Why Hurricane Sally is moving so slowly—and delivering epic rainfall

Stop thinking of resilience as a trait. It’s more than that

After living in San Francisco for many years, my friend and her husband decided to relocate to New York City. Jessica (not her real name) is an Asian American woman in her early 30s. She began her first shift as a nurse practitioner at the psychiatric ward of an NYC hospital in March of 2020, just as the COVID-19 crisis was intensifying.

It was a rocky start: During her occupational health clearance the week before her first official day, Jessica was rattled to see that no one was wearing personal protective equipment. In fact, the chief of psychiatry explicitly told her not to wear a mask—and shortly thereafter became infected with COVID-19 himself. In her first 10 days, both of the other psychiatric providers in Jessica’s unit were out sick. Many of the patients Jessica treated had clearly been struggling for a long time, and she could see how their mental illnesses had been exacerbated by racism and institutional neglect…

Why Hurricane Sally is moving so slowly—and delivering epic rainfall

These storms developed completely differently, but why? Why do some hurricanes barrel into the coast with devastating speed, while others park over an area and cause major flooding? And could climate change be influencing them?

Hurricane Sally struck the Gulf Coast from Mississippi to the Florida Panhandle as a Category 2 storm. It’s expected to dump a devastating 20 inches of rain as it continues moving over land more slowly than the average person walks—about 3 miles per hour.

Last month, Hurricane Laura struck southwest Louisiana and Texas, trotting onshore at 15 mph as a Category 4 storm that rapidly lost steam once over land. (See photos from a Louisiana town struggling to rebuild after Laura.)

Twice in the past three days, Sally built wind speeds in just a few hours—the storm “rapidly intensified”; on Monday and then again late Tuesday into Wednesday morning. Laura also rapidly intensified—from a tropical storm to a Category 3 hurricane in 24 hours—but it moved quickly…

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