Tropical Storm Gordon hits southern Florida, spins toward U.S. Gulf Coast

FILE PHOTO: Homes sit on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico in the Myrtle Grove Estates development in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, U.S. October 7, 2017. REUTERS/Jessica Resnick-Ault/File Photo

By Jon Herskovitz and Rich McKay

(Reuters) – A tropical storm whipped the southern tip of Florida with high winds and rain on Monday morning and was forecast to gain strength as it passed over the Gulf of Mexico toward Louisiana, officials said.

Tropical Storm Gordon was forecast to drop as much as 8 inches (20 cm) of rain in some areas of the U.S. South still reeling from hurricanes a year ago.

The storm was generating winds of 45 miles per hour (72 km/h) on Monday as it steamed west-northwest at 17 miles an hour (27 km/h), National Hurricane Center Director Kenneth Graham said in a video briefing on Facebook.

“It looks like for the next three or four days we’re going to be having to really watch close,” Graham said, “and remember if you’re even inland you can get some of these heavy rainfall totals so now is the time to be prepared.”

Last year, hurricanes walloped Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, causing thousands of deaths, hundreds of billions of dollars in damage, massive power outages and devastation to hundreds of thousands of structures.

The National Hurricane Center warned of high winds around parts of Florida as the storm passed over the southern tip of the state on Monday morning.

The storm was expected to strengthen over the Gulf of Mexico, and reach the central Gulf Coast states of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana late on Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center said.

At the mouth of the Mississippi River, around the area of New Orleans, the storm could generate a surge of up to 4 feet (1 meter) and smaller surges could hit coastland along other parts of the Gulf Coast, Graham said.

“The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline,” the National Hurricane Center said in a statement.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said on Sunday he had activated the state’s Crisis Action Team as a precaution.

There were no immediate indications that the storm had affected energy operations in the Gulf of Mexico area.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta, Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank McGurty and Andrea Ricci)

Two dead in North Carolina landslide as Alberto no longer a storm

Subtropical Storm Alberto is pictured nearing the Florida Panhandle in this May 27, 2018 NASA handout photo. NASA/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) – Two people were killed after floods triggered a landslide in North Carolina, as Alberto was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone with diminished rainfall by the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) on Thursday.

Rescue workers found two bodies after being alerted late Wednesday that the landslide had destroyed a home in Boone, North Carolina, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, said Jeff Virginia, spokesman for Watauga County Emergency Management.

Local media reported that heavy rains caused the landslide which triggered a gas explosion.

Video images posted to Twitter by the Boone Police Department showed an apparently charred home reduced to rubble.

Alberto has becomes a post-tropical cyclone as it attempts to exit northeastern lower Michigan, and a heavy rainfall threat is fading near its center, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest advisory.

The system is located about 20 miles (30 km) west south-west of Alpena, Michigan with maximum sustained winds of 30 miles per hour (45 km/h), the weather forecaster said.

“Flash flood watches remain in effect for the western Carolinas, northwest Virginia, and far eastern west Virginia,” the NHC added.

(Reporting by Arpan Varghese and Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru, and Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Toby Chopra and Bernadette Baum)

Tropical storm Eliakim kills 17 in Madagascar: authorities

The aftermath of the tropical storm Eliakim near Manambonitra, Atsinanana region, Madagascar, March 18, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media. Erino Razafimanana/ via REUTERS

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) – At least 17 people died when a tropical storm hit eastern Madagascar over the weekend, authorities said.

More than 6,000 people were displaced by the storm, called Eliakim, the National Office of Risk and Disaster Management said in a statement late on Sunday.

The tropical storm hit the island’s Mananara region, 635 km north-east of Antananarivo, on Saturday night and had a wind speed of 85 km per hour and gusts of 120 km per hour.

In January, the island’s disaster management office said Tropical Cyclone Ava killed 51 people.

