— Residents return to battered homes as death toll rises.
Ian is the deadliest storm to strike Florida since the 1930s
Residents of south-west Florida were on Thursday returning for a first look at damage wreaked on their homes by Hurricane Ian, as the storm’s death toll continued to rise and details emerged about the victims.
Inhabitants of Sanibel, Captiva and Pine Island were among the first to get a glimpse after authorities still searching for survivors from the 28 September storm gave the go-ahead for civilians to return.
A steady stream of residents arrived, mostly on small chartered motorboats, after sections of the Sanibel and Pine Island causeways, the only road links to the mainland, were swept away by 150mph winds and a 12ft (3.6 metres) storm surge.
“We feel, as a community, that if we leave the island, abandon it, nobody is going to take care of that problem of fixing our road in and out,” said a Pine Island resident, Leslie Arias.
The Florida medical examiners’ commission released details of how many victims perished.
Officially, 89 people died in Florida from the storm, according to the state department of law enforcement. But the number will grow: an unofficial tally compiled by media outlets has surpassed 120.
That makes it the deadliest storm to strike Florida since the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 claimed more than 430 lives.
The oldest victim of Ian was a 96-year-old man found trapped under a car in high water in Charlotte county, the medical examiners’ report said.
A 73-year-old man in Lee county “shot himself after seeing property damage due to the hurricane”.
In Manatee county, a 71-year-old woman died after being blown over: “The decedent was outside her residence smoking a cigarette when a gust of wind from the hurricane blew her off the porch and she subsequently struck her head on a concrete step.”
Most victims drowned, underlining that the storm surge was the deadliest part of the hurricane.
Not included in the report are five deaths in North Carolina, one in Virginia and three in Cuba, when Ian swept across the west of the island two days before gaining power in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and slamming into the south-western Florida coast.
Authorities in Florida have been criticized for issuing evacuation orders too late, although Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor, and county officials have defended their actions.
DeSantis has claimed, falsely, that Lee county was not yet included in the National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) forecast track 72 hours before the storm hit, and that it was predicted instead to strike Tampa, about 120 miles north.
The NHC “cone of uncertainty” included parts of Lee county during that time frame, including Cayo Costa, where Ian made first landfall.
More than 215,000 customers remained without power across Florida, authorities said, while thousands of workers sought to repair grids.
On Pine Island, piles of rubble and debris have replaced many homes, power lines and wooden poles littering yards and roadways.
In a visit to the worst-hit areas on Thursday, Joe Biden promised the resources of the federal government would be available “as long as it takes”. Some estimates have calculated the damage at $55bn.
The president met local residents, small business owners and relief workers in Fort Myers, praising the cooperation between state and federal agencies.
Noting that the recovery could take months or years, he said: “The only thing I can assure you is that the federal government will be here until it’s finished. After the television cameras have moved on, we’re still going to be here with you.”
DeSantis, seen as a potential rival to Biden in the 2024 presidential election, also struck a conciliatory tone.
“We are cutting through the red tape and that’s from local government, state government, all the way up to the president. We appreciate the team effort,” he said.
By Richard Luscombe
(in Miami for The Guardian)
on land can be devastating, even uplifting houses and cars.
Tropical revolving storms, cyclones, or tornadoes, and hurricanes are
the worst, in many cases causing loss of life - as well as
damage to property and even the loss boats at sea.
few have not marveled at lightning and the force of high
winds blowing down trees and rocking buildings.
'Cleopatra The Mummy,' our hero John
Storm loves battling the elements, man against nature.
Especially, challenging weather conditions at sea. Indeed, John
treats storms as weather experiments, testing the limits of
Swann, where large solar wings present as a weakness in
storm conditions, unless detected and responded to. Thus,
the onboard AI, Hal,
and autonomous navigation program, Captain
Nemo, constantly monitor sea state and wind conditions,
with a weatherfax as a last resort for human crew, who are
Swann's onboard AI would automatically react to changing
weather as they become a threat to the survival of the ship,
unless overridden by the human crew. This would include
folding of the solar wing panels (battening down the
hatches) and in extreme cases, flooding hull tanks to lower
the vessel into the sea, as a serious sea-anchor, which has
the effect of reducing freeboard significantly, as well as
lowering the centre of roll and increasing hull drag.
