The death toll from Tropical Storm Ian remained unclear early Thursday after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said it brought “historic” damage to the state, hours after President Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Florida amid what the National Hurricane Center described as “catastrophic flooding” over east and central parts of the state.
“We’ve never seen a flood event like this,” DeSantis said.
Two people were reported dead Thursday, though DeSantis said it was still unconfirmed whether their deaths were storm-related or if they died amid the storm from other causes. Local officials reported that a 34-year-old man died in Martin County, just north of Palm Beach, and a 72-year-old man died in Volusia County on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. The Lee County sheriff said Thursday he believed “hundreds” might be dead after the storm made landfall to the north, though no numbers have been confirmed as search and rescue efforts are underway.
Here’s what to know
Thursday ReadsPosted: September 29, 2022 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, just because | Tags: Climate change, Florida, Hurricane Ian, hurricanes, weather 15 Comments
It’s pretty clear that Hurricane Ian did catastrophic damage in Florida, although there still isn’t much specific reporting on it. The images on TV are horrifying though. We’ll likely be getting more details throughout today and over the next few days. The storm is now moving toward Georgia and the Carolinas. You can read live updates at the Weather Channel: Tropical Storm Ian Live Updates: Catastrophic Damage; Destruction Hampers Rescue Efforts; Death Reported.
More on Ian:
CNN: Sanibel and Captiva islands cut off from Florida mainland after Ian’s storm surge washes away three parts of Sanibel Causeway.
At least three sections of the Sanibel Causeway were washed away by storm surge from Hurricane Ian, according to video from CNN affiliates WBBH and WPLG, severing the Sanibel and Captiva islands’ only connection to Florida’s mainland.
The videos from the causeway show two portions of the ramp to both bridges washed away, as well as a stretch of roadway that crossed an island in the middle of the causeway.
A portion of the Sanibel Causeway Bridge “was damaged/washed out,” Lieutenant Gregory S. Bueno with the Public Affairs Division of Florida Highway Patrol told CNN. All lanes of the bridge are currently closed and the severity of the closure is listed as “major,” according to Florida 511.
Law enforcement and personnel from the Lee County Department of Transportation are on scene at the causeway, officials said in an update Thursday morning, and bridge inspectors were working to asses all bridges in Lee County. Residents are advised to remain off the roads “unless absolutely necessary.
The county, which includes Fort Myers in addition to Sanibel and Captiva islands and Cape Coral, suffered “catastrophic damage” from the storm, officials said in their update, noting that 98% of the county remains without power.
Urban search and rescue crews from local agencies are “actively engaged in search and rescue efforts,” with federal search and rescue teams being deployed. In the meantime, the 15 shelters opened prior to the storm’s arrival remain open.
Also from CNN this morning: Rescuers scour Florida’s flooded disaster zone amid massive power outages as Ian continues its ruinous crawl.
Rescuers have been pulling people from roofs as they work to respond to hundreds of calls for help since Ian – now a tropical storm marching across Florida – slammed the state’s west coast as a Category 4 hurricane, its surge trapping residents and its monstrous winds and flooding rains leaving millions without power and many without drinkable water.
Many are believed to need rescuing in hard-hit southwest Florida’s Fort Myers area, FEMA chief Deanne Criswell said Thursday morning. The nearby Naples area was similarly slammed – feet of water submerged streets, nearly swallowing vehicles and rushing into the first floors of homes and businesses – after Ian’s center plowed ashore near Cayo Costa on Wednesday afternoon as one of the strongest storms ever to make landfall on Florida’s west coast.
The Coast Guard and National Guard were “pulling people off of roofs in Fort Myers” with aircraft Thursday morning, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Brendan McPherson told CNN. Coast Guard crews have rescued at least 23 people since Wednesday, the service said.
Roughly five people are believed to have died in Lee County, the sheriff said, and parts of a key bridge there from Sanibel and Captiva islands to Florida’s mainland have been washed out.