(Reporting by Lovasoa Rabary; writing by Clement Uwiringiyimana; editing by Jason Neely)

Landslides kill 26 in storm-hit Philippine province

A general view shows search, retrieval, and relief operations ongoing at the flooded areas at Tzu Chi Village in Barangay Liloan, Phillipines, December 17, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media. ORMOC CITY POLICE OFFICE/via REUTERS

MANILA (Reuters) – At least 26 people were killed while several residents were missing in an island province in central Philippines after tropical storm Kai-tak brought heavy rains that triggered landslides, local authorities and media said on Sunday.

Kai-tak cut power supplies in many areas, forced the cancellation of several flights, stranded more than 15,000 people in various ports in the region and prompted nearly 88,000 people to seek shelter in evacuation centers.

An aerial shot shows an impassable Caraycaray Bridge after it was destroyed when Typhoon Kai-tak, locally name Urduja, ravaged Biliran Province, Philippines December 18, 2017. Malacanang Presidential Photo/Handout via REUTERS

An aerial shot shows an impassable Caraycaray Bridge after it was destroyed when Typhoon Kai-tak, locally name Urduja, ravaged Biliran Province, Philippines December 18, 2017. Malacanang Presidential Photo/Handout via REUTERS

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office of Biliran island said 26 residents had died, but the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) has yet to make any official announcement about fatalities.

Biliran Governor Gerardo Espina Jr confirmed the deaths in an interview with DZMM radio, with 23 people still missing, he said.

“We received reports of three deaths coming from the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) but these are for confirmation,” said NDRRMC spokeswoman Romina Marasigan. “We are still trying to check the others.”

Many areas were flooded, damaging crops and infrastructure.

Kai-tak has weakened to a tropical depression after barrelling through the eastern region of Visayas on Saturday, hitting islands and coastal towns such as Tacloban City where supertyphoon Haiyan claimed 8,000 lives in 2013.

Locally known as Urduja, Kai-tak was packing winds of 55 kilometers (31 miles) per hour with gusts of up to 80 km/h, according to a weather bureau bulletin issued at 2000 GMT.

(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz, editing by David Evans)

Three dead as Storm Ophelia batters Ireland

Three dead as Storm Ophelia batters Ireland

By Clodagh Kilcoyne

LAHINCH, Ireland (Reuters) – Three people died as Tropical Storm Ophelia battered Ireland’s southern coast on Monday, knocking down trees and power lines and whipping up 10-metre (30-foot) waves.

Over 360,000 homes and businesses were without electricity with another 100,000 outages expected by nightfall, Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board said, describing it as an unprecedented event that would effect every part of the country for days.

Around 170 flights from Ireland’s two main airports at Dublin and Shannon were canceled.

Two people were killed in separate incidents when trees fell on their cars — a woman in her 50s in the south east and a man on the east coast. Another man in his 30s died while trying to clear a fallen tree in an incident involving a chainsaw.

The storm, downgraded from a hurricane overnight, was the worst to hit Ireland in half a century. It made landfall after 10:40 a.m. (0940 GMT), the Irish National Meteorological Service said, with winds as strong as 190 kph (110 mph) hitting the most southerly tip of the country. Coastal flooding was likely.

“This storm is still very active and there are still very dangerous conditions in parts of the country. Do not be lulled into thinking this has passed,” the chairman of Ireland’s National Emergency Coordination Group, Sean Hogan, told national broadcaster RTE.

The Galway Atlantaquaria National Aquarium of Ireland building is seen submerged in floodwater during Storm Ophelia in Galway, Ireland October 16, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

The Galway Atlantaquaria National Aquarium of Ireland building is seen submerged in floodwater during Storm Ophelia in Galway, Ireland October 16, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

The armed forces were sent to bolster flood defenses, public transport services and hospitals were closed and schools across Ireland and Northern Ireland will remain shut for a second day on Tuesday.

