Hurricane Irma: People ‘fighting in the streets’ for last remaining food in devastated Caribbean islands

Scramble for biscuits, fruit and water descends into widespread looting of valuables as military forced to step in

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At dawn in St. Martin, people began to gather, quietly planning for survival after Hurricane Irma.

They started with the grocery stores, scavenging what they needed for sustenance: water, crackers, fruit.

But by nightfall on Thursday, what had been a search for food took a more menacing turn, as groups of looters, some of them armed, swooped in and took whatever of value was left: electronics, appliances and vehicles.

“All the food is gone now,” Jacques Charbonnier, a 63-year-old resident of St. Martin, said in an interview on Sunday. “People are fighting in the streets for what is left.”

In the few, long days since the storm Irma pummelled the north east Caribbean, killing more than two dozen people and levelling 90 percent of the buildings on some islands, the social fabric has begun to fray in some of the hardest-hit communities.

Residents of St. Martin, and elsewhere in the region, spoke about a general disintegration of law and order as survivors struggled in the face of severe food and water shortages, and the absence of electricity and phone service.

As reports of increasing desperation continued to emerge from the region over the weekend, governments in Britain, France and the Netherlands, which oversee territories in the region, stepped up their response. They defended themselves against criticism that their reaction had been too slow, and insufficient. Both the French and Dutch governments said they were sending in extra troops to restore order, along with the aid that was being airlifted into the region.

After an emergency meeting with his government on Sunday, President Emmanuel Macron of France said he would travel on Tuesday to St. Martin, an overseas French territory. Macron also announced late on Saturday that he would double France’s troop deployment to the region, to 2,200 from 1,100; officials say the increase is in part a response to the mayhem on St. Martin.

St. Maarten, the Dutch territorial side of the island, which uses a different spelling, has also experienced widespread looting of shops, though the problem was reported to have subsided by Sunday, though not completely.

“There was some looting in the first few days, but the Dutch marines and police are on the street to prevent it,” Paul De Windt, publisher of The Daily Herald, a newspaper in St. Maarten, said Sunday. “Some people steal luxury things and booze, but a lot of people are stealing water and biscuits.”

More than 265 Dutch military personnel have been deployed to St. Maarten, and another 250 are expected to be sent to the region in the next few days to help maintain order and assist with relief efforts, the Dutch government said. In addition, 90 police officers have been flown in from Curaçao, another Dutch territory.

The storm delivered a direct hit on the region starting Wednesday, destroying airports and ports, knocking out power and potable water systems, and leaving many tens of thousands of residents and tourists isolated and increasingly desperate, unable to go anywhere.

The crisis worsened on Saturday as Hurricane Jose rumbled through the region. Though the islands hit by Irma avoided a direct blow from the second hurricane, its arrival forced the suspension of relief and rescue operations, prolonging the agony for many.

On Sunday, officials announced that two more bodies had been discovered in St. Maarten, increasing the death toll in the Caribbean attributable to Hurricane Irma to at least 27. So far, about a dozen deaths on both sides of the island have been attributed to the storm, according to the Associated Press. People here, however, insist that the death toll is much higher.

While there is no way to verify such claims, they illustrate the fear and the rumours swirling through an island as people cut off from the rest of the world, with roads blocked and most areas without cellular service. News, for the most part, is being relayed by word-of-mouth, leading to outsize claims. One popular rumour making the rounds on Sunday was that hundreds of people had died, some at the hands of escapees from a local prison.

The French government denied the rumours about the alleged prison break on Sunday. But some residents spoke of witnessing violence, with people fighting over food at grocery stores, and looters armed with guns and other weapons.

Residents reported that armed men had entered the Hotel Flamboyant in Marigot, the capital of the French side, and robbed tourists by knocking on the doors to their rooms, flashing guns and demanding valuables.

The French National Gendarmerie, whose troops are in St. Martin and St. Barthélemy, another French overseas territory ravaged by the hurricane, announced on Twitter on Sunday that it had made 23 arrests. In a statement, the French Interior Ministry said: “Extraordinary resources have been sent to the Antilles. The government is totally mobilised.”

US officials said Sunday that they had helped evacuated about 1,200 American citizens from St. Martin, many on C-130s, which flew evacuees to Puerto Rico.

