Hurricane Ian left Florida battered and broken. The hurricane hit Florida as a Category 4 hurricane after battering the West Coast of Cuba. Cubans were left in the dark as millions lost power and tobacco farm battered. It gained in strength before it reached Florida. And it left behind massive destruction.
Billions of dollars in damages in Florida only, and at least 21 dead. That number is expected to rise. As people try to make sense of their lives, scientists claim that Ian was made worse by climate change.
Hurricane Ian leaves a trail of devastation in its wake
A large part of Florida took cover as Hurricane Ian approached its shores. However, the hurricane arrived as a Category 4. It had winds of at least 240 km per hour and a storm surge of 5.5 metres. Floridians, while being used to hurricanes, have compared the damage left by Ian to a ‘war-zone.’
In Florida roads are flooded, houses destroyed, and flattened. Boats tossed into piles and piers are destroyed. Naples, Florida has seen its historic pier destroyed. Millions have lost everything. Their homes, their livelihoods.
2.6 million homes and businesses across Florida lost power. Many waited to evacuate until the last minute. No one could have expected Hurricane Ian to fill the streets with waist-deep water.
If people and their homes were lucky to survive the storm, the people living on Sanibel Island were not so lucky.
Indeed, the little islands of Sanibel and Captiva where 6,300 people live ended up completely cut off from Florida’s mainland. The causeway is the only link to the mainland. It was ripped away by the storm. It left dozens of people left stranded on the island, with two confirmed dead.
Moreover, the storm caused important damage on Sanibel Island. Beachside homes were destroyed in the passage of the storm. Homes damaged and flooded. Roofs flown away in the storm. The mayor of Sanibel Island reported that the damage had made the island un-liveable at the moment. Many were rescued or evacuated from Sanibel Island. It will be days before they can start rebuilding and picking up their lives.
South Carolina in Ian’s path
Now Hurricane Ian is on another path of destruction. Indeed, after ravaging Cuba leaving behind 11 million without electricity, and millions displaced in Florida, hurricane Ian is on its way to South Carolina. It was thought that hurricane Ian would hit South Carolina as a post-tropical cyclone. However, it regained strength and went on to become a Category 1 hurricane.
In South Carolina 180,000 homes lost power. 50,000 in North Carolina. While the hurricane is already less powerful than when it cut across Florida, the residents of the Carolinas are still bracing for the impact of the storm.
The cities of Georgetown and Charleston are expected to take the brunt of the storm. Even after Ian leaves the Carolinas it is expected to move up to Virginia. It should dissipate shortly after. However, the danger is not over, even for Florida.
As Ian’s extreme rainfall fell across the states, flood warnings are in order. Rivers are expected to overflow. Moreover, tornado watch is in effect from Myrtle Beach, North Carolina to Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Billions of dollars in damages have resulted from the passage of Hurricane Ian. President Biden spoke out on the disaster caused by Ian. “We’re just beginning to see the scale of that destruction,” he said on Friday from the White House.
Was Hurricane Ian made worse by climate change?
Hurricane Ian is one of a series of natural disasters made worse by climate change. Florida is a state used to hurricanes. It has suffered many over the centuries. However, it seems that the hurricanes are becoming stronger and stronger. They cause more damage each time. Ian is the fifth-strongest hurricane to ever hit the US.
Climate change seems to be one of the reasons that hurricanes intensity so much. And therefore become so destructive.
Hurricanes start to form over warm ocean waters. They then gain in strength over the moisture and humidity in the air. As the storm rotates faster and faster it creates an eye in the centre. At 74 miles per hour, it becomes a hurricane.
The warming waters fuelled by climate change give hurricanes more energy and they therefore become more deadly. With more energy the rain they bring comes down harder and the waves they cause are bigger. Not only that but the hotter oceans have been slowing the hurricanes down. This means that they spend longer on land and cause more destruction.
In the last six years Florida has seen six category 4 hurricanes hit. It is clear today that hurricanes are becoming more deadly. That is all due to the increase in ocean waters. This is manmade. Soon humans will be the only ones to blame for the destruction caused by these rapidly intensifying hurricanes.