Collapsed buildings, flooding, downed power lines and impassable roads were reported early Thursday by survey crews across southwest Florida. More than 2.5 million homes and businesses statewide have no power Thursday morning, according to PowerOutage.us, and some drinking water systems have broken down completely or have boil notices in effect.
Still, much about the misery remains unknown: how many lives Ian may have ended, how many people remain trapped, how many homes were wrecked beyond repair and how long it might take to restore a semblance of ordinary life.
The storm will now move up the coast to do more damage. This story at NBC discusses how climate change is affecting storms like Ian: Why ‘Category 4’ doesn’t begin to explain Hurricane Ian’s dangers.
Even as Ian gathered strength and neared Category 5 status, experts warned that solely paying attention to a hurricane’s category often masks just how destructive and life-threatening these storms can be — particularly as climate change makes hurricanes both rainier and more intense.
Hurricane Ian is already proving to be a devastating storm. After knocking out power to all of Cuba on Tuesday, Ian is forecast to dump up to 24 inches of rain over parts of Florida and trigger up to 18-foot storm surges from Englewood to Bonita Beach, according to the National Hurricane Center…
In the days leading up to Ian’s landfall, many drew comparisons to Hurricane Charley, which struck Florida’s southwestern coast as a Category 4 storm in 2004. But while past hurricanes can provide helpful context, Ian is sure to be a wildly different storm, said Kimberly Wood, an associate professor of meteorology at Mississippi State University.
“We’re looking at a similar category as Hurricane Charley, but the impacts will be very, very different,” they said.
Many of the most destructive and potentially deadly impacts of a hurricane — including storm surge, flooding and rainfall — are not accounted for in a storm’s category number. That’s because these categories refer to a storm’s rating on what’s known as the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which ranks hurricanes from 1 to 5 based on a storm’s maximum sustained wind speed.
The categories are used to estimate potential damage to property from hurricane winds, but where it becomes problematic is if people use the rankings to gauge other impacts on land.
“It has nothing to do with the size of a storm, and it has very little to do with how much rain is produced,” Wood said. “People hyper-focus on the category when the category is a very small part of the picture of what a hurricane might do to a location.”
The effects of climate change:
Hurricane Ian’s rainfall projections across Florida are a major concern and fit within a broader trend of storms becoming rainier in recent years due to climate change. A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, which often means heavy rain and catastrophic flooding when these storms make landfall.
Warmer ocean waters and other changes associated with climate change could also help hurricanes like Ian intensify rapidly as they near shore, said Karthik Balaguru, a climate scientist with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
As they approach the coast, major hurricanes can generate life-threatening storm surge, which refers to the abnormal rise in water levels because of the storm. Even lower-ranked hurricanes on the Saffir-Simpson scale can generate huge storm surge.
As we saw yesterday, the storm surge in Florida was devastating.
More on climate change and hurricanes at Vox: Hurricane Ian’s rapid intensification is a sign of the world to come.
On Monday morning, Hurricane Ian had wind speeds of 75 miles per hour. Just 48 hours later, those speeds had more than doubled. On Wednesday, as the storm made landfall in southwestern Florida, Ian’s wind hit 155 mph — just shy of a Category 5 storm, the most severe category for a hurricane.
Such rapid growth is known by meteorologists as “rapid intensification.” It’s defined as storms whose wind speeds increase by roughly 35 mph or more in less than 24 hours. “Ian definitely met that criteria,” said Paul Miller, a professor of oceanography and coastal sciences at Louisiana State University.
While wind speed isn’t the only force that makes storms dangerous, hurricanes that rapidly intensify are especially worrisome. They can easily catch coastal communities off guard, giving them little time to prepare, Miller said.
What caused the rapid intensification?
It’s an important question, as storms like this one are highly destructive and are likely to become more frequent in the years to come.