On Sunday, Cuba was also reckoning with the damage from Hurricane Irma, which roared along the island nation’s northern coast on Saturday.

Although there have been no reported fatalities or casualties, Havana awoke Sunday morning to substantial damage. The capital’s inhabitants, who spent the night in darkness after authorities cut power as a precaution, found fallen trees, mangled lampposts, and smashed water tanks. Floodwaters reached more than 600 yards into the city.

But damage in the capital was light compared with elsewhere on the island. In the coastal city of Matanzas, 60 miles east, one-story houses were completely under water, and damage to Cayo Romano and Cayo Coco, popular tourist islands, was severe. A video posted on Facebook showed hotel roofs caved in, and mounds of concrete and coils of steel in lobbies. The northern keys are home to more than 50 all-inclusive hotels, which provide essential hard currency for cash-strapped Cuba.

The Cuban government immediately began relief efforts, deploying security forces in large numbers to the hardest-hit areas, along with convoys of trucks carrying food and heavy equipment to help remove debris.

“Cuba is very organised,” said Orlando Eorlsando, 53, as he replaced his front door with bloated plywood in Havana. “The priority of the government is to keep people safe and preserve life.”

While the Cuban response seemed to be a well-oiled machine, elsewhere in the Caribbean the government reaction has been halting, critics say.

In France the criticism of the government’s response to the storm came first from President Macron’s opponents, who were eager to use the hurricane to find fault with his administration.

A more measured critique came from a former minister of France’s overseas territories, Victorin Lurel, who said that the situation needed more “resources, more logistical planning, more transport and a hospital boat.”

“People could have been evacuated ahead of time,” he said in an interview on Sunday on the news channel Europe1. The government response on the Dutch side, he insisted, was better than the French side.

In Marigot, a French Gendarmerie helicopter hovered over the city on Sunday afternoon, flying low and scanning the storm-blistered streets. Boats in the marina had been upturned, half-submerged or tossed onto the beach by the storm.

Families with relatives on the island organised convoys of boats from as far away as Guadeloupe, bringing water, canned goods, fuel and the chance to escape. But even that has become dangerous. Several boats turned back from the island’s main port, fearful of the crowds gathered seeking aid.

As one boat pulled into the Marigot’s harbour on Sunday, a family raced to the docks to offload goods — and load several children on board. Goodbyes were said quickly, and the new passengers who climbed aboard heaved a sigh of relief as the boat pulled off.

Maeva Canappele, 20, wept as the boat began to distance itself from the island of St. Martin, destined for Guadeloupe, a six-hour ride on choppy seas. She was grateful.

“It was getting bad on the island,” she said. “Someone broke into our home and tried to rob us, but my parents managed to scare them away.”

In a statement on Sunday, the French interior ministry said that after emergency needs are dealt with, reconstruction will begin. Among its priorities, the statement said, it intends to distribute 1 million litres of drinking water; secure private property from looters; and get the telecommunications systems running again.

On Tuesday, a French navy ship equipped with a hospital and carrying helicopters, troops and reconstruction material, will depart from France.

In Britain, lawmakers from both the governing Conservative party, as well as the Labour opposition, have accused the government of failing to take adequate precautions to protect the residents of three British territories lying in the path of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Jose.

About 75,000 people, most of them British nationals, live on the Caribbean territories of Anguilla, Turks and Caicos, and the British Virgin Islands — each of which suffered substantial damage from Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Irma in Pictures

 

In preparation for the hurricane season, the British government had sent a naval supply ship to the region in July. Following the storm, the ship brought 40 relief specialists to Anguilla, who helped to restore power at the island’s main hospital and carry out repairs at its airport, according to the British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson.

Since Friday, Britain has also sent two transport planes carrying almost 20 tonnes of emergency supplies to its Caribbean territories, as well as 250 marines and two extra military helicopters. Britain’s largest warship will arrive in the Caribbean in around 10 days, carrying eight more helicopters.

 

Hurricane Irma: People ‘fighting in the streets’ for last remaining food in devastated Caribbean islands

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President Donald Trump Sets Internet on Fire, Retweets Hilarious Slam on Hillary Clinton’s New Book

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by WARNER TODD HUSTON  3 Sep 2017

On Saturday evening, President Donald Trump set the Internet ablaze by endorsing a hilarious tweet trolling Hillary Clinton and the title of her new book, What Happened.