Elizabeth Swann also has self-righting ability, using a
sequence of flooding and blowing of tanks, should the ship
become inverted. Lastly, the ship includes
"bubble-hulls," cabins and tanks that are sealed
for emergency floatation purposes. If only the Titanic's
bulkheads had gone to deck height, she might not have
A storm is any disturbed state of the natural environment or the atmosphere of an astronomical body. It may be marked by significant disruptions to normal conditions such as strong wind,
tornadoes, hail, thunder and lightning (a thunderstorm), heavy precipitation (snowstorm, rainstorm), heavy freezing rain (ice storm), strong winds (tropical cyclone, windstorm), wind transporting some substance through the atmosphere such as in a dust storm, among other forms of severe weather.
Storms have the potential to harm lives and property via storm surge, heavy rain or snow causing flooding or road impassibility, lightning, wildfires, and vertical and horizontal wind shear. Systems with significant rainfall and duration help alleviate drought in places they move through. Heavy snowfall can allow special recreational activities to take place which would not be possible otherwise, such as
skiing and snowmobiling.
The English word comes from Proto-Germanic *sturmaz meaning "noise, tumult".
Storms are created when a center of low pressure develops with the system of high pressure surrounding it. This combination of opposing forces can create winds and result in the formation of storm clouds such as cumulonimbus. Small localized areas of low pressure can form from hot
air rising off hot ground, resulting in smaller disturbances such as dust devils and whirlwinds.
A strict meteorological definition of a terrestrial storm is a wind measuring 10 or higher on the Beaufort scale, meaning a wind speed of 24.5 m/s (89 km/h, 55 mph) or more; however, popular usage is not so restrictive. Storms can last anywhere from 12 to 200 hours, depending on season and geography. In North America, the east and northeast storms are noted for the most frequent repeatability and duration, especially during the cold period. Big terrestrial storms alter the oceanographic conditions that in turn may affect food abundance and distribution: strong currents, strong tides, increased
silting, change in water temperatures, overturn in the water column, etc.
Waves are created by energy passing through
water, causing it to move in a circular motion. However, water does not actually travel in waves. Waves transmit energy, not water, across the ocean and if not obstructed by anything, they have the potential to travel across an entire ocean basin.
Waves are most commonly caused by wind. Wind-driven waves, or surface waves, are created by the friction between wind and surface water. As wind blows across the surface of the ocean or a lake, the continual disturbance creates a wave crest. These types of waves are found globally across the open ocean and along the coast.
size of waves, measured in height, is directly proportional
to wind speed. Wave height is affected by wind speed, wind duration (or how long the wind blows), and fetch, which is the distance over water that the wind blows in a single direction. If wind speed is slow, only small waves result, regardless of wind duration or fetch. If the wind speed is great but it only blows for a few minutes, no large waves will result even if the wind speed is strong and fetch is unlimited. Also, if strong winds blow for a long period of time but over a short fetch, no large waves form. Large waves occur only when all three factors combine (Duxbury, et al, 2002.)
As wind-driven waves approach the shore, friction between the sea floor and the water causes the water to form increasingly steep angles. Waves that become too steep and unstable are termed “breakers” or “breaking waves.”
In fluid dynamics, a wind wave, water wave, or wind-generated water wave, is a surface wave that occurs on the free surface of bodies of water as a result from the wind blowing over the water surface. The contact distance in the direction of the wind is known as the fetch. Waves in the oceans can travel thousands of kilometres before reaching land. Wind waves on Earth range in size from small ripples, to waves over 30 m (100 ft) high, being limited by wind speed, duration, fetch, and water depth.
More potentially hazardous waves can be caused by severe weather, like a
hurricane. The strong winds and pressure from this type of severe storm causes storm surge, a series of long waves that are created far from shore in deeper water and intensify as they move closer to land.
Other hazardous waves can be caused by underwater disturbances that displace large amounts of water quickly such as earthquakes, landslides, or volcanic eruptions. These very long waves are called tsunamis. Storm surge and tsunamis are not the types of waves you imagine crashing down on the shore. These waves roll upon the shore like a massive
sea level rise and can reach far distances inland.
The gravitational pull of the sun and moon on the earth also causes waves. These waves are tides or, in other words, tidal waves. It is a common misconception that a tidal wave is also a tsunami. The cause of tsunamis are not related to tide information at all but can occur in any tidal state.
While there’s not yet a full consensus on the matter, in recent years a body of evidence linking extreme weather with
climate change has begun to emerge.
