Hurricane Sally Affects The Environmentally Fragile Alabama Coastline
The eye of Hurricane Sally crept onto land near Gulf Shores this morning, moving at just 3 mph. Coastal areas began experiencing heavy rains and a strong storm surge hours before the storm made landfall. Both are threats to the fragile environment along the coast.
The storm surge already had begun eroding sand dunes Tuesday afternoon, according to the Weather Channel, as well as swamping piers and low-lying areas. The hurricane was packing winds upward of 100 mph early Wednesday morning, and rain in some areas could be more than 20 inches by the time the system has passed through the area, according to the National Weather Service.
BirminghamWatch about a year ago published several stories looking at the effects of climate change and the more severe weather it’s causing are having along Alabama’s coastline.
By Hank Black
Along coastal Alabama lies Dauphin Island, a narrow, shifting strip of sand inhabited by a laid-back vacation town that is becoming more endangered with every passing storm and every incremental rise in the warming waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Dauphin is one of perhaps 2,200 barrier islands that make up 10% to 12% of the globe’s coastline. They help absorb the blows of nature and suffer greatly for it, either eroding dramatically from catastrophic hurricane forces or gradually, almost imperceptibly, from constant wave action.
These sandy, offshore bodies are potent poster children for our planet’s warming, part of a natural, 100,000-year cycle that, according to most scientists, has greatly accelerated since the birth of the Industrial Age.