Tropical Storm Elsa becomes first hurricane of 2021 and heads toward Florida
Tropical Storm Elsa strengthened into the first hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic season on Friday morning and could hit Florida as soon as Sunday evening.
Elsa’s winds reached neared 75 miles per hour, qualifying it as a Category 1 hurricane, according to an advisory issued around 11am by the National Hurricane Center. At the time, Hurricane Elsa was about 5 miles south of St Vincent and was heading northwest at 29 mph.
A hurricane warning was issued for St Vincent, Barbados, St Lucia and the Grenadines. Schools, businesses were closed in St Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as an international airport. Barbados also saw closures as it was battered with heavy rain and wind on Thursday night.
Parts of Florida and the Florida Keys are at risk of storm surge, heavy rainfall and wind. The possible severe weather in the region could start to dissipate by Monday night, according to AccuWeather.
‘Impacts to the contiguous United States would begin Monday night at the earliest after the system passes through the Caribbean,’ AccuWeather senior meteorologist Adam Douty told USA Today. ‘Residents from the central Gulf Coast, across Florida and to the Carolina coast should monitor the progress of Elsa.’
On Friday morning, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that the southern part of the state could experience tropical storm-grade winds as early as Sunday night. DeSantis said he was working on a possible emergency order.
On Elsa’s path is not only Florida, but also Georgia and South Carolina.
The first hurricane during the Atlantic season usually forms around August 10, according to University of Georgia meteorologist Marshall Shepherd in Forbes. Elsa is the earliest E, or fifth storm of the season, on record, coming sooner than Eduardo which formed on July 6 last year.
It is possible that Elsa could veer north and weaken, according the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network said.
Courtesy of metro.co.uk
Storm leaves 3 dead, displaces thousands in Philippines
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
Tropical storm Chalane lands in Mozambique
A powerful tropical storm made landfall near the central Mozambique city of Beira early on Wednesday, bringing heavy rain and wind to an area devastated by Cyclone Idai nearly two years ago.
Beira, a low-lying coastal city of 500,000 people, is home to Mozambique’s second-largest port, which serves as a gateway to landlocked countries in the region.
The government had asked people living in the path of tropical storm Chalane and near rivers to move to safer areas.
Chalane had maximum sustained winds of 85 km/h with gusts exceeding 120 km/h, according to an update issued by the French weather service’s regional cyclone centre in La Reunion.
“The storm is now tracking inland through central Mozambique and is moving towards Zimbabwe. Government and humanitarian partners hope to begin evaluating the first impacts of the storm as soon as this afternoon,” Helvisney Cardoso, United Nations Mozambique Communications Specialist, said in a statement.
International aid agencies say that tens of thousands of people are still displaced from Idai and living in camps.
The Mozambican government was meeting to assess the impact of the storm and how it would respond.
In Zimbabwe, the government had started evacuating people from eastern parts of the country, where thousands were displaced by Cyclone Idai.
Zimbabwe’s Meteorological Services Department said there was high risk of flooding in the region.
Courtesy of in.reuters.com
Typhoon Goni devastates the Philippines
Typhoon Goni (“Rolly”), the most powerful storm in the world this year, tore through the heavilypopulated centre of the Philippines over the weekend. Government reports show that at least 20 have been killed, though this number is likely to rise as communications are slowly restored between its island provinces.
The storm made landfall as a super typhoon on the eastern island province of Catanduanes at 4:50 am on Sunday with sustained maximum wind speeds of 310kph (195mph) recorded in the turbulent eyewall of the storm, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre. As measured by one-minute average winds, it is the strongest typhoon to make landfall ever recorded in the world.
At least six people died in Catanduanes, and the island is without electricity, water or a cellular network. Provincial governor Joseph Cua told a news conference: “While there’s no more typhoon, we have no air and sea transportation.” The hashtag #NasaanAngCatanduanes or “Where is Catanduanes” has been trending on twitter to encourage recommunication with the area.
An emergency telecommunications team was deployed Monday, along with initial deliveries of food packs.
Cua reported that more than 13,000 homes on the island were damaged with some withstanding a five-metre storm surge. According to a “visual” assessment of the damage from ground level, the Red Cross has suggested that “80 to 90 per cent” of the easternmost town of Virac—home to 70,000 people—had been damaged by the storm.
The storm weakened as it travelled west over the Bicol region—the southern part of the main island of Luzon and the most populous area of the Philippines. Bringing floodwaters, toppling trees and triggering mudslides, it barrelled through the provinces of Albay through to Batangas, just south of the capital Manila, before heading towards the South China Sea.
The storm displaced 382,381 people and left 53,863 homes without electricity, according to government figures. The municipalities of Camarines Sur and Cavite were declared in a state of calamity following the storm. As of yesterday, 165 cities in Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol Region and Eastern Visayas are still experiencing power outages.
Over 50 sections of road are affected by flooding, landslides and uprooted trees throughout the island of Luzon, with 37 still impassable.