After spending most of the day helping survivors of Hurricane Harvey on September 2, Trump took a few minutes off Saturday night to fire up Twitter, as he so often does.

The president retweeted a message from a Trump fan account called Team_Trump45. It was a meme image featuring the cover of Clinton’s campaign autopsy book, What Happened. Next to the image of Clinton’s book cover was a similar but fake book cover with a large photo of a smiling Donald Trump under the words, “I Happened.”

Along with the president, the Tweet reached over 44,000 likes, more than 15,000 re-tweets, and 4,500 comments by press time.

The president’s endorsement of the hilarious jab at the former Democrat party banner carrier comes just ahead of Hillary’s book tour, which is drawing criticism before it even starts.

Last week news broke that the former Secretary of State and two-time losing candidate for president was charging $2,000 and more for an opportunity to meet her and get an autographed copy of the book during the book tour.

A “VIP platinum ticket” for a Sept. 28 talk in Toronto, Canada will cost a hefty $2,375.95. Similar pricing is available in other Canadian cities. General admission tickets, which are already sold out, went for approximately $70 each, according to Fox News.

Meanwhile, President Trump spent Saturday serving meals and meeting with victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

Indeed, due to his warm demeanor and sunny optimism, one victim of Harvey said that after meeting Trump, she changed her mind about him.

On Friday, the president also pledged to donate one million dollars of his own money to Hurricane Harvey relief. Thus far, though, it isn’t known when or how that donation will be fulfilled.

President Donald Trump Sets Internet on Fire, Retweets Hilarious Slam on Hillary Clinton’s New Book

Harvey’s death toll climbs in Texas; at least 23 killed

Published August 30, 2017

Crews in Texas have found the bodies of 23 victims of Harvey’s wrath, and warned on Wednesday that the number of dead would almost certainly soar as water levels across much of the Houston area start to recede.

Authorities say a married couple who drove their pickup truck into Harvey’s floodwaters drowned after the current from a nearby creek swept them away.

Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Maj. Chad Norvell says the couple was on the phone with 911 asking for help when the line went silent. When officers found the truck, it was completely submerged.

They lived in a rural area of the county southwest of Houston and they were headed to a relative’s house nearby.

The announcement of the couple’s death comes after Beaumont police said a woman’s body turned up Wednesday morning — but did not release her name or the possible circumstances that led to her death.

She would be at least the second person to have died in Beaumont this week. Crews found a shivering 3-year-old clinging to the body of her drowned mother in a rain-swollen canal Tuesday after the woman tried to carry her child to safety.

In addition, officials in Harris County made a grim announcement: They were investigating 17 more deaths as potentially Harvey-related, and would conduct autopsies to determine the causes.

 

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Montgomery County Sheriff’s Capt. Bryan Carlisle said one body was found around a barricade and in standing water on Monday, while another victim tried to swim across a flooded road.

The Daily Mail reported that two volunteer rescuers were killed when their motorboat was electrocuted by submerged power lines in Greens Bayou, and two other rescuers were missing. A fifth volunteer and two journalists survived but were forced to cling to trees and branches for about 18 hours, according to the website.

“We were hanging on for dear life,” photojournalist Ruaridh Connellan said. “The water smelled putrid, like stagnant sewage, mixed with everything else,” reporter Alan Butterfield added.

Gov. Greg Abbott urged residents to avoid driving into flooded waters, cautioning that the “worst is not yet over.”1504117270074

“It is imperative that we do everything possible to protect the lives and safety of people across the state of Texas as we continue to face the aftermath of this storm,” he said.

He said the Texas National Guard has activated 14,000 in addition to 10,000 troops from other states to help in the ongoing recovery efforts throughout the state.

As TS Harvey moves east, the weather forecast will improve. Please do NOT go out and sight see! It is still dangerous!

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In Houston, officers located a submerged van in which six members of a family were traveling when it was swept off a bridge and into a storm-ravaged bayou.

In neighboring Louisiana, where forecasters feared Harvey’s torrential rains would cause massive flooding, the governor said “things are not as bad as had been forecasted.”

“We’ve fared much better than we feared, but our neighbors are still taking it on the chin,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said at a news conference.