Hundreds of roads were blocked by fallen trees, Hogan said. Photos on social media showed roofs flying off buildings, including at Cork City soccer club’s Turner’s Cross stadium where the roof of one stand had collapsed.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar advised people to stay indoors. The transport minister said it was not safe to drive.

The storm winds were due to peak between 1600 GMT and 1800 GMT in Dublin and Galway, two of Ireland’s most populous cities, and later on Monday in northern areas.

Britain’s meteorological service put an Amber Weather Warning into effect for Northern Ireland from 1400-2100 GMT, saying the storm posed a danger to life and was likely to cause transport cancellations, power cuts and flying debris.

It is expected to move towards western Scotland overnight and “impactful weather” is expected in other western and northern parts of the United Kingdom, it said.

British media are comparing Ophelia to the “Great Storm” of 1987, which subjected parts of the United Kingdom to hurricane strength winds 30 years ago to the day.

The Irish government said the storm was likely to be the worst since Hurricane Debbie, which killed 11 in Ireland in 1961.

It passed close to a western Ireland golf course owned by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been planning a wall to protect its greens from coastal erosion.

Similar storms in the past have changed the shape of stretches of the Irish coastline, climatologists said.

(Additional reporting and writing by Padraic Halpin and Conor Humphries; Editing by Catherine Evans)

One dead as Storm Ophelia batters Ireland

A lighthouse is seen as storm Ophelia approaches South Stack in Anglesey, Wales, Britain, October 16, 2017

By Clodagh Kilcoyne

LAHINCH, Ireland (Reuters) – A woman was killed as Tropical Storm Ophelia battered Ireland’s southern coast on Monday, knocking down trees and power lines and whipping up 10-metre (30-foot) waves.

Over 230,000 homes and businesses were without electricity with more outages expected and almost 150 flights were canceled from Ireland’s two main airports at Dublin and Shannon.

The woman in her 50s was killed by a tree falling on her car in the southeastern county of Waterford, police said. A female passenger in her 70s was injured. Police corrected an earlier report that the victim was in her 20s.

The storm, downgraded from a hurricane overnight, was the worst to hit Ireland in half a century. It made landfall after 10:40 a.m. (0940 GMT), the Irish National Meteorological Service said, with winds as strong as 176 kph (110 mph) hitting the most southerly tip of the country and flooding likely.

“These gusts are life-threatening. Do not be out there,” the chairman of Ireland’s National Emergency Coordination Group, Sean Hogan, said on national broadcaster RTE.

Schools, hospitals and public transport services were closed and the armed forces were sent to bolster flood defences. Photos on social media showed the roof of a stand at Cork City soccer club’s Turner’s Cross stadium had collapsed.

Hurricane Ophelia image captured by NASA is seen in space, October 14, 2017 in this still obtained from social media.

Hurricane Ophelia image captured by NASA is seen in space, October 14, 2017 in this still obtained from social media. NASA SPORT/ via REUTERS

Hurricane force winds are expected in every part of the country, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said, advising people to stay indoors. The transport minister said it was not safe to drive.

“While the storm in some parts of the country is not yet that bad, it is coming your way,” Varadkar told a news conference.

Britain’s meteorological service put an Amber Weather Warning into effect for Northern Ireland from 1400-2100 GMT, saying the storm posed a danger to life and was likely to cause transport cancellations, power cuts and flying debris.

“Impactful weather” is expected in other western and northern parts of the United Kingdom, it said.

British media are comparing Ophelia to the “Great Storm” of 1987, which subjected parts of the United Kingdom to hurricane strength winds 30 years ago to the day.

The storm is expected to move towards western Scotland overnight.

The Irish government said the storm was likely to be the worst since Hurricane Debbie, which killed 11 in Ireland in 1961.

It is likely to pass close to a west of Ireland golf course owned by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been planning a wall to protect its greens from coastal erosion.

Similar sized storms in the past have changed the shape of stretches of the Irish coastline, climatologists said.

