Hurricane Ian sweeps across Florida, “catastrophic” consequences are expected
Florida on Wednesday eagerly awaited the arrival of Category 4 Hurricane Ian, which is “intensifying rapidly” and could be “catastrophic” after devastating western Cuba, according to the US weather services.
Ian is expected to cause “catastrophic flooding, storms and flooding across the Florida Peninsula,” the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest bulletin.
With persistent wind speeds of up to 250 km/h and even “higher” gusts, Ian is heading for the west coast of Florida, where he is expected in the early afternoon local time. The hurricane is then expected to “move over land” during the day and “appear over the western Atlantic by Thursday evening.”
According to the NHC, between 30 and 45 cm of precipitation is expected in central and northeast Florida, with up to 60 cm in some places.
“This is a major storm,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference Wednesday morning, warning that Ian could make landfall as a Category 5 hurricane, the highest category on the Saffir-Simpson scale.
“Clearly, this is a very strong hurricane that will have far-reaching consequences,” he said.
Evacuation orders were issued overnight for a dozen coastal counties, and according to Ron DeSantis, these were generally obeyed in these very sensitive areas, “but maybe not by all.”
The governor warned the day would be “very, very difficult” and asked people not to go outside during the passage of the hurricane’s eye.
“There is actually no wind when the center of the hurricane is over you. Do you think the storm is over? He’s not. He’s still very dangerous.”
– “Destructive” –
On Tuesday, Joe Biden also warned that Ian “could be a very severe hurricane, the effects of which would be devastating and endanger life.”
The US President has already approved federal emergency aid for 24 of Florida’s 67 counties.
“Obviously, the closer he gets, the greater the fear of the unknown,” observed Chelsea Thompson, 30, who helped her parents secure their home in an evacuation zone southwest of Tampa on Tuesday.
Activities are halted in areas where the hurricane is expected. Tampa Airport, for example, ceased operations late Tuesday afternoon.
According to the Pentagon, 3,000 National Guard men are mobilized in Florida, with 1,800 more on the way.
NASA had given up Tuesday’s planned launch of its new mega rocket to the moon from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Hurricane Ian, then in Category 3, hit Cuba earlier on Tuesday, devastating the west of the country for five hours before heading for the Gulf of Mexico, according to Cuba’s Insmet Meteorological Institute.
According to Cuban state media, two people were killed in the western province of Pinar del Rio and the island was plunged into total darkness.
The country with 11.2 million inhabitants was “without electricity supply”, tweeted the state-owned electricity company Union Eléctrica.
As the sea surface warms, the frequency of the strongest hurricanes with stronger winds and greater precipitation increases, but not the total number of hurricanes.
Hurricanes are also spreading in previously spared areas. According to the IPCC (August 2021 report), the proportion of particularly intense hurricanes (category 4 and 5) should increase by 10% compared to the pre-industrial age with a warming of +1.5 °C, at +2 °C by 13% C and 30 % at +4°C.
In particular, they pose an increasing risk to coastal communities, which are victims of submersion phenomena (also called sea submersion), which are exacerbated by sea level rise, leading to flooding and salinization of land and water.
According to the IPCC, more than a billion people will live in vulnerable coastal cities by 2050 due to rising sea levels and ocean floods.
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