A levee has breached near Gueydan, La., and the National Guard is working in the area to address the issue, according to Edwards.

As of Wednesday afternoon, about 330 people were being sheltered in the Lake Charles-area, including some from Texas.

Earlier on Wednesday, acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke said federal government agencies would help those affected for as long as needed.

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“We expect a many-year recovery in Texas and the federal government is in this for the long haul,” Duke said. “We will help the people of Texas for as long as they need.”

She added: “This particular storm was unprecedented in terms of volume, of rain, and that’s what we’re focusing on now.”

Duke said while officials were monitoring the situation in Louisiana, the focus remained on the greater Houston area, which saw more than 50 inches of rain after Harvey made landfall Saturday.

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“Catastrophic flooding is likely to persist days after the rain stops,” she added.

With at least 13,000 rescued in the Houston area and surrounding cities and counties, more people were still trying to escape from their inundated homes.

FEMA administrator Brock Long said more than 230 shelters are operating in Texas, housing more than 30,000 people.

“We’re also calling on other states through emergency management assistance compacts,” he said. “We’re still in lifesaving, life sustaining mode.”

He added: “Shelters are obviously not ideal and unfortunately people are going to be there for quite some time.”

“The water levels are going down. And that’s for the first time in several days,” said Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist with the Harris County Flood Control District.

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However, some neighborhoods were still in danger as a levee along Cypress Creek in the northern part of the country could fail and swamp a subdivision where some residents ignored a mandatory evacuation order.

The water in two reservoirs that protect downtown Houston from flooding was likely to crest Wednesday at levels slightly below those that were forecast, officials said.

Meanwhile, the Texas community of Port Arthur found itself increasingly isolated Wednesday as Harvey’s rains flooded most major roads out of the city and swamped a shelter for victims fleeing the storm that ravaged the Houston area.

The crisis deepened in the coastal city after Harvey rolled ashore overnight for the second time in six days, this time hitting southwestern Louisiana on the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

The city’s mayor, Derrick Freeman, urged residents to get to higher ground and to avoid becoming trapped in attics.

“The city is underwater right now but we are coming!” he wrote on Facebook

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On Wednesday, officials at the Pentagon said the U.S. Navy is moving the USS Kearsarge and USS Oak Hill to the area to assist, which are expected to arrive next week. The U.S. Coast Guard has 35 helicopters and 6 fixed-wing aircraft conducting missions, in addition to 92 shallow-water rescue boats conducting block-by-block search and rescue efforts.

Over 3,600 people have been rescued by air and shallow-water boats, according to Coast Guard officials.

In Louisiana, forecasters warned of potential tornadoes forming in northeast part of the state and across southern and central portions of Mississippi.

Forecasters initially warned Harvey could creep as far east as Mississippi by Thursday, meaning New Orleans, where Hurricane Katrina unleashed its full wrath in 2005, would be in its path. Harvey is now expected to exit Louisiana over the northeast corner of the state, affecting Shreveport.

Harvey hit Texas as a Category 4 storm late Friday night packing 130 mph winds. It made a second landfall about three hours later before it was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane. After the winds dropped below 73 mph, it was downgraded to a tropical storm.

Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Harvey’s death toll climbs in Texas; at least 23 killed

Rain record broken in Texas as Harvey dumps nearly 52 inches

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Nearly 52 inches of rain have been recorded in Cedar Bayou, Texas, the National Weather Service reported on Tuesday – a figure that broke the continental U.S. record – as Harvey continues to hit the area.

Rains in the region, near Mont Belvieu, Texas, reached 51.88 inches as of 3:30 p.m. CDT. That’s a record for both Texas and the continental United States but it doesn’t surpass the 52 inches from tropical cyclone Hiki in Kauai, Hawaii, in 1950 — before Hawaii became a state.

But the National Hurricane Center says that the reading on Tuesday afternoon may be unusual because it was from a low flying hurricane hunter airplane.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Tuesday imposed a curfew beginning at 12 a.m. to ensure public safety. Police Chief Art Acevedo said violators would be stopped, questioned, searched and arrested.

Harvey has gained strength but has remained a tropical storm. Its winds increased from 45 mph to 50 mph

Forecasters say heavy rains are continuing to spread over southeastern Texas and southern Louisiana.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards offered to take in Harvey victims from Texas, and televangelist Joel Osteen has opened his Houston megachurch, a 16,000-seat former arena, after critics hit him on social media for not acting to help families displaced by the storm.

