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Red Alert has been issued by the Met Office for south-east and eastern coastal districts of Scotland and north-east England

Red Alert has been issued by the Met Office for south-east and eastern coastal districts of Scotland and north-east England

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Courtesy of Met Office

Hurricane Ida: New Orleans braces for possible direct hit; Currently over Western Cuba

The mayor of New Orleans has called for residents to evacuate unprotected city neighbourhoods as Hurricane Ida bears down on the Louisiana coastline.

“Now is the time,” said New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell in a Friday news conference, calling for those living outside the city levee system to flee.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) says Ida is likely to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane by Sunday.

It has already brought heavy rain and high winds to western Cuba.

The impact of climate change on the frequency of storms is still unclear, but we know that increased sea surface temperatures warm the air above and make more energy available to drive hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons. As a result, they are likely to be more intense with more extreme rainfall.

Forecasters say the hurricane will be at category 3 strength by the time it reaches the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday.

The NHC says a category 3 storm will cause devastating damage to well-built houses, with trees uprooted. Electricity and water will be unavailable for at least several days after the storm passes.

Ida passed over western Cuba on Friday, hitting the Isle of Youth with maximum sustained winds of 75mph (120km/h).

Coincidentally, Sunday marks the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a category 3 hurricane which devastated New Orleans in 2005. Katrina flooded 80% of the city and killed more than 1,800 people.

Dangerous storm surges are also forecast both in Cuba and the US. Experts say that if they hit at a time that coincides with high tides, sea water could flood over the New Orleans levee system and into the city.

The levees are a system of flood walls, built to protect low-lying New Orleans, and strengthened after the devastation of 2005.

Warm waters across the Gulf of Mexico are fuelling the storm’s rapid intensification, the agency said, adding that flooding could also affect the neighbouring states of Mississippi and Alabama.

“Steady to rapid strengthening is expected when Ida moves over the south-eastern and central Gulf of Mexico over the weekend, and Ida is expected to be a major hurricane when it approaches the northern Gulf coast,” said the NHC bulletin issued on Friday afternoon.

Governor Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency and called for anyone along the state’s coastline to shelter in place starting on Saturday evening. The White House has said that the federal government is also making emergency aid plans.

Courtesy of BBC News

https://tinyurl.com/4z7nvsbw

China shuts down ports, cancels flights as Typhoon In-Fa nears

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China has shut down railways and ports, with cargo ships ordered out of the sea and flights cancelled, before Typhoon In-Fa’s expected landfall.

The storm is projected to hit the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang near Shanghai late on Sunday, just as other parts of the country struggle to recover from devastating floods earlier this week.

In-Fa had sustained winds of 155km per hour (95 miles per hour) with gusts up to 191kmph (120mph) as it moved northwest away from Taiwan, where it caused high waves and heavy rain but there were no reports of deaths or injuries.

Schools, markets and businesses in Zhejiang were ordered to close, the official Xinhua news agency said, adding that road traffic would be suspended when necessary.

Authorities have issued a level III alert – the third-highest – for In-Fa, while more than 100 trains travelling through the region have been cancelled, according to China Railway.

Shanghai authorities closed some public parks and museums and warned residents on Saturday to “stop large-scale outdoor gatherings” and to stay indoors.

The airport in the provincial capital of Hangzhou, southwest of Shanghai, cancelled 90 percent of flights on Sunday and was expected to cancel more on Monday, the newspaper Zhejiang Daily reported on its website.

Meanwhile, all container ship docks were shut down from Yangshan Port south of Shanghai and 150 vessels including passenger ships and cargo vessels were evacuated from the area.

Courtesy of aljazeera.com

https://tinyurl.com/w6e4m4zm

Storm leaves 3 dead, displaces thousands in Philippines

Tropical Storm Alert_1

A tropical storm left at least three people dead and displaced thousands of villagers in the southern and central Philippines, where it triggered floods and landslides, officials said Wednesday.

