October 24, 2021

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‘Extremely dangerous’ Hurricane Ida makes landfall leaving more than 300,000 without power

‘Extremely dangerous’ Hurricane Ida makes landfall leaving more than 300,000 without power
Hurricane Ida has been downgraded to a tropical storm after making landfall, as Joe Biden declared a "major disaster" in Louisiana . More than a million people were left without power after Hurricane Ida battered the state with 150mph winds tearing through some areas. Originally described as an "extremely dangerous" category four storm, it hit…

Hurricane Ida has been downgraded to a tropical storm after making landfall, as Joe Biden declared a “major disaster” in Louisiana .

More than a million people were left without power after Hurricane Ida battered the state with 150mph winds tearing through some areas.

Originally described as an “extremely dangerous” category four storm, it hit on the same date Hurricane Katrina ravaged Louisiana and Mississippi 16 years earlier.

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Inside the eye of Hurricane Ida

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has said it is now classed as a “tropical storm over southwestern Mississippi”.

So far one person is reported to have died, after a tree fell on a home near Baton Rouge, in Louisiana.

The NHC added that Hurricane Ida is expected to become a tropical depression by Monday evening and it is currently about 50 miles north of Baton Rouge with maximum sustained winds of 60mph.

New Orleans Police detective Alexander Reiter, looks over debris from a building that collapsed during Hurricane Ida in New Orleans, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. Hurricane Ida knocked out power to all of New Orleans and inundated coastal Louisiana communities on a deadly path through the Gulf Coast that is still unfolding and promises more destruction. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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New Orleans Police detective Alexander Reiter, looks over debris from a building that collapsed during Hurricane Ida in New Orleans, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. Hurricane Ida knocked out power to all of New Orleans and inundated coastal Louisiana communit

The White House said President Biden “ordered federal aid to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts”.

Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards said: “This is going to be much stronger than we usually see and, quite frankly, if you had to draw up the worst possible path for a hurricane in Louisiana, it would be something very, very close to what we’re seeing.”

A flash flood warning has been issued for parts of the state close to the coast.

A satellite image shows Hurricane Ida in the Gulf of Mexico August 29, 2021. European Union, Copernicus Sentinel-3 Imagery, Processed by DG DEFIS/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. MUST ON SCREEN COURTESY EUROPEAN UNION, COPERNICUS SENTINEL-3 IMAGERY, PROCESSED BY DG DEFIS.

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A satellite image shows Hurricane Ida in the Gulf of Mexico. Pic: European Union, Copernicus Sentinel-3 Imagery, Processed by DG DEFIS

All of New Orleans was left without power following “catastrophic transmission failure” near the city as darkness fell.

The city’s power supplier – Entergy – confirmed that the only power in the city was coming from generators, the city’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness said on Twitter.

Mr Biden was warned that the storm is “life-threatening” and that the devastation is “likely to be immense”, with his government “planning for the worst”.

Ida rapidly intensified overnight as it moved through some of the warmest ocean water in the world in the northern Gulf of Mexico, and its top winds grew by 45mph to 150mph in five hours.

It was later downgraded to category three – with winds between 111mph and 125mph – as it moved over land. Katrina followed a similar trajectory.

Just before 4am UK time – 10pm local time – it was further downgraded to category two, with winds of up to 100mph.

Hurricane #Ida Advisory 15A: Ida Moving Further Inland Over Southeastern Louisiana. Catastrophic Storm Surge, Extreme Winds, and Flash Flooding Continue in Portions of Southeastern Louisiana. https://t.co/VqHn0u1vgc

— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) August 29, 2021

And then at around 5am UK time, the hurricane was again lowered – this time to category one, meaning there were sustained winds of up to 95mph.

Arriving with a barometric pressure of 930 millibars, Ida is preliminarily tied as the fifth-strongest hurricane to make landfall in the US based on wind speed.

Hurricane force winds started to strike Grand Isle on Sunday morning.

A news crew reports on the edge of Lake Pontchartrain ahead of approaching Hurricane Ida in New Orleans, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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A news crew reports on the edge of Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans (Pic: AP)

Before power was lost on the Louisiana barrier island, a beachfront web camera showed the ocean steadily rising as growing waves churned and palm trees whipped.