The city’s largest shelter, the George R. Brown Convention Center, held more than 9,000 people, almost twice the number officials originally planned to house there, Turner said. The crowds included many from areas outside Houston.

“We are not turning anyone away. But it does mean we need to expand our capabilities and our capacity,” Turner said. “Relief is coming.”

Edwards said he expects Texas officials to decide within 48 hours whether to accept his offer, which comes as Louisiana deals with its own flooding. About 500 people were evacuated from flooded neighborhoods in southwest Louisiana, Edwards said.

On Tuesday night the U.S. coast guard announced that it saved 4,322 lives in the Houston area since Sunday.

In all, more than 17,000 people have sought refuge in Texas shelters and that number seemed certain to increase, the American Red Cross said.

Turner said the city has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for more supplies, including cots and food, for additional 10,000 people, which he hopes to get no later than Wednesday.

Federal regulators say dozens of offshore oil-and-gas platforms and rigs in the Gulf of Mexico have been evacuated as the storm continues to dump heavy rain.

The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said in a statement Tuesday that workers were evacuated from 102 production platforms — nearly 14 percent of the 737 manned platforms in the Gulf.

Five of the 10 drilling rigs currently operating in the Gulf also had been evacuated as of noon Tuesday.

The bureau estimated that approximately 19 percent of the Gulf’s oil and natural gas production was “shut-in,” or temporarily halted, as of midday Tuesday. Offshore facilities will be inspected once the storm has passed.

The Texas Gulf is a key area for U.S. oil refineries and oil and gas production.

Homes northeast of Houston, meantime, have been evacuated after a chemical company warned of a risk of an explosion at its flooded plant.

The Harris County Fire Marshal’s office said in a tweet Tuesday that homes within 1.5 miles of the Arkema plant in Crosby have been evacuated out of precaution.

In a news release, Arkema said that it manufactures organic peroxides in Crosby, about 25 miles northeast of Houston. The company says the chemical compounds must be stored at low temperatures, but it lost refrigerated storage after power went out and backup generators were inundated.

Arkema said it shut down the Crosby site before Harvey made landfall last week, but a crew of 11 had been kept onsite. That group was removed Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Rain record broken in Texas as Harvey dumps nearly 52 inches

Displaced Woman Emotional Over ‘Frozen, Soaked to the Bone’ Children After Harvey

A woman in a shelter for those rescued from Hurricane Harvey said the children there need help as soon as possible.

“I see these people come in and this little girl was just frozen,” the lady said of the small girl she was cradling. “These kids need help.”

Around 30,000 Texans were displaced by Hurricane Harvey as floods took over the city days after the storm passed. Harvey hit southeast Texas on Friday, leaving widespread devastation and stranding many who tried to wait out the storm.

“I don’t even know what to say,” the upset woman said. “They’re not my kids, but I’ll tell you what, I love them like they’re my own.”

A man at the shelter said he was afraid he and his family would get shocked from their submerged electrical outlets.

Rainfall totals could double in certain areas this week, giving residents no respite from their already submerged homes and streets.

Displaced Woman Emotional Over ‘Frozen, Soaked to the Bone’ Children After Harvey

Hurricane Harvey: Why Is It So Extreme?

How did the storm rapidly blow up from Category 1 to 4, why is it so stuck over Houston, how can it possibly produce so much rain? And more

 

Hurricane Harvey is drowning southeastern Texas for the fourth day, putting a vast area under feet of water. Experts say Harvey has been stuck longer in one place than any tropical storm in memory. That is just one of the hurricane’s extremes; the storm is off the charts by many measures. Scientific American wanted to learn why, and we asked meteorologist Jeff Masters for help. Masters is the co-founder of Weather Underground, a web site that meteorologists nationwide go to for their own inside information about severe weather. Masters also wrote a fascinating articleon why the jet stream is getting weird.