There are three main ingredients that, when mixed together, can result in a rapidly intensifying hurricane: moist air, low wind shear (wind coming from different directions or at different speeds), and warm ocean water….
Ian had them all. As it developed several days ago, the storm system faced some disrupting winds, but there was little shear as it grew over the last few days, Miller said. And Ian has largely avoided a region of dry air in the Gulf of Mexico. (Had Ian hit Florida farther north, it might have deteriorated faster, he said.)
Then there’s the warm ocean water. The Gulf of Mexico has been unseasonably warm this summer, according to the National Weather Service. And climate change is heating the Caribbean ocean by a little over 1 degree C (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) per century.
“Even small changes — half a degree C, or a degree — can really make a big difference,” said Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami.
Another reason why the ocean is so warm is that it’s been a relatively quiet hurricane season so far. As hurricanes churn through the Caribbean, they sap heat from the water and churn it up, making it colder and less favorable for rapid intensification, Miller said.
Read more at Vox.
More news, links only:
Charlie Savage at The New York Times: ‘Giant Backfire’: Trump’s Demand for Special Master Is Looking Like a Mistake.
CNN: Trump pushing back on special master’s request for him to declare in court whether DOJ inventory is accurate.
The Daily Beast: Judge Warns of Justice Department’s Gift to Trump That Could Keep on Giving.
Just Security: Tracker: Evidence of Trump’s Knowledge and Involvement in Retaining Mar-a-Lago Documents.
The Washington Post: Pentagon will double powerful HIMARS artillery for Ukraine.
AP: Russia poised to annex occupied Ukraine after sham vote.
CNN: First on CNN: European security officials observed Russian Navy ships in vicinity of Nord Stream pipeline leaks.
Forbes: Russian Sabotage Of The Nord Stream Pipeline Marks A Point Of No Return.
NPR: EU officials and others are concerned about explosions at Nord Stream pipelines.
Raw Story: ‘Incredibly alarming’: Republican poll worker in Michigan charged with tampering with voting equipment.
The Daily Beast: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Husband of 27 Years Files for Divorce.
Unfortunately, Ian didn’t wash Mar-a-Lago away, but Trump is stuck there.
I watched the hurricane as one who has lived through a few, and now that I have my weather spotter classes and certificate, I watched with my technical know-how than I had before. This one didn’t act normal at all.
It just blew up all of a sudden. The surge would always be a problem, and I think most of that area should no longer be developed. Same with the Southern Louisiana cities down on the coast. Climate change has turned all of these into monster storms, which is scary.
I’m not sure how much of this I can watch. It is so triggering for me.
Dak! Thank you for posting this. I’m seeing almost nothing about Fort Myers Beach (Estero Island), but lots of mentions of Sanibel, the city of Fort Myers and Naples. FMBCH took a hella hit – it’s only 1 to 2 miles wide and 7 miles long. I hope my little elementary school survived – there was an old, original building from way back.
Also hoping the Sanibel lighthouse made it (100 years old at least), the Edison and Ford historic homes in town close to the river (yikes).
I actually hope Mar-a-Lago survives long after Dump exits this world. It’s a historic 1920s home built by Marjorie Post. I suspect Melanie ruined a lot of the historicity of it with her “white marble” remodeling. BLEH
Mostly I hope the estimates of fatalities are overblown. Dog help the people who stayed on those islands.
And congrats on your weather-spotting certification! That’s very awesome!
Yes, congrats on the certification!
This is scary
I know I keep saying this, but…. When people lose track of the founding principles — equality before the law, separation of beliefs and state, one person: one vote — then That’s All, She Wrote.
What I’m trying to say is the psychopath is not the problem. The people who give him air are.
They’re going to have to do something with this judge. She is not doing her job well at all.
She’s a shameless hack. Fortunately, this won’t stop the criminal investigation of the classified docs.
Prof Mass points out, again, how far behind the US is on weather forecasting.