When you find out a hurricane is roaring your direction your first thought is unlikely to be, “Bring on the gifts!”
However, there is usually a brilliant life giving reason behind every natural climatic event, and hurricanes hand out several unique botanical gifts.
Unfortunately, these “gifts” are often served up with a huge side order of destruction making it hard to appreciate them until long after the hurricane has blown itself out.
Let’s have a look at five gusty “gifts” hurricanes give our planet…
Gusty Gift #1
Eradication of the Dreaded Red Tide
Red Tide refers to the formation of a red algae on the ocean’s surface, depleting the area of oxygen and creating a dead zone. Aquatic plants, birds, fish, sea turtles, manatees and even pygmy whales have perished in areas infiltrated with Red Tide.
Hurricane level winds cause wild waves and churning ocean waters that can break up the dreaded “Red Tide” and return oxygen to the area.
*Conversely, hurricanes can also cause Red Tide by blowing the algae inland or causing floods that result in sewage washing into the ocean, inadvertently feeding the algae further.
Gusty Gift #2
Restocking the Barrier Islands
Hurricanes scoop up sand, nutrients and sediment from the ocean floor and deliver this earthy gift with gusto along the shores of Barrier Islands.
Barrier Islands are long narrow strips of land that rise up from the ocean floor providing habitat for both flora and fauna.
Without the help of hurricanes or human intervention, these islands would eventually succumb to the pounding of the surf and erode back into the ocean.
Gusty Gift #3
There is nothing like a hurricane making landfall to redistribute nature’s wealth of seed material.
Some seeds will be carried by overland floods to waterways and end up hundreds of miles downstream, while others blow with such force they end up making their way thousands of miles inland.
Areas recently devastated by wildfires welcome this incoming migration of seed diversity to help green their way back to life.
Gusty Gift #4
Tree Trimming Sans Arborists
While uprooting and ripping the limbs off trees doesn’t seem like much of a gift, it is all part of Nature’s Master Plan.
Removing limbs not only allows for more sunshine to filter through the forest canopy, providing the necessary nourishment for smaller trees and other plants on the forest floor, it also makes it easier for the aforementioned seeds to wing their way through thick stands of trees.
And while it may sound a bit harsh, knocking down older, diseased trees makes room for healthier ones to grow to their full potential. The fallen trees and branches slowly break down on the forest floor, providing a source of rich mulch for the ones left standing.
Gusty Gift #5
Sharing of the Warmth
As those of us living in northern climates know all too well, things are cooler the further you are from the equator.
But did you know if it weren’t for hurricanes, this imbalance would be even greater?
Hurricanes grab built up heat from the equator and carry it outward to the poles, like a great, gusty, equalizer of warmth.
While we may not appreciate its exuberant delivery system, most of us appreciate the abundance of plants we are able to have because of the warmth pushed our way.