Summing up the cost estimates of rebuilding the worst affected areas of Camarines Sur, Metropolitan Manila, Quezon, Cavite and Camarines Norte, the UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported $136 billion in damages, making it among the costliest storms in history.
The storm is a product of unusually warm waters as a result of the La Nina weather event, a phase of the vast oceanic and atmospheric cycle in the Pacific that drives warm surface waters to East Asia, with a resultant upwelling of colder water along the western coast of South America. Sea temperatures in the region where Goni formed are 30 to 31 degrees Celsius, which can lead to very powerful and unpredictable weather events.
Additionally, there is a trend of increasing major natural disasters due to climate change. A 2018 paper by Bhatia et al., “Projected Response of Tropical Cyclone Intensity and Intensification in a Global Climate Model” predicts a multiplication of destructive category 5 tropical cyclones towards the end of the century. From one Super Typhoon similar to Goni every eight years on a global scale, the occurrence is predicted to increase to one every year between 2081 to 2100.
The tropical archipelago of the Philippines is particularly vulnerable to this process, which routinely experiences around 20 storms and typhoons each year. The last storm, Typhoon Molave, passed through the same region last week killing 22 people.
The country is now on alert for Storm Siony (“Atsani”) likely to become a typhoon and make landfall on Thursday, though this time in the far north of Luzon island. The state weather agency forecasts two to three more typhoons to enter the Philippines in November and another one to two in December.
The UN reported around 68.6 million, or roughly 65 percent of the population are affected by Typhoon Goni, with 24.3 million living in the worst affected areas. Of that number, 2.3 million, including 724,000 children, are classed as “vulnerable”. Those most affected are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and other diseases in crowded evacuation centres, or face delayed and inadequate rescue efforts due to the lack of resources.
As of November 2, 385,400 COVID-19 infections have been recorded in the Philippines, with 7,269 deaths, the second-highest in south-east Asia. In order to establish Covid-secure emergency shelters, schools, gyms and government-run evacuation centres were requisitioned, with individual tents provided inside for families.
The mayor of Infanta town in Quezon province, Filipino Grace America, told DZBB radio that “because of the Covid-19 pandemic, our funds for calamity concerns and expenses are insufficient.”
President Rodrigo Duterte flew to Guinobatan municipality in Albay Province on Monday, where more than 300 houses are buried under volcanic debris. Residents blamed the mudslide on quarrying operations on the slopes of Mt. Mayon, which had contributed to similar avalanches in previous weather events.
According to the Philippine Inquirer, Duterte initially dismissed the residents’ concerns saying Bicol would always be in harm’s way, “as long as it is facing the Pacific Ocean and a volcano is here.”
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, accompanying Duterte asked, “Who owns the quarry sites?”
To which a resident shot back, “Politicians!”
Later, bowing to public pressure, 12 groups operating in the area had their permits suspended. It was discovered that operators had left stockpiles on rivers which contributed to debris damage in flooding.
Courtesy of wsws.org
Storm Eta lashes Nicaragua with rain, sparking deadly mudslides
Tropical Storm Eta is spinning through northern Nicaragua after lashing the country’s Caribbean coast for much of the past day, with floodwater isolating already remote communities and setting off deadly landslides that killed at least three people.
The storm has weakened from the Category 4 hurricane that battered the coast, but it is moving so slowly and dumping so much rain that much of Central America is on high alert.
On Wednesday morning, Eta had sustained winds of 45mph and was 125 miles north-north-east of Managua, moving westward at 7mph.
The long-term forecast shows the storm taking a turn over Central America and then reforming in the Caribbean, possibly reaching Cuba on Sunday and Florida on Monday.
Eta came ashore on Tuesday afternoon south of Puerto Cabezas, also know as Bilwi, after stalling just off the coast for hours.
The city of about 60,000 had been without power since Monday evening. Corrugated metal roofing and uprooted trees were scattered through its streets, and 20,000 of residents were in shelters.
About 100 miles west of where Eta made landfall, two gold miners were killed when a mountainside unleashed tons of mud. A third miner escaped the slide and sought help.
One body was recovered before rescuers had to suspend recovery efforts due to nightfall and there were fears that more slides could occur as the rain continued, said Cesar Malespin of Bonanza Fire Department.
The storm also drenched neighbouring Honduras, and the country reported its first storm-related death on Tuesday. A 12-year-old girl died in a mudslide in San Pedro Sula, the main population centre in northern Honduras, said Marvin Aparicio of the emergency management agency.
In Honduras, at least 559 people had to move to shelters or go to relatives’ homes to escape flooding, he said, and at least 25 people had been rescued. His agency reported at least six rivers causing significant flooding.
Forecasters said central and northern Nicaragua and much of Honduras could get 15in to 25in of rain, with 35in in isolated areas. Heavy rain is also likely in eastern Guatemala, southern Belize and Jamaica.
Courtesy of centralfifetimes.com