At least 800,000 customers had lost power in Louisiana within hours of landfall, according to outages being tracked by Entergy Louisiana.

Mr Biden said it could take weeks for some places to get power back.

Officials said Ida’s swift intensification from a few thunderstorms to a hurricane over three days left no time to organise a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans’ 390,000 residents.

A man passes by a section of roof that was blown off of a building in the French Quarter in New Orleans (Pic: AP)

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A section of roof is blown off of a building in the French Quarter in New Orleans (Pic: AP)

Mayor of New Orleans LaToya Cantrell has urged everyone in the city to “stay here from this point forward”.

She said the public should see signs that “we’re moving out of this” on Monday morning, but warned people “not to come out” until they are told to do so.

“My message to the community at this time, all of our residents, even visitors who are here, this is the time to stay inside, do not venture out,” she said.

A man holds a placard hours before the arrival of Hurricane Ida, in Morgan City, Louisiana (Pic: AP)

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A man holds a placard hours before the arrival of Hurricane Ida, in Morgan City, Louisiana (Pic: AP)

She called the hurricane a “very dangerous” and “very serious” situation.

People in New Orleans have been warned they may struggle to get through if they call 911 as the emergency line was experiencing technical difficulties.

The Emergency Communications Center in the city tweeted: “At this time, 9-1-1 is experiencing technical difficulties.

“If you find yourself in an emergency, please go to your nearest fire station or approach your nearest officer.”

Analysis by Greg Milam, US correspondent

It was a day many in New Orleans had planned to spend commemorating the terrible cost of Hurricane Katrina exactly sixteen years ago.

Instead of those peaceful, sombre events, they found themselves sitting in the dark as Hurricane Ida battered the Big Easy and knocked out power to the whole city.

The power of Ida was astonishing even for a city that has become pretty used to hurricanes arriving on its doorstep. This is the fourth to make landfall here in a year.

The emergency services announced conditions were too bad for them to respond to calls for help. Rescue crews said they would not be able to begin operations to reach people for hours.

It meant those who chose to stay and ride out Ida were on their own.

The authorities believe – they hope that the vast majority of people in the most vulnerable areas did choose to evacuate in recent days. Some estimates suggest 98 per cent did.

But they fear there will have been loss of life among those who didn’t.

Ida packed a long, lingering punch over the Gulf Coast and it isn’t finished yet. These hurricanes are becoming wetter and more intense, scientists say, as the result of climate change, with warmer seas and more water vapour in the air.

Katrina took the lives of 1,800 people in 2005, the result of a series of catastrophic failures amidst the storm.

Ida might not have a cost on the same scale but it is another reminder for the city of what its future might look like.

Ida has threatened a region already reeling from a resurgence of COVID-19 infections, due to low vaccination rates and the highly contagious Delta variant.

More than two million people live around New Orleans, Baton Rouge and the wetlands to the south.

New Orleans hospitals planned to ride out the storm with their beds nearly full, as similarly stressed hospitals elsewhere had little room for evacuated patients.

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President Biden has said that Hurricane Ida is ‘devastating’

And shelters for those fleeing their homes carried an added risk of becoming flashpoints for new infections.

Forecasters warned winds stronger than 115mph were expected soon in Houma, a city of 33,000 that supports oil platforms in the Gulf, while Gulfport, Mississippi, to the east of New Orleans, was seeing the ocean rise.

Mr Biden approved emergency declarations for Louisiana and Mississippi ahead of Ida’s arrival.

Comparisons to the landfall of Katrina on 29 August 2005 weighed heavily on residents bracing for Ida.

An abandoned vehicle is half submerged in a ditch next to a near flooded highway as the outer bands of Hurricane Ida arrive Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in Bay Saint Louis, Miss. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

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An abandoned vehicle is half submerged in a ditch next to a near flooded highway as the outer bands of Hurricane Ida arrive Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in Bay Saint Louis, Miss. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Katrina was blamed for 1,800 deaths as it caused levee breaches and catastrophic flooding in New Orleans.

“Ida will most definitely be stronger than Katrina, and by a pretty big margin,”‘ said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy.

“And, the worst of the storm will pass over New Orleans and Baton Rouge, which got the weaker side of Katrina.”

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