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Isaac reaches hurricane strength just before landfall

New Orleans threatened by flooding

Hurricane Isaac swirls in the Gulf of Mexico.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The National Hurricane Center has upgraded Isaac to hurricane status just hours before the storm is expected to make landfall in Louisiana, with warnings and watches in effect for a big stretch of the northern Gulf Coast.

The slow-moving storm is expected to generate a six- to 12-foot storm surge along parts of the coast, and heavy rains will also contribute to flooding in low-lying coastal areas. Sustained winds of 70 mph could increase by another 10 mph before the storm moves ashore later Tuesday evening, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Forecast rainfall amounts from Hurricane Isaac.

For now, the forecast track takes the storm up the Mississippi River Valley and straight into Arkansas, one of the areas hit hardest by this summer’s drought. Moisture from the storm could help ease the drought in the area, with two to five inches of rain forecast.

The storm is also cutting a swath through the heart of the offshore oil production area in the Gulf, shutting operations temporarily on many oil and gas drill rigs. Visit the SkyTruth blog for more information on hurricanes and offshore oil drilling.

Forecasters are warning that, even though Isaac isn’t a high category storm, its slow speed and large size will result in significant impacts. Hurricane-force winds extend about 60 miles outward from the center, with tropical storm-force winds up to 185 miles outward.

Even in the best of times, southern Louisiana is prone to flooding

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The area around Venice, Louisiana, near the mouth of the Mississippi River, is at or below sea level. Even during calm weather, roads are often inundated by water.

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Morning photo: Beaches

Gotta keep ‘em clean!

Cape San Blas, Florida.

SUMMIT COUNTY — I spent much of Sunday reading and re-reading a very discouraging study on toxic oil pollution along Gulf Coast beaches. Despite all the chamber of commerce and government propaganda on how well everything has been cleaned up, it turns out that there are alarmingly high levels of carcinogenic oil-related PAHs still accumulating in the shallows all along the northern Gulf Coast, including beaches where our family waded and swam last spring and summer. You can read the story here. Just another reason to try and end our addiction to oil as soon as possible … Continue reading

Study: Deepwater Horizon oil disaster changed environmental views of some Gulf Coast residents

Responses to survey varied geographically

Deepwater Horizon Response Bird Rescue. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class John D. Miller.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Many Gulf Coast residents most directly affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster have become more concerned about a wide range of environmental issues, including sea level rise.

Some also became more likely to support a moratorium on deepwater drilling and  to favor alternative energy rather than increased oil exploration. But the responses varied geographically, with Lousiana residents less likely to support limits on drilling, while Florida residents favor stronger environmental protections, according to University of New Hampshire researchers who interviewed 2,023 residents of the Gulf Coast conducted in the aftermath of the explosion on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig in April 2010.

“If disasters teach any lessons, then experience with the Gulf oil spill might be expected to alter opinions about the need for environmental protection. About one-fourth of our respondents said that as a result of the spill, their views on other environmental issues such as global warming or protecting wildlife had changed,” said UNH sociology professor Lawrence Hamilton. Continue reading

Environment: Gulf drilling permits challenged in court

Gulf residents rally for oil spill health care bill, new leak detected off Louisiana

The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in flames after a deadly explosion in 2010.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —For federal permitting agencies, it might be back to business as usual on oil drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico — but that’s not the case for Gulf Coast residents still feeling the aftermath of last year’s Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Many will rally today at the Capitol in Baton Rouge to call for passage of  the Oil Spill Health Bill (HB 389) sponsored by Representative Patrick Connick. The bill would step up monitoring for oil spill-related health impacts. More information here: Oil Spill Health Bill (HB 389).

At the same time, environmental groups monitoring the northern Gulf have detected a new oil spill in the past few days. SkyTruth reported on the new slick via Twitter:

The source of the oil was identified early Monday morning:

The slick isn’t far from the Delta National Wildlife Refuge. The National Wildlife Federation is reporting on the latest spill here. Continue reading

Morning photo: Sunset meditation

Sun, sand and sea …

End of the day, Gulf Coast, Florida.

SUMMIT COUNTY — I’ve always thought that sunset is a great time to drop what you’re doing and reflect for a few minutes. Watching the sun slip below the horizon really gives me a sense of the inexorable spinning of our globe, and with that, the full reality that time never stops. Each day is a gift, and sunset is the perfect moment to consciously appreciate it. Next time you notice those dusk colors getting deeper in the sky, think about shutting down your computer, turning the TV off and spending a few moments outside, reflecting on the grace we’ve been given.

All the shots were taken on Manasota Key, in Englewood Florida.

The reflected colors on the shadow of the log make me think of a diamond ring.

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