yesterday (Saturday) afternoon’s news was that the Hurricane Watch net suspended activities at 16h00 UTC on Friday, because Dorian had inched away from the North Carolina coast, and been downgraded to a Category One storm, with sustained windspeeds near 145 kph.
Here’s an encouraging report from univadis.co.za about the ongoing battle of misinformation, with regard to vaccinations of all kinds.
A major social media platform has announced that it will only display authoritative vaccine information to its users, as part of efforts to tackle health misinformation.
Last year, Pinterest stopped showing results for searches related to vaccines as a way to prevent people from encountering harmful health misinformation. Now, the social media platform has announced it is introducing a new experience so that when users search for terms such as vaccine safety or other related health terms, they will only receive reliable results about vaccination from leading public health organisations.
The move has been welcomed by the WHO, whose Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he hopes to see other social media platforms around the world following Pinterest’s lead.
“Misinformation about vaccination has spread far and fast on social media platforms in many different countries, including during critical vaccination campaigns like those for polio in Pakistan or yellow fever in South America.
“Social media platforms are the way many people get their information and they will likely be major sources of information for the next generations of parents. We see this as a critical issue and one that needs our collective effort to protect people’s health and lives,” Dr Tedros said.
Finally, Krugersdorp News reports that, if disaster strikes and the world finds itself on the brink of destruction, radio communication may be the only way of getting the message out when all other systems fail.
Okay, so maybe that’s the worst-case scenario and it probably won’t happen. Learning radio communication skills and writing the international exam can still be very important, however. The disaster scenario was one of the many reasons Geoff Levey, ZS6C, from the West Rand Amateur Radio Club (WRARC) brought up for why it’s important for people to take up the hobby of, as they name it, amateur radio.
Young Clarissa Clarke, ZS6LIS, who knows all about the important uses of the international radio system, most of all enjoys connecting to people from all over the world.
Although the ever-increasing ease of accessibility to cell-phones and the internet has put a damper on the widespread use of radio as a means of communication, there has recently been a relative explosion of interest among members of the community, who are taking this up as a hobby. Clarissa is one of the many young people who found an interest in radio communication when she joined WRARC three years ago, following in her father’s footsteps.
At 21, Clarissa can build a complex radio system from scratch, and fully understands how to connect to any radio system around the world. She enjoys spending her time talking to people from across the globe. Sometimes these friends establish a radio time and frequency beforehand, and sometimes she meets new and interesting people by randomly accessing channels.
Last year, Clarissa participated in the Youngsters On The Air (YOTA) conference when it was hosted in South Africa. This year, she was chosen as one of only two youngsters to travel to Bulgaria from 10th to 17th August to participate in this year’s YOTA conference.
YOTA, in IARU Region 1, is a shining example of what value amateur radio can add to the lives of tomorrow’s leaders of society.
This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.