 

(Additional reporting and writing by Padraic Halpin and Conor Humphries; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Robin Pomeroy)

 

Weakening Nate brings rain, tornado warnings to U.S. South

A man sits on a bench overlooking a beach covered in debris scattered by Hurricane Nate, in Biloxi, Mississippi, U.S.,

By Rod Nickel and Jessica Resnick-Ault

BILOXI/PASCAGOULA, Miss. (Reuters) – Hurricane Nate weakened to a tropical depression on Sunday after coming ashore in Mississippi, flooding roads and buildings but sparing the state from catastrophic damages.

Maximum sustained winds from Nate, the fourth major storm to hit the United States in less than two months, dropped to 35 miles per hour (55 km per hour) as it moved through Alabama and into Tennessee.

The remnants of the storm spawned tornado warnings in those states and the western portions of North Carolina and South Carolina. It is forecast to bring gusty winds and up to 4 inches (10 cm) of rain to parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York on Monday.

The storm made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane, the weakest designation by the U.S. National Hurricane Center. Only a few hours earlier, its winds had been blowing at 70 mph (113 kph) but appeared to lack the devastating punch of its recent predecessors.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant told reporters there had been no deaths or reports of catastrophic damage. “We are very fortunate this morning and have been blessed,” he said.

Nate killed at least 30 people in Central America before entering the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and bearing down on the U.S. South. It has also shut down most oil and gas production in the Gulf.

Nate follows hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, which have devastated areas of the Caribbean and southern United States.

The tropical depression’s center will move up through Alabama into Tennessee and Kentucky through Monday, the hurricane center said. Heavy rainfall and storm-surge flooding remained a danger across the region, and the hurricane center said Florida’s Panhandle and parts of Alabama and Georgia might feel tropical storm-force wind gusts.

The storm was expected to bring three to six inches of rain to parts of western North Carolina through midday Monday, with up to 10 inches possible in isolated spots. Power outages, damaged homes and roads closed by debris were all reported in the region.

Nate made its first U.S. landfall on Saturday evening near the mouth of the Mississippi River and then made a second one early on Sunday near Biloxi, Mississippi.

In Biloxi, water surged over roads during the storm and quickly receded on Sunday, leaving a boat that broke loose marooned on the beach. At a Waffle House restaurant, the storm surge deposited a dumpster in its parking lot.

Jeff Pickich, a 46-year-old wine salesman from D’Iberville, Mississippi, was counting his blessings. Heavy winds left only minor damage, blowing down part of a fence on his rental property in Biloxi.

“I’m just glad,” he said, digging fresh holes for fence posts. “I was afraid of the water. The water is Mother Nature. You can’t stop it.”

Water flowed through Ursula Staten’s yard in Biloxi, pushing over part of her fence and scattering debris, but did not breach her house.

“I have a mess,” the retired massage therapist said. “If we had got Irma, I would have lost everything.”

At the Golden Nugget Casino, one of eight Biloxi gaming establishments, workers rushed to clean up mud, debris and minor damage from 3 feet (1 m) of water sloshing into an entrance and the parkade. The gaming room stayed dry.

Three hundred guests remained in the hotel, some eager to try their luck after surviving Nate.

But dangers from the storm remain, with Florida Governor Rick Scott warning of tornadoes springing up in the Panhandle region and Alabama Governor Kay Ivey urging residents to prepare for strong winds and storm surges.

U.S. President Donald Trump declared federal emergencies in Alabama and Florida on Sunday, which provides additional funding for disaster relief.

Mississippi Power had restored electricity to 10,000 customers, but 4,800 were still without it. More than 1,000 people had arrived at shelters, the state Emergency Management Agency said.

Alabama Power said it had restored electricity to 58,000 of 146,000 customers who lost it.

Rainfall of 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 cm), with a maximum of 10 inches (25 cm), was expected east of the Mississippi River in Alabama and Tennessee, the hurricane center said.