A simple analogy describes how difficult it is to attribute extreme weather to climate change. Adding fossil fuel emissions to Earth’s atmosphere increases its temperature, which adds more energy to the atmosphere, supercharging it like an athlete on steroids. And just as it’s difficult to quantify how much of that athlete’s performance improvement is due to steroid use, so too it’s difficult to say whether extreme weather events are definitively due to a warmer atmosphere.
SUPERCHARGED ATLANTIC HURRICANES
A hot topic in extreme weather research is how climate change is impacting the strength of tropical cyclones. A look at the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season provides a case in point.
After a quiet start to the 2019 season, Hurricane Dorian roared through the Atlantic in late August and early September, surprising many forecasters with its unexpected and rapid intensification. In just five days, Dorian grew from a minimal Category 1 hurricane to a Category 5 behemoth, reaching a peak intensity of 185 miles (295 kilometers) per hour when it made landfall in The Bahamas. In the process, Dorian tied an 84-year-old record for strongest landfalling Atlantic hurricane and became the fifth most intense recorded Atlantic hurricane to make landfall, as measured by its barometric pressure.
Two weeks later the remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda swamped parts of Texas under more than 40 inches (102 centimeters) of rain, enough to make it the fifth wettest recorded tropical cyclone to strike the lower 48 states. Fueled by copious moisture from a warm
Mexico, the slow-moving Imelda’s torrential rains and flooding wreaked havoc over a wide region.
Then in late September, Hurricane Lorenzo became the most northerly and easterly Category 5 storm on record in the Atlantic, even affecting the British Isles as an extratropical cyclone.
Earth’s atmosphere and oceans have warmed significantly in recent decades. A warming ocean creates a perfect cauldron for brewing tempests. Hurricanes are fueled by heat in the top layers of the ocean and require sea surface temperatures (SSTs) greater than 79 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius) to form and thrive.
Since 1995 there have been 17 above-normal Atlantic hurricane seasons, as measured by
NOAA’s Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) Index. ACE calculates the intensity of a hurricane season by combining the number, wind speed and duration of each tropical cyclone. That’s the largest stretch of above-normal seasons on record.
So while there aren’t necessarily more Atlantic hurricanes than before, those that form appear to be getting stronger, with more Category 4 and 5 events.
One NASA study from late 2018 supports the notion that global warming is causing the number of extreme storms to increase, at least over Earth’s tropical oceans (between 30 degrees North and South of the equator).
A team led by JPL’s Hartmut Aumann, AIRS project scientist from 1993 to 2012, analyzed 15 years of AIRS data, looking for correlations between average SSTs and the formation of extreme storms. They defined extreme storms as those producing at least 0.12 inches (3 millimeters) of rain per hour over a certain-sized area. They found that extreme storms formed when SSTs were hotter than 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius). The team also saw that for every 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) that SST increased, the number of extreme storms went up by about 21 percent. Based on current climate model projections, the researchers concluded that extreme storms may increase 60 percent by the year 2100.
A tsunami is a series of extremely long waves caused by a large and sudden displacement of the ocean, usually the result of an earthquake below or near the ocean floor. This force creates waves that radiate outward in all directions away from their source, sometimes crossing entire ocean basins. Unlike wind-driven waves, which only travel through the topmost layer of the ocean, tsunamis move through the entire water column, from the ocean floor to the ocean surface.
EFFECTS ON HUMANS
Shipwrecks are common with the passage of strong tropical cyclones. Such shipwrecks can change the course of history, as well as influence art and literature. A hurricane led to a victory of the Spanish over the French for control of Fort Caroline, and ultimately the Atlantic coast of North America, in 1565.
Strong winds from any storm type can damage or destroy vehicles, buildings, bridges, and other outside objects, turning loose debris into deadly flying projectiles. In the United States, major hurricanes comprise just 21% of all landfalling tropical cyclones, but account for 83% of all damage. Tropical cyclones often knock out power to tens or hundreds of thousands of people, preventing vital communication and hampering rescue efforts. Tropical cyclones often destroy key bridges, overpasses, and roads, complicating efforts to transport food, clean water, and medicine to the areas that need it. Furthermore, the damage caused by tropical cyclones to buildings and dwellings can result in economic damage to a region, and to a diaspora of the population of the region.
The storm surge, or the increase in sea level due to the cyclone, is typically the worst effect from landfalling tropical cyclones, historically resulting in 90% of tropical cyclone deaths. The relatively quick surge in sea level can move miles/kilometers inland, flooding homes and cutting off escape routes. The storm surges and winds of hurricanes may be destructive to human-made structures, but they also stir up the waters of coastal estuaries, which are typically important fish breeding locales.
