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Hurricane Delta: Another blow to storm-battered Gulf Coast

Hundreds of thousands of people were left without power after Hurricane Delta slammed the Gulf Coast just six weeks after the region was devastated by Hurricane Laura. The hurricane, which weakened to a tropical storm when it made landfall on Friday, brought heavy winds and rain to the already damaged city of Lake Charles. Weather Channel meteorologist Jen Carfango joins to discuss.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    For more on the storm and the record-setting hurricane season, I spoke with meteorologist Jen Carfagno with The Weather Channel who joined us from Atlanta.

    Jen, first, how bad was the storm that just landed?

  • Jen Carfagno:

    Hurricane Delta was a strong Category 2 and first of all, we saw it in a sort of menacing the Gulf Coast as a major hurricane a cat 3 winds, 120 miles per hour. And the problem was it was building up water at that time. So the surge came in. We saw at least 8-foot storm surge. Those numbers can never be verified until days or even weeks after the storm makes landfall. And it came in with peak winds measured at 100 miles per hour. We saw that at Texas Point. We saw 96 mile per hour winds and Lake Charles, which is still reeling from Hurricane Laura. So this was a tough hit for the state of Louisiana.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    And when those storm surges hit, I mean, there are so many tiny little communities that are along the water. It's incalculable the damage that the storm surge does versus the actual wind and rain.

  • Jen Carfagno:

    The storm surge has so much power. Just think about the force of water, just think about trying to walk when you're at the beach and you walk in the water coming up to the edge and it moves you. Right? I mean, that level of force is there.

    But think about it up 6 feet, 7 feet, even up to 11 feet. We know it's possible with this. So that's really the big concern is those communities right there by the water that were prone to storm surge to begin with was they were going to get anywhere from 8 to 11 feet of storm surge into their homes.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    What's been happening to the Gulf Coast this hurricane season?

  • Jen Carfagno:

    What a hurricane season we have had! Ten landfalls of tropical storms and hurricanes. That's a new record that beats a record back in 1916. But we've had four alone just on the coast of Louisiana. And look at the trend this season, so many have hit the Gulf Coast and it goes back to just the pattern that we've been stuck in. Big ridge of high pressure over the Atlantic nosing in and just a little bit of a weakness that has allowed these storms to come into the Gulf and then move up and hit the Gulf Coast.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    And when does this end? I mean, we see, we see tropical storms forming out in the ocean and usually we're like, well, that's going to just go ahead and die out. But this year, not so much.

  • Jen Carfagno:

    This is a year like no other.

    We are already at our 25th named storms, we've had 26 storms. We've about more than doubled what you would see in a typical season and we still have a month and a half left to go in hurricane season.

    At this point in the season, you typically look closer to home, the Gulf of Mexico, the western Caribbean right off the southeastern coast for where storms will form. But I think anything goes this year. We still have an area to watch right now active out in the main development region of the Atlantic and we just have to stay vigilant I think well, to the end of hurricane season, which is November the 30th, but probably even beyond.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    A lot of these storms pick up energy when they go over warm water. What does climate change have to do when it comes to warming the temperatures like the areas in the Gulf Coast to make these storms even worse?

  • Jen Carfagno:

    The hurricanes that have affected the U.S. have gone through rapid intensification, meaning that they have gained more than 35 mile per hour wind speeds in 24 hours. And that happens when they're on and over really warm sea surface temperatures. And when you have year after year of record warm temperatures both over land and over the water, that's going to build up these deeper layers of warm water and allow for more rapid intensification to happen. So whether we see more hurricanes or less, what's possible most likely is that the stronger ones will get even stronger and we'll have more of those.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Jen Carfagno from The Weather Channel joining us from Atlanta. Thanks so much.

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