Residents walk down a street covered in debris scattered by Hurricane Nate, in Biloxi, Mississippi, U.S., October 8, 2017.

Residents walk down a street covered in debris scattered by Hurricane Nate, in Biloxi, Mississippi, U.S., October 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

NEW ORLEANS THREAT DOWNGRADED

Forecast at one point to make landfall in Louisiana, Nate headed farther east and spared many New Orleans parishes that were devastated by Hurricane Katrina 12 years ago.

“I had prayed for this – that we would be spared,” said Amos Cormier, president of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana’s equivalent to a county.

Bernice Barthelemy, a 70-year-old Louisiana resident, died from cardiac arrest overnight after telling Reuters on Saturday that she did not mind having to evacuate, Cormier said on Sunday. He attributed her death to the stress of the move.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said he expected that evacuated residents could return home soon.

Vessel traffic and port operations at New Orleans resumed on Sunday afternoon, while the Port of Mobile in Alabama remained closed. Oil ports, producers and refiners in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama were planning reopenings as the storm moved inland on Sunday.

Heavy rain is seen at Orange Beach, Alabama, U.S. as Hurricane Nate approaches, on October 7, 2017 in this still image taken from a video obtained via social media. Jacob Kiper, Owensboro, KY/Social Media via REUTERS

Heavy rain is seen at Orange Beach, Alabama, U.S. as Hurricane Nate approaches, on October 7, 2017 in this still image taken from a video obtained via social media. Jacob Kiper, Owensboro, KY/Social Media via REUTERS

The storm curtailed 92 percent of daily oil production and 77 percent of daily natural gas output in the Gulf of Mexico, more than three times the amount affected by Harvey.

The storm doused Central America with heavy rains on Thursday, killing at least 16 people in Nicaragua, 10 in Costa Rica, two in Honduras and two in El Salvador.

 

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Biloxi, Miss. and Jessica Resnick-Ault in Pascagoula, Miss.; Additional reporting by Marianna Parraga, Erwin Seba and Gary McWilliams in Houston; Jonathan Allen in New York; Writing by Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Peter Cooney)

 

Tropical Storm Nate kills 22 in Central America, heads for U.S.

Tropical Storm Nate kills 22 in Central America, heads for U.S.

By Enrique Andres Pretel

SAN JOSE (Reuters) – Tropical Storm Nate killed at least 22 people in Central America on Thursday as it pummeled the region with heavy rain while heading toward Mexico’s Caribbean resorts and the U.S. Gulf Coast, where it could strike as a hurricane this weekend.

In Nicaragua, at least 11 people died, seven others were reported missing and thousands had to evacuate homes because of flooding, said the country’s vice president Rosario Murillo.

Emergency officials in Costa Rica reported that at least eight people were killed due to the lashing rain, including two children. Another 17 people were missing, while more than 7,000 had to take refuge from Nate in shelters, authorities said.

Two youths also drowned in Honduras due to the sudden swell in a river, while a man was killed in a mud slide in El Salvador and another person was missing, emergency services said.

“Sometimes we think we think we can cross a river and the hardest thing to understand is that we must wait,” Nicaragua’s Murillo told state radio, warning people to avoid dangerous waters. “It’s better to be late than not to get there at all.”

Costa Rica’s government declared a state of emergency, closing schools and all other non-essential services.

Highways in the country were closed due to mudslides and power outages were also reported in parts of country, where authorities deployed more than 3,500 police.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Nate could produce as much as 15 inches (38 cm) in some areas of Nicaragua, where schools were also closed.

Nate is predicted to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane by the time it hits the U.S. Gulf Coast on Sunday, NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.

At about 11 p.m. EDT (0300 GMT) Nate was some 95 miles (153 km) east-southeast of the Honduran island of Guanaja, moving northwest at 12 mph (19 kph), the NHC said.

