Hurricane Ian caused “catastrophic” flooding and power outages in Florida, where it arrived yesterday after passing through Cuba, leaving two dead. The winds caused by the phenomenon went from 56 km/h to 240 km/h in an interval of just under three hours, reaching the United States territory in category 4.
It lost intensity during the night, when the intensity of the winds dropped to 120 km/h and the hurricane was downgraded to category 1 by the country’s NHC (National Hurricane Center).
In Naplesin southwest Florida, images of the canal MSNBC showed streets completely flooded and cars floating in the current, while in Fort Myers floods turned some neighborhoods into lakes. In addition, across the state, about two million homes were left without electricity.
Now, the Ian is expected to travel through the interior of the state, emerge over the Atlantic Ocean and end up affecting the states of Georgia and South Carolina, according to NHC predictions.
This year, the hurricane season, which runs from June to November, has been considered to be of low intensity in terms of number of events, compared to previous periods. However, the movement and rapid growth of Hurricane Ian, the fourth of the season, shows how uncontrollable the emergence of major deadly hurricanes is.
In a very short time, the tropical storm, formed in the Caribbean Sea, became a category 4 hurricane, the penultimate on the scale that goes from 1 to 5. Until then, only 6% of hurricanes showed this rapid intensification.
Ian is already considered one of the strongest to hit Florida in all of history. The arrival of Category 4 hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico is not common, meteorologists note. The last recorded was the Charley, 16 years ago, which hit the east coast in the same category.
Some regions of Florida record floods of more than 5 meters in height. An effect that should last longer, although the hurricane has dropped to category 1. An extra reason that puts the authorities on alert is that much of the population has not left the areas of greatest risk, even after repeated warnings.
Scientists have warned that the warming of ocean waters and terrestrial temperature tend to increase the frequency of extreme weather phenomena. This paradigm shift requires a reinforcement of the authorities’ reaction capacity in order to protect the populations in the path of these hurricanes.
In addition to Hurricane Ian, Typhoon Noru, which hit Vietnam yesterday, showed the same pattern – a rapid burst in wind strength, moving from Category 1 to 5 within hours.
*With information from AFP and RFI