Why did Hurricane Harvey so quickly explode from a Category 1 hurricane to Category 4?
Last Wednesday night, August 23, Harvey was a tropical depression, but after just eight overnight hours it was forming a hurricane eye wall. “That’s remarkably fast,” Masters says. On Friday it rapidly ballooned from a Category 1 hurricane to Category 4. That is because it happened to pass over a region of extremely warm ocean water called an eddy. This spot of hot water was 1 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the Gulf of Mexico around it, which itself was already 1 to 2 degrees F higher than average, reaching 85 or 86 degrees F in places. The hotter the water, the more energy it drives into a storm. Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed New Orleans in 2005, also mushroomed to Category 4 in a similar fashion because it, too, passed over a hot eddy in the Gulf.

Why is Harvey so stuck in place over Texas?
Hurricanes are circular structures with winds that spiral counterclockwise, but they are steered by larger wind patterns in the greater atmosphere that push them in one direction. In Harvey’s case, a big high-pressure system over the southeastern U.S. is trying to push the storm in one direction, but a big high pressure system over the southwestern U.S. is trying to push the storm in the opposite direction. “The systems have equal strength and are cancelling each other out,” leaving Harvey stranded, Masters says. “It’s highly usual to have two highs on either side of a hurricane of equal strength.” The only other time Masters recalls that happening to a huge storm system was Hurricane Mitch in 1998, which struck Central America and killed an estimated 7,000 people in Honduras.

How can Harvey reverse direction, now, heading back out over the Gulf of Mexico from where it came?
The high pressure system in the southeastern U.S. is also trying to push Harvey west, but now the storm has bumped into the high pressure system in the southwestern U.S., which is pushing it back to the east. On any given day one of the systems might temporarily be winning this atmospheric ping-pong match. Masters says a low-pressure trough system has been setting up north of Harvey and might strengthen enough to start to pull the hurricane northward. National weather forecasts released Monday morning indicate that might happen later this week.

How can Harvey produce such extreme rainfall even though it is no longer over the ocean?
The answer to this is fascinating. Normally a hurricane pulls moisture up from the ocean and releases it as rain all around the storm’s area, particularly in the northeastern quadrant. But Harvey has dropped so much water over such a large area of southeastern Texas that the storm is pulling that water back up into itself and dumping it again as more rain. The flood area is so far and wide that it is acting like part of an ocean, feeding warm moisture up into Harvey. “You only need about 50 percent of the land to be covered with water for that to happen,” Masters says. “Obviously we have more than that in Texas.”

Could Harvey exist as a self-perpetuating rain machine over land?
Masters says meteorologists cannot answer this question yet. “If it were to stay perfectly still, could it maintain itself for a long period of time?” he asks. “That’s an interesting theoretical question. We just don’t know.”

Why did Harvey’s rain bands intensify at night rather than during the day?
This phenomenon is actually typical of large hurricanes: they weaken during the day and strengthen at night. “At night the upper atmosphere cools,” Masters explains. “That creates instability, which increases the updrafts in thunderstorms throughout the hurricane system. Those air currents pull more moisture up from the surface” of the ocean—or the flooded land.

Why has Harvey caused such deep coastal flooding even though the ocean storm surge was not so high?
This answer is also intriguing. Storm surge is often the deadliest aspect of tropical systems. Hurricane Katrina’s storm surge drowned New Orleans. Hurricane Sandy’s surge inundated New York City and New Jersey. Harvey’s storm surge was not nearly as high, yet water piled up along certain portions of the Texas coast. Masters says this is called “compound flooding.” With feet of rain, the rivers are so swollen that they are rushing toward the Gulf coast, but the storm surge is coming inland as those rivers try to flow seaward. The two surges meet at the coast “and the water piles up from both sides,” Masters says. The land’s shape and elevation at any location can make the compound flooding worse. In Galveston, for example, the sea surge was about three feet but the actual water surge was about nine feet.

For more on hurricane dynamics, click here.

Hurricane Harvey: Why Is It So Extreme?

Tropical Storm Harvey Total Rainfall Could Reach 50 Inches in Texas; Heavy Rain Spreads to Louisiana, Including New Orleans

By Jon Erdman and Chris Dolce Aug 28 2017 11:30 AM EDT weather.com

Story Highlights

Harvey will move off the coast, then back over southeast Texas Wednesday.

Periods of torrential rain will continue over parts of Texas and Louisiana the next several days with more flooding likely.

Parts of southeast Houston saw more than two feet of rain in 24 hours.

The flooding has rivaled what was observed during Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 in some locations.

