Hurricane Ida, which is advancing on the United States, weakened to a tropical storm Monday (30) after wreaking havoc in the state of Louisiana over the weekend.
While the consequences are always taken into account, scientists warn of the impacts of climate change, which multiply this type of extreme event.
At least one person had died and around 1 million homes and businesses were without electricity on Sunday evening (29), according to the latest information from local authorities.
Although it weakens as it approaches southwest of the Mississippi, the storm is expected to continue to unleash heavy rains that will likely lead to flooding, the United States National Hurricane Center said.
By Tuesday (31), the storm is expected to turn into a tropical depression and reach southern Tennessee state, where record rains killed more than 20 people just under ‘one week.
In Louisiana, a man died after a tree fell. Governor John Bel Edwards said Hurricane Ida could be the strongest to hit the region in over 160 years. “We have confirmed at least one death and, unfortunately, we know there will be more. Thousands of people are without power and the affected parishes are suffering untold damage,” the Democrat said in a statement.
Houses were covered in the coastal town of Grand Isle, and the Department of Transportation reported roads to the south were impassable due to fallen trees, downed power lines and other debris left behind by heavy rains.
The mayor of the town of Jean Lafitte, Tim Kerner, described the situation as “total and catastrophic devastation”. About 200 people were isolated in the Barataria Nature Reserve, but it was not possible to rescue them by boat due to the intense wind.
In the city of New Orleans, one of the hardest hit, the emergency department was even down in the early hours of Monday. On social networks, the authorities recommended that people get help from the nearest firefighters.
The speed of destruction caused by Hurricane Ida has triggered an alert in the country. Experts interviewed by the American newspaper New York Times explain that the increase in global temperature is causing larger, more violent and faster storms and hurricanes.
One of the key factors determining the strength of these events is the temperature of the ocean surface, which has increased. Warmer waters provide more energy to fuel storms.
“It is very likely that human-caused climate change is contributing to this unusually warm ocean,” said James P. Kossin, climatologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, linked to the US Department of Commerce. “Climate change makes hurricanes more likely to behave in certain ways.”
In addition to the loss of life and material, another consequence of the passage of the hurricane was the cessation of oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico. According to information from the US Bureau of Environmental Safety and Inspection (BSEE), about 93.7% of gas production has been shut down, along with 95.7% of oil production.
To prevent workers from being injured by the hurricane, 288 manned production platforms, or about 51% of the total, were evacuated. Companies like BP, Chevron, Phillips and Shell were among those that shut down the facility.
With the move, analysts predict that oil prices are expected to rise precisely at a time of high demand in the United States during Labor Day, which Americans celebrate on the first Monday in September.
In a speech on Sunday, President Joe Biden warned that the devastation of Ida must be “immense”, even for areas far from the coast, and that the hurricane poses a “threat to life”. The White House said it will provide federal assistance to complement recovery efforts in affected areas.
The scenes observed in the United States generate comparisons with the devastating passage of Hurricane Katrina 16 years ago, which inundated predominantly black neighborhoods, claimed more than 1,800 lives and a record loss of 108 billion dollars.
The country has invested around 14 billion dollars (72.7 billion reais) in the reconstruction and adaptation of urban infrastructure, with the aim of minimizing other extreme events. With the consequences of climate change, however, scientists warn that this may not be enough.
With Reuters and the New York Times