Cloud-to-ground lightning frequently occurs within the phenomena of thunderstorms and have numerous hazards towards landscapes and populations. One of the more significant hazards lightning can pose is the wildfires they are capable of igniting. Under a regime of low precipitation (LP) thunderstorms, where little precipitation is present, rainfall cannot prevent fires from starting when vegetation is dry as lightning produces a concentrated amount of extreme heat. Wildfires can devastate vegetation and the biodiversity of an ecosystem.
Wildfires that occur close to urban environments can inflict damages upon infrastructures, buildings, crops, and provide risks to explosions, should the flames be exposed to gas pipes. Direct damage caused by lightning strikes occurs on occasion. In areas with a high frequency for cloud-to-ground lightning, like Florida, lightning causes several fatalities per year, most commonly to people working outside.
Lightning is 10 times more likely to occur than at sea.
Hail damage to roofs often goes unnoticed until further structural damage is seen, such as leaks or cracks. It is hardest to recognize hail damage on shingled roofs and flat roofs, but all roofs have their own hail damage detection problems. Metal roofs are fairly resistant to hail damage, but may accumulate cosmetic damage in the form of dents and damaged coatings. Hail is also a common nuisance to drivers of automobiles, severely denting the vehicle and cracking or even shattering windshields and windows. Rarely, massive hailstones have been known to cause concussions or fatal head trauma. Hailstorms have been the cause of costly and deadly events throughout history. One of the earliest recorded incidents occurred around the 9th century in Roopkund, Uttarakhand, India. The largest hailstone in terms of diameter and weight ever recorded in the United States fell on July 23, 2010 in Vivian, South Dakota in the United States; it measured 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter and 18.62 inches (47.3 cm) in circumference, weighing in at 1.93 pounds (0.88 kg). This broke the previous record for diameter set by a hailstone 7 inches (18 cm) diameter and 18.75 inches (47.6 cm) circumference which fell in Aurora, Nebraska in the United States on June 22, 2003, as well as the record for weight, set by a hailstone of 1.67 pounds (0.76 kg) that fell in Coffeyville, Kansas in 1970.
Various hazards, ranging from hail to lightning can affect outside technology facilities, such as antennas, satellite dishes, and towers. As a result, companies with outside facilities have begun installing such facilities underground, in order to reduce the risk of damage from storms.
Precipitation with low potential of hydrogen levels (pH), otherwise known as acid rain, is also a frequent risk produced by lightning. Distilled water, which contains no carbon dioxide, has a neutral pH of 7. Liquids with a pH less than 7 are acidic, and those with a pH greater than 7 are bases. "Clean" or unpolluted rain has a slightly acidic pH of about 5.2, because carbon dioxide and water in the air react together to form carbonic acid, a weak acid (pH 5.6 in distilled water), but unpolluted rain also contains other chemicals. Nitric oxide present during thunderstorm phenomena, caused by the splitting of nitrogen molecules, can result in the production of
rain, if nitric oxide forms compounds with the water molecules in precipitation, thus creating acid rain. Acid rain can damage infrastructures containing calcite or other solid chemical compounds containing carbon. In ecosystems, acid rain can dissolve plant tissues of vegetations and increase acidification process in bodies of water and in soil, resulting in deaths of marine and terrestrial organisms.
Substantial snowfall can disrupt public infrastructure and services, slowing human activity even in regions that are accustomed to such weather.
Air and ground transport may be greatly inhibited or shut down entirely. Populations living in snow-prone areas have developed various ways to travel across the snow, such as skis, snowshoes, and sleds pulled by horses, dogs, or other animals and later, snowmobiles. Basic utilities such as
electricity, telephone lines, and gas supply can also fail. In addition, snow can make roads much harder to travel and vehicles attempting to use them can easily become stuck.
The combined effects can lead to a "snow day" on which gatherings such as school, work, or church are officially canceled. In areas that normally have very little or no snow, a snow day may occur when there is only light accumulation or even the threat of snowfall, since those areas are unprepared to handle any amount of snow. In some areas, such as some states in the United States, schools are given a yearly quota of snow days (or "calamity days"). Once the quota is exceeded, the snow days must be made up. In other states, all snow days must be made up. For example, schools may extend the remaining school days later into the afternoon, shorten spring break, or delay the start of summer vacation.