Isolated rainfall totals from Harvey could be up to 50 inches by later this week.

Tropical Storm Harvey has drifted back over the Gulf of Mexico and will meander near the upper Texas coast the next few days, bringing more torrential rainfall to the flooded Houston metro area, piling onto record-breaking, catastrophic flooding.

Localized storm total rain amounts of up to 50 inches are not out of the question once Harvey’s rain is finished later this week. This may end up being one of the worst flood disasters in U.S. history.

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Through early Monday, parts of the southeast Texas have received more than 30 inches of rain since Thursday evening. The top rainfall total is 39.72 inches near Dayton, Texas, which is located well northeast of Houston.

The average rainfall within the Harris County Emergency Management network has exceeded that of Tropical Storm Allison (2001) in almost half of the time (2 to 3 days versus 5 days).

(MORE: Latest Houston Impacts)

Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport crushed its record wettest calendar day, Sunday, by over 5 inches, picking up 16.07 inches of rain, just under the five-day total of 16.48 inches from Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. Houston’s Hobby Airport also crushed a two-day rainfall record by almost 8 inches, picking up 23.06 inches of rain August 26-27.

Still a named storm over 48 hours after landfall, Harvey is the longest a Texas landfalling hurricane has remained a named storm after landfall since Fern in 1971, according to Colorado State University tropical scientist Dr. Phil Klotzbach.

Harvey made landfall Friday night near Rockport, Texas, north of Corpus Christi, as the first Category 4hurricane to landfall in the U.S. since Charley in August 2004.

(MORE: Hurricane Central | Latest Impacts | How You Can Help Victims)

The circulation from Harvey will meander near the state for several more days, resulting in additional double-digit rainfall amounts, potentially including Houston once again. Here’s what to expect.

Still Days of Heavy Rain Ahead

The heaviest rain Monday, so far, has been in far east Texas and southwest Louisiana. Radar rainfall rates of 5 to 6 inches per hour were estimated in this band. Fourteen inches of rain flooded numerous homes near Hamshire, Texas. Water was also entering homes in Vidor, Texas, Monday morning.

Rain from Harvey is also continuing over parts of central Texas, and is extending into much of Louisiana and parts of Mississippi and southern Arkansas.

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Harvey’s center of circulation is now just offshore, triggering tropical storm warnings from Mesquite Bay to High Island, Texas.

(MORE: Harvey By the Numbers)

The tropical storm is currently caught in between two areas of high pressure and, without another weather system to scoop Harvey up, it will be stuck for the next few days before finally tracking north later this week.

The National Hurricane Center is not expecting significant strengthening of Harvey while it’s briefly off the Gulf Coast, so the main concern should remain additional heavy rainfall.

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A tropical cyclone’s rainfall potential is a function of its forward speed, not its intensity. Therefore, several more days of torrential rain are expected in many of the already flood-ravaged areas.

Areas of heavy rain may persist in parts of Texas or the adjacent lower Mississippi Valley into Friday or Saturday, though the heavy rain threat will be gradually lessening in the most flooded areas by late this week.

(MORE: Water, Not Wind, the Deadliest Factor in U.S. Tropical Storms, Hurricanes)

Here are the latest rainfall forecasts through Friday from the National Hurricane Center and NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center:

  • Upper Texas coast into southwest Louisiana: an additional 15 to 25 inches, bringing isolated storm totals up to 50 inches over the upper Texas coast, including the Houston/Galveston metro areas
  • Farther south into the middle Texas coast, west toward the Texas Hill Country and east across south-central Louisiana: storm totals of 5 to 15 inches
  • In southeast Lousiana, 5-10 inches of rain is forecast.

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Persistent onshore winds are still keeping water levels higher than normal along the upper Texas and southern Louisiana coasts, including Galveston Bay. This coastal flooding may continue through multiple high-tide cycles the next few days, only slowly subsiding with time.

(MORE: Three Reasons Slow-Moving Tropical Storms and Hurricanes Are the Worst)

These surge-choked bays and inlets won’t allow rain-swollen rivers to drain fast enough, backing up these rivers and worsening flooding upstream, just as the floodwater upstream arrives.

It will be an arduously slow process to first get coastal water levels down, then drain the massive volume of floodwater upstream. This process will likely continue past Labor Day, in some areas.

