SELC updates hurricane report after two record-breaking storm seasons

The past two hurricane seasons have flung monster storms towards the East Coast and through areas that President Trump wants to open to offshore drilling, further amplifying the risk oil drilling would pose to our coastal economy.

As a result, SELC has updated its 2018 report, “Too Much to Lose: Offshore Drilling & Hurricanes in the Southeast.”

When we published our first report, the trend to stronger and more destructive storms—and the danger they posed to oil rigs and pipelines—was already clear. What we’ve seen in the past two seasons, and already early in this season, puts an exclamation point on that trend. If it wasn’t clear to decisionmakers before, it should be now: The waters off the Southeast should remain free of oil rigs.”

—Sierra Weaver, head of SELC’s Coast and Wetlands Team

Among the updates:
  • 2018 and 2019 saw tropical storms form before the official start of the hurricane season on June 1. That trend has continued this season, a record six consecutive times.
  • Florence and Michael in 2018 caused a combined $49 billion in damages and contributed to one of the nation’s costliest years in term of climate disasters. Florence was the second so-called “1,000-year storm” to strike the Carolina coastal plain in two years.
  • Florence was the region’s wettest storm on record, dumping 8 trillion gallons of rain on North Carolina.
  • The 2019 storm season produced the easternmost Category 5 hurricane in the history of the Atlantic – Lorenzo – meaning each of the past five seasons have spawned at least one Category 5 storm, also a record.
  • Hurricane Dorian’s path overlapped almost precisely with the area proposed for offshore leasing, and once it made landfall its 7-foot storm surge trapped residents on Ocracoke Island for weeks.

“When we published our first report, the trend to stronger and more destructive storms—and the danger they posed to oil rigs and pipelines—was already clear,” says Senior Attorney Sierra Weaver, head of SELC’s Coast and Wetlands team. “What we’ve seen in the past two seasons, and already early in this season, puts an exclamation point on that trend. If it wasn’t clear to decisionmakers before, it should be now: The waters off the Southeast should remain free of oil rigs.”

Despite the increasing power and frequency of hurricanes—and despite near unanimous opposition to offshore drilling on the East Coast—President Trump is still moving forward with plans to open the Atlantic Ocean to the oil industry. The President has also cut back on the federal safeguards put in place to prevent another catastrophe like the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The updated report can be found here.

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