Extreme weather: Hurricane "Idalia" hits Florida

Hurricane Idalia hit the southeast coast of the United States.

Extreme weather: Hurricane "Idalia" hits Florida

Hurricane Idalia hit the southeast coast of the United States. The storm hit the coast of Florida on Wednesday morning (local time) as a category three out of five hurricane, according to the US hurricane center NHC in Miami. The storm then weakened overland and eventually moved on as a Category One hurricane, toward the states of Georgia and South Carolina.

Deaths were initially not reported. The civil protection authority Fema also urgently warned of major dangers after the storm, such as flooding. It is still far too early to assess the storm damage.

"Idalia" was briefly rated as a category four hurricane off the US coast, but was then downgraded again. With sustained wind speeds of just over 200 kilometers per hour, the storm hit the coast of Florida in the Big Bend region south of the capital Tallahassee. FEMA boss Deanne Criswell said in Washington that "Idalia" was the strongest storm to hit this part of Florida in more than 100 years. However, the authorities had prepared intensively for this.

Extent of damage still unclear

The storm brought not only strong winds, but also heavy rains. Streets were flooded, houses damaged, trees uprooted, power lines torn down. Criswell said the region around Big Bend, where the hurricane made landfall, is likely to experience the greatest damage. Well-founded statements about the effects of the hurricane are only possible in the coming days. In many areas it is still too dangerous to go out.

On Wednesday morning (local time), around 300,000 households in Florida were initially without power due to the storm, according to Fema. Criswell said the number is likely to go up. Power outages are also expected in Georgia and South Carolina as the storm sweeps through those regions. Several tens of thousands of fitters were to help restore the power supply.

The airport in Tampa was temporarily closed on Tuesday. Classes were canceled at many Florida schools. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said on Wednesday afternoon (local time) that Tampa Airport should be reopened later in the day, as should other airports.

Danger is not over yet

DeSantis emphasized: "So far there have been no confirmed fatalities." However, Criswell warned residents of the affected areas not to go to flooded areas on foot or by car. Unfortunately, there are many deaths after a storm.

In a number of Florida districts, people had previously been asked to leave their homes and temporarily seek shelter with relatives, friends or hotels. The NHC rated "Idalia" as "extremely dangerous". Heavy storm surges could cause flooding up to about 4.5 meters higher than normal.

Farther south in Florida, the foothills of "Idalia" had made themselves felt earlier. Flooding occurred in the holiday towns of Madeira Beach and St. Pete Beach, and roads had to be closed. Port Canaveral, one of the largest cruise ports in the world, temporarily suspended shipping due to the storm.

Tropical cyclone season lasts from June to November in the Atlantic. There is talk of a hurricane from sustained wind speeds of 119 kilometers per hour. According to experts, climate change is increasing the likelihood of strong storms. The strength of hurricanes is measured according to a scale developed by meteorologists Herbert Saffir and Robert Simpson: A Category 1 hurricane reaches up to 153 kilometers per hour. Level 2 applies to Tempo 177, Level 3 to 208 and Level 4 to 251. A hurricane of the highest category 5 wind speeds of more than 251 kilometers per hour are reached.

I-Storms: First "Ian" then "Idalia"

The arrival of "Idalia" is likely to bring back dark memories for many people in Florida. Last fall, Hurricane Ian caused tremendous damage in Florida, killing more than a hundred people. At that time, the center of the storm was in the southwest of the state in a more densely populated area. At that time, "Ian" swept across coastal cities like Naples at around 240 kilometers per hour and flooded entire districts.

According to meteorologists, the category four hurricane was moving comparatively slowly at the time and therefore caused particularly great damage. For many people in Florida, "Ian" is still present. "Idalia" now hit a region that has not experienced a severe hurricane for many years.