Recap: A Truly Historic Hurricane

Harvey made landfall Friday night near Rockport, a town of less than 10,000 people and about 30 miles up the Texas coast from Corpus Christi.

Harvey is this nation’s first major (Category 3 or stronger) hurricane landfall since Hurricane Wilma struck South Florida in October 2005, an almost 12-year run. A multi-day deluge of the Texas Gulf Coast with catastrophic and life-threatening flooding and destructive winds could leave areas uninhabitable for an extended period of time, the National Weather Service has warned.

harvey_landfall

Harvey went from a tropical depression to a major hurricane in 56 hours. It intensified rapidly to a Category 4 hurricane with winds up to 130 mph after moving over a pocket of hot water in the Gulf.

Harvey is also the strongest landfall in this area, known as the Texas Coastal Bend, since Hurricane Carla, in September 1961, produced catastrophic damage from storm surge and high winds in Port O’Connor and Palacios, Texas, among other locations.

The only other Category 4 landfall of record near the Texas Coastal Bend was the infamous Indianola hurricane of August 1886, which devastated the town of Indianola just 11 years after another Category 3hurricane, eventually turning the former bustling port into a ghost town.

A storm surge of more than 6.6 feet was recorded at Port Lavaca, Texas, with destructive surge reported in other locations along the Texas Coastal Bend.

There have been over a dozen tornadoes so far, with the total number of tornadoes still yet to be determined.

One apparent tornado crossed Interstate 10 and hit a storage facility in the western Houston metro suburb of Katy around 5:30-6 a.m. CDT Saturday morning.

At least one tornado was confirmed in northwestern Harris County, Texas.

In the southwest suburb of Missouri City, more than 50 homes were damaged in the Sienna Plantation neighborhood.

Rainfall Totals

Here are the latest rainfall totals through 9 a.m. CDT Monday, all in Texas unless otherwise specified:

  • 39.72 inches near Dayton
  • 34.90 inches near Waller
  • 30.32 inches in South Houston
  • 29.17 inches near Richmond
  • 25.66 inches at Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport
  • 25.16 inches in Sugarland
  • 24.47 inches at Houston Hobby Airport
  • 21.88 inches in Smithville
  • 13.92 inches in College Station
  • 10.41 inches in Galveston
  • 9.65 inches south-southwest of Lake Charles, Louisiana
  • 9.37 inches near Victoria
  • 8.62 inches near Hackberry, Louisiana
  • 7.96 inches at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
  • 3.82 inches near Corpus Christi

Strongest Wind Gusts

Here are the highest wind gusts we’ve seen from Harvey:

  • Port Aransas: 132 mph, sustained to 110 mph
  • Near Copano Village: 125 mph
  • Near Lamar: 110 mph
  • Rockport: 108 mph
  • Near Taft: 90 mph
  • Near Magnolia Beach: 79 mph
  • Palacios: 69 mph
  • Corpus Christi Int’l Airport: 63 mph
  • Austin Bergstrom Int’l Airport: 52 mph

Check back with weather.com for updates on Harvey.

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(FULL DETAILS: River Flooding May Last For Weeks In Some Areas)

Strong storms bring suspected tornadoes to all of Florida – CBS News

Last Updated Feb 16, 2016 1:30 PM EST

MIAMI – South Florida residents were reporting fierce winds and downed trees a day after suspected tornadoes tied to a vast storm system turned several homes to rubble in the northwest corner of Florida’s Panhandle and in Mississippi.

CBS Miami reports this pattern of increased tornado activity is associated with strong El Nino events during the winter months in Florida.

While a tornado touchdown has not been officially confirmed by officials, several Miami-area residents reported seeing one.

A strong line of thunderstorms passed through Miami-Date County just before 9 a.m. Tuesday, National Weather Service meteorologist Chuck Caracozza said. The same system went through Palm Beach and Broward counties during the morning commute, bringing dark skies, heavy rain and wind.

National Weather Service meteorologist Chuck Caracozza said teams from the agency would survey the area to determine whether a tornado touched down. He said wind and rain would be out of the region by mid-day, leaving colder weather with temperatures expected to dip to around 60 degrees in South Florida on Tuesday night.

Source: Strong storms bring suspected tornadoes to all of Florida – CBS News