Forecasters said the storm Choi-wan was blowing off Victoria town in Oriental Mindoro province south of Manila on Wednesday afternoon with sustained winds of 65 kilometers (40 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 90 kph (56 mph). It was moving northwestward and may weaken as it blows toward the South China Sea on Thursday, they said.

At least three people died, including a 14-year-old villager who rushed with her father to a riverbank to rescue their farm animals in intense rain but were swept away by strong currents in Norala town in South Cotabato province. The father remains missing, disaster response officials said.

A baby died in a landslide that hit a mountainous town in southern Davao de Oro province and a 71-year-old man drowned in Davao del Sur province, also in the south, officials said.

Coast guard personnel rescued villagers who were trapped in houses engulfed in rising floodwater, including in Southern Leyte province, where they carried 40 residents, including children, in waist-deep waters to a gymnasium.

More than 2,600 people were displaced, mostly by floods, in 18 southern villages, including about 600 villagers who moved to evacuation centers. Thousands more were evacuated Tuesday from towns prone to floods and volcanic mudflows in Albay province, provincial safety official Cedric Daep said.

Officials also suspended work in Albay and ordered shopping malls closed to prevent people from converging and increasing the risk of coronavirus infections, Daep said.

More than 3,000 passengers and cargo handlers were stranded in central and southern seaports after sea travel was suspended by the coast guard due to stormy weather. A small cargo ship laden with sand and gravel was abandoned by its crew when it started to take in water near Albuera town in central Leyte province. The crew was safe, coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo said.

About 20 tropical storms and typhoons batter the Philippine archipelago each year. The Southeast Asian nation is also located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, a seismically active region where volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur frequently, making it one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.

Courtesy of abcnews.go.com

https://tinyurl.com/jfxbr2t6

India lashed by strongest cyclone to ever hit west coast as it reels from Covid disaster

Cyclone Warning Alert

India was slammed on Monday by the strongest storm on record to reach its west coast, hampering authorities’ response to the Covid-19 crisis in some of the country’s hardest hit regions.

Tropical Cyclone Tauktae, a storm with wind speeds equivalent to a high-end Category 3 hurricane that formed in the Arabian Sea, made landfall Monday night local time in Gujarat. It strengthened slightly as it hit the western state with maximum sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour (125 mph), according to the United States’ Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

By Tuesday morning, it had weakened from an “extremely severe cyclonic storm” to a “severe cyclonic storm,” according to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).

Photos and videos show highways turned into rivers by the heavy rain, and trees and power lines toppled by ferocious winds. The cyclone has killed at least 26 people across the coastal states of Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, according to state authorities.

The deaths were due to drowning at sea, house collapses, lightning strikes and other accidents linked to the severe weather, according to states’ disaster management authorities.

This comes as India reels from its second wave of coronavirus, which has infected millions and killed tens of thousands since it began in mid-March. Though daily case figures began declining over the past week, Covid-related deaths continue to break record highs and the crisis is far from over — especially in rural areas with fewer resources and medical supplies.

Covid patients were among the hundreds of thousands evacuated from low-lying areas this week as the region braced for the cyclone’s arrival. In Mumbai, 580 patients from makeshift care centers were moved to various hospitals on Friday and Saturday, according to the city’s municipal corporation.

It’s not the first time India has dealt with natural disasters during the pandemic — last year, the country faced cyclones in late May and early June that also prompted mass evacuations.

Back then, however, India’s cases were still relatively low, at fewer than 10,000 a day, and the country was emerging from a stringent lockdown.

This time, India is the global epicenter of the pandemic. Its health care system has collapsed and patients are still dying from shortages of oxygen and other supplies. The government is more fragile and under greater scrutiny than before, as it struggles to contain the outbreak while facing heavy criticism both at home and overseas.

And the cyclone could be just the harbinger of more disaster to come, as India’s months-long monsoon season approaches.

Courtesy of cnn.com

https://tinyurl.com/4rcmywuy