Accumulated snow is removed to make travel easier and safer, and to decrease the long-term effect of a heavy snowfall. This process utilizes shovels and snowplows, and is often assisted by sprinkling salt or other chloride-based chemicals, which reduce the melting temperature of snow. In some areas with abundant snowfall, such as Yamagata Prefecture, Japan, people harvest snow and store it surrounded by insulation in ice houses. This allows the snow to be used through the summer for refrigeration and air conditioning, which requires far less electricity than traditional cooling methods.
Hail is one of the most significant thunderstorm hazards to aircraft. When hail stones exceed 0.5 inches (13 mm) in diameter, planes can be seriously damaged within seconds. The hailstones accumulating on the ground can also be hazardous to landing aircraft. Strong wind outflow from thunderstorms causes rapid changes in the three-dimensional wind velocity just above ground level. Initially, this outflow causes a headwind that increases airspeed, which normally causes a pilot to reduce engine power if they are unaware of the wind shear. As the aircraft passes into the region of the downdraft, the localized headwind diminishes, reducing the aircraft's airspeed and increasing its sink rate. Then, when the aircraft passes through the other side of the downdraft, the headwind becomes a tailwind, reducing lift generated by the wings, and leaving the aircraft in a low-power, low-speed descent. This can lead to an accident if the aircraft is too low to effect a recovery before ground contact.
As the result of the accidents in the 1970s and 1980s, in 1988 the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration mandated that all commercial aircraft have on-board wind shear detection systems by 1993. Between 1964 and 1985, wind shear directly caused or contributed to 26 major civil transport aircraft accidents in the U.S. that led to 620 deaths and 200 injuries. Since 1995, the number of major civil aircraft accidents caused by wind shear has dropped to approximately one every ten years, due to the mandated on-board detection as well as the addition of Doppler weather radar units on the ground.
IN THE MOVIES
The 1926 silent film The Johnstown Flood features the Great Flood of 1889 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The flood, caused by the catastrophic failure of the South Fork Dam after days of extremely heavy rainfall, prompted the first major disaster relief effort by the American Red Cross, directed by Clara Barton. The Johnstown Flood was depicted in numerous other media (both fictional and in non-fiction), as well.
Warner Bros.' 2000 dramatic disaster film The Perfect
Storm, directed by Wolfgang Petersen, is an adaptation of Sebastian Junger's 1997 non-fiction book of the same title. The book and film feature the crew of the Andrea Gail, which got caught in the Perfect Storm of 1991. The 1991 Perfect Storm, also known as the Halloween Nor'easter of 1991, was a nor'easter that absorbed Hurricane Grace and ultimately evolved into a small hurricane late in its life cycle.
Storms do not only occur on Earth; other planetary bodies with a sufficient atmosphere (gas giants in particular) also undergo stormy weather. The Great Red Spot on Jupiter provides a well-known example. Though technically an anticyclone, with greater than hurricane wind speeds, it is larger than the Earth and has persisted for at least 340 years, having first been observed by astronomer Galileo Galilei. Neptune also had its own lesser-known Great Dark Spot.
In September 1994, the Hubble Space Telescope – using Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 – imaged storms on Saturn generated by upwelling of warmer air, similar to a terrestrial thunderhead. The east-west extent of the same-year storm equalled the diameter of Earth. The storm was observed earlier in September 1990 and acquired the name Dragon Storm.
The dust storms of Mars vary in size, but can often cover the entire planet. They tend to occur when Mars comes closest to the Sun, and have been shown to increase the global temperature.
One particularly large Martian storm was exhaustively studied up close due to coincidental timing. When the first spacecraft to successfully orbit another planet, Mariner 9, arrived and successfully orbited Mars on 14 November 1971, planetary scientists were surprised to find the atmosphere was thick with a planet-wide robe of dust, the largest storm ever observed on Mars. The surface of the planet was totally obscured. Mariner 9's computer was reprogrammed from Earth to delay imaging of the surface for a couple of months until the dust settled, however, the surface-obscured images contributed much to the collection of Mars atmospheric and planetary surface science.
Two extrasolar planets are known to have storms: HD 209458 b and HD 80606 b. The former's storm was discovered on June 23, 2010 and measured at 6,200 km/h (3,900 mph), while the latter produces winds of 17,700 km/h (11,000 mph) across the surface. The spin of the planet then creates giant swirling shock-wave storms that carry the heat aloft.