Chris Mooney, the Storm Pundit, dishes out the news on the record-making severity of Hurricane Dean. Mooney’s latest book is Storm World: Hurricanes, politics, and the battles over global warming.
Dean was officially the most powerful hurricane that we’ve seen globally so far in 2007, and was by far the strongest at landfall. It was also the first Category 5 Atlantic hurricane seen since the record-setting Hurricane Wilma of October 2005. In fact, Dean set some records of its own. Its pressure was the ninth lowest ever measured in the Atlantic, and the third lowest at landfall. Indeed, there hasn’t been a full Category 5 landfall in our part of the world since 1992’s Hurricane Andrew. Dean was in all respects a terrifying storm, and we can only hope that the damage will somehow be less than expected as it tears across the peninsula and then, after crossing the Bay of Campeche, moves on to a presumed second Mexican landfall.
Dean is already in the record books in ways that should make policy makers think hard about what to do in terms of disaster preparation, and in terms of what political entities can do to prevent actions that intensify such storms:
1. Dean is the ninth most intense Atlantic storm by pressure, and six of the top ten (Wilma, Rita, Katrina, Mitch, Dean, and Ivan) have occurred in the past ten years.
2. Dean is the strongest hurricane anywhere this year, and by far the strongest at landfall. It is the tenth category 4 or 5 hurricane globally and the 3rd Category 5.
Texas has mobilized disaster relief efforts as never before. School buses have been mustered near San Antonio for evacuations. 90,000 gallons of gasoline have been delivered to potential hurricane zones, to aid in self-evacuations. Helicopters are being mustered just outside potential storm zones. Someone is paying attention to the damage mitigation and clean up.