BREAKING NEWS : Indiana coronavirus cases increase to 51,612; 2,567 deaths Full Story
BREAKING NEWS : Allen County reports 18 new COVID-19 cases, 1 new death Full Story

Carolinas brace for flooding after Florence

Authorities warn that the damage from Florence is far from over as the flood danger continues to be an imminent threat to the Carolinas.

Posted: Sep 17, 2018 3:30 PM
Updated: Sep 17, 2018 4:32 PM

As we write, Florence is slamming into the Carolinas. State, local and federal emergency planners have been working around the clock for the past week to prepare their communities and citizens to deal with this powerful storm.

The governors of North and South Carolina and the mayors of Wilmington and Myrtle Beach told their citizens and tourists along the coasts to evacuate to higher ground in advance of the flooding and storm surge. Nearly 2 million people were under mandatory and voluntary evacuations orders.

The National Guard and the Coast Guard have been providing search and rescue services. And the media, both traditional and social, are broadcasting non-stop real-time updates as the storm blankets the coast. All of this advance planning was possible because the science and technology that goes into predicting hurricanes have gotten steadily better for decades. We now have much better forecasts than we used to, available further in advance.

Better forecasts give local officials more timely information, allowing them and their citizens to make life-saving decisions. If Florence had hit the Carolinas 30 years ago, the accuracy of the track forecast two days ahead of time would have been about the same as that for the five-day forecast today. Whatever the final death toll from Florence, it would almost certainly have been substantially larger back then, even though there are many more people living in the areas at risk today.

How did we get forecasts good enough to give us a week to prepare for storms such as Florence? It may feel like they are free, because as individuals we don't see a bill for them. But they aren't free. They are the result of sustained public investment in scientific research and education.

According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in inflation-adjusted dollars, federal support for university-based research increased from around $8 billion per year in the 1960s to more than $30 billion today.

Federal agencies have long supported basic research in mathematics and the physical sciences, computer science and engineering, and the geosciences. That basic research forms the foundation that enables the development of sophisticated models that can simulate the atmosphere with amazing fidelity.

Key components of that foundation today include the powerful supercomputers needed to run the models; satellites, radar, and other instruments carried on airplanes, balloons and other platforms that make the key observations the models need to start their predictions; and, equally important, an understanding of how the atmosphere and ocean work, separately and together.

For example, beginning with Ed Lorenz's work on chaos theory in the 1960s, scientists have worked out how and why the weather is unpredictable beyond a week or two ahead of time. This understanding informs the data assimilation systems used to put observations into the prediction models, and the ensemble systems that run the same model over and over again to assess uncertainty, producing the "spaghetti diagrams" of multiple hurricane tracks that you can now find all over the internet when a storm is coming.

At our own Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, in the 1980s, Mark Cane and Steven Zebiak developed the first computer model capable of predicting El Nino events, and this led to the seasonal forecasts of climate variations -- including overall levels of hurricane activity, though not specific individual hurricanes -- that we now get months in advance.

All of these products of publicly funded research allow us to predict our weather and climate with the accuracy needed to save lives in the ways we are seeing now. The observations, models and computers -- all implemented by well-trained professionals who themselves are products of sustained public investments in education and training that have been made alongside the investments in research -- turn huge amounts of raw data into "actionable intelligence" to be used by businesses, local and state governments, and citizens.

Florence is a dangerous storm. It may devastate coastal communities and the barrier islands with wind, rain and storm surge. There have already been fatalities, and most likely, there will be more, and those deaths will be very visible in the media.

Of course, any number of deaths is tragic. But the good news -- though much less visible -- will be the much greater number of lives that have been saved by this nation's continuing investment in the underlying science and technology.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 51079

Reported Deaths: 2756
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12019693
Lake5588248
Elkhart353959
Allen2939134
St. Joseph210669
Hamilton1691101
Cass16449
Hendricks1454100
Johnson1340118
Porter82638
Tippecanoe7709
Vanderburgh7276
Clark69544
Madison67464
LaPorte61628
Howard59858
Bartholomew59745
Kosciusko5754
Marshall5449
Noble51328
LaGrange4849
Boone48244
Jackson4783
Delaware47152
Hancock46736
Shelby45425
Floyd40644
Morgan34231
Monroe34028
Grant31826
Dubois3046
Henry30018
Montgomery29720
Clinton2903
White27410
Dearborn25823
Decatur25632
Lawrence25225
Vigo2528
Warrick25029
Harrison21722
Greene19432
Miami1932
Jennings17912
Putnam1738
DeKalb1694
Scott1649
Wayne1546
Daviess15017
Perry14710
Orange13723
Steuben1362
Jasper1352
Ripley1307
Franklin1278
Gibson1202
Wabash1162
Carroll1142
Fayette1067
Whitley1066
Starke1043
Newton10010
Huntington942
Jefferson862
Wells821
Randolph794
Fulton731
Knox710
Jay700
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay645
Rush613
Posey570
Spencer541
Owen521
Benton510
Sullivan501
Adams491
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain352
Crawford330
Switzerland320
Tipton321
Parke270
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union140
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 64214

Reported Deaths: 3036
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin11724445
Cuyahoga8979393
Hamilton6781207
Lucas2952305
Marion274539
Montgomery244035
Summit2327209
Pickaway222241
Mahoning1928239
Butler182147
Columbiana137860
Stark1214114
Lorain112069
Trumbull104578
Warren97725
Clark80010
Delaware69815
Fairfield66717
Tuscarawas60410
Lake58923
Medina58232
Belmont56922
Licking56812
Miami50631
Portage49259
Wood48851
Clermont4737
Ashtabula44744
Geauga42543
Wayne37253
Richland3715
Allen35641
Greene3439
Mercer29910
Erie27122
Holmes2595
Darke25626
Huron2402
Madison2169
Ottawa17324
Sandusky16015
Washington14620
Ross1443
Coshocton1423
Athens1391
Crawford1385
Putnam13715
Hardin12312
Morrow1201
Auglaize1094
Jefferson1092
Muskingum1001
Union931
Preble901
Monroe8917
Hancock861
Lawrence830
Guernsey823
Clinton811
Hocking809
Williams762
Shelby744
Logan711
Ashland672
Carroll673
Fulton670
Scioto670
Wyandot635
Brown611
Fayette550
Defiance533
Knox531
Champaign511
Highland501
Van Wert471
Perry441
Seneca412
Henry330
Paulding300
Jackson280
Pike280
Adams261
Vinton232
Gallia201
Noble140
Harrison131
Meigs130
Morgan110
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Scattered Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 70°
Angola
Broken Clouds
77° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 79°
Huntington
Broken Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 70°
Decatur
Overcast
77° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 79°
Van Wert
Overcast
77° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 79°
Sunday starts wet, ends dry
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events