Hazards

Threats which may potentially impact Monroe County

Hurricanes & Coastal Hazards

A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone, a low pressure system that generally forms in the tropics. A typical cyclone is accompanied by thunderstorms, and in the Northern Hemisphere, a counterclockwise circulation of winds near the earth’s surface. Hurricanes can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland. Winds can exceed 155 miles per hour. Hurricanes and tropical storms can also spawn tornadoes and microbursts, create storm surges along the coast, and cause extensive damage from heavy rainfall.

Flooding

Flooding is defined by the rising and overflowing of water onto normally dry land. Flooding can result from an overflow of inland waters or an unusual accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source.

Severe Storms and Tornadoes (Including Water Spouts)

A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Thunderstorms result from the rapid upward movement of warm, moist air. They can occur inside warm, moist air masses and at fronts. Severe thunderstorm winds arise from convection and have speeds of at least 58 mph, or are winds of any speed producing a fatality, injury or damage.

Climate Change and Sea Level Rise

Sea level has been rising over the past century due to thermal expansion of warming ocean waters and increased ice melt of land-based ice. Due to sea-level rise projected throughout the 21st century and beyond, coastal systems and low-lying areas will increasingly experience adverse impacts such as submergence, coastal flooding, and coastal erosion.

Drought

Drought is a deficiency in precipitation over an extended period. It is a normal, recurrent feature of climate that occurs in virtually all climate zones. However, drought can affect people’s health and safety. It has the potential to impact water supply, agricultural yields, and water-dependent industries. Drought conditions can also increase the likelihood of wind erosion and increase wildfire risk.

Wildfire

A wildfire is an uncontained fire that spreads through the environment. Wildfires have the ability to consume large areas, including infrastructure, property, and resources.

Excessive Heat

Extreme heat events are one of the leading weather-related causes of death in the United States. Extreme high temperatures compromise the body’s ability to regulate its temperature, which can result in a cascade of illnesses and can aggravate chronic conditions. Excessive heat can also cause damage to infrastructure such as roads and bridges.

Coastal Erosion

Erosion, storm surge, rip currents, and sea level rise pose risks to coastal areas. Erosion can occur along the coast and in estuarine areas. Loss of land due to erosion is a hazard in itself, if eroded land contains structures. Erosion also makes an area more vulnerable to other hazards such as storm surge, by removing protective areas. Storm surge is an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above the predicted astronomical tides. This rise in water level can cause extreme flooding in coastal areas particularly when storm surge coincides with normal high tide, resulting in storm tides reaching up to 20 feet or more in some cases.

Image Credits

Flickr: Keys Library (Flood, Hurricane Damage); VisualHunt (Drought); Defense.gov (Tornado); NASA Goddard Photo and Video (Hurricane); Defense Visual Information Distribution Service ( Excessive Heat); Flickr: David Hachen ( Coastal Erosion); Flickr: Julia G ( Climate Change and SLR); Pexels Josh Sorenson ( Severe Storms); Pexels: Francesco Ungaro ( Drought);( Severe Storms); Pexels: Clem Onojeghuo ( Coastal Erosion);