Blowing maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (64 kph), Nate was expected to move across eastern Honduras on Thursday and enter the northwestern Caribbean Sea through the night.

The storm will be near hurricane intensity when it approaches Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula late on Friday, where up to 8 inches (20 cm) of rain were possible, the NHC said.

Nate is expected to produce 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm)of rain in southern Honduras, with up to 15 inches (38 cm) in some areas, the NHC said.

The NHC said a hurricane watch was issued from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Mississippi-Alabama border, including metropolitan New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain, and Lake Maurepas.

U.S. officials from Florida to Texas told residents on Thursday to prepare for the storm. A state of emergency was declared for 29 Florida counties and the city of New Orleans.

“The threat of the impact is increasing, so folks along the northern Gulf Coast should be paying attention to this thing,” the NHC’s Feltgen said.

In Mississippi, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to release as a precautionary measure 40 million gallons (151 million liters) of acidic water from storage ponds at a Pascagoula waste site.

The release to a drainage bayou is intended to prevent a greater spill during the storm, the EPA said, adding there are no anticipated impacts to the environment.

Major Gulf of Mexico offshore oil producers including Chevron <CVX.N>, BP plc <BP.L>, Exxon Mobil Corp <XOM.N>, Royal Dutch Shell Plc <RDSa.L> and Statoil <STL.OL> were shutting in production or withdrawing personnel from their offshore Gulf platforms, they said.

About 14.6 percent of U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil production and 6.4 percent of natural gas production was offline on Thursday, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said.

(Reporting by Enrique Andres Pretel in San Jose, Oswaldo Rivas in Managua, Elida Moreno in Panama City, Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa, Nelson Renteria in San Salvador, Sofia Menchu in Guatemala City, Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Daina Beth Solomon in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Nallur Sethuraman and Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Writing by David Alire Garcia and Bernie Woodall; Editing by Alistair Bell, Sandra Maler and Tom Hogue)

Tropical Storm Irma floods northern Florida cities after hammering south

A partially submerged car is seen at a flooded area in Coconut Grove as Hurricane Irma arrives at south Florida, in Miami, Florida, U.S., September 10, 2017.

By Zachary Fagenson and Daniel Trotta

MIAMI/KISSIMMEE, Fla. (Reuters) – Downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, Irma flooded several northern Florida cities with heavy rain and a high storm surge on Monday as it headed out of the state after cutting power to millions and ripping roofs off homes.

Irma, once ranked as one of the most powerful hurricanes recorded in the Atlantic, hit a wide swath of Florida over the past day, first making landfall on the Florida Keys archipelago and then coming ashore south of Naples before heading up the west coast.

Now a tropical storm with sustained winds of up to 70 miles per hour (110 km per hour), Irma was located about 35 miles (56 km) west of Gainesville and headed up the Gulf Coast, the National Hurricane Center said at 8 a.m. ET (1200 GMT).

The Cuban government reported on Monday that 10 people had been killed after Irma battered the island’s north coast with ferocious winds and 36-foot (11-meter) waves over the weekend. This raised the overall death toll from Irma’s powerful rampage through the Caribbean to 38.

Northeastern Florida cities including Jacksonville were facing flash flooding, with the city’s sheriff’s office pulling residents from waist-deep water.

“Stay inside. Go up. Not out,” Jacksonville’s website warned residents. “There is flooding throughout the city and more rain is expected.”

 

HEART-POUNDING NIGHT

After what she called a terrifying night bunkered in her house in St. Petersburg, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, with her children and extended family, Julie Hally emerged with relief on Monday. The winds had toppled some large tree branches and part of a fence, but her house was undamaged.

“My heart just pounded out of my chest the whole time,” said Hally, 37. “You hear stuff hitting your roof. It honestly sounds like somebody is just whistling at your window the whole night. It’s really scary.”

Governor Rick Scott said he would travel later on Monday to the Florida Keys. Irma first came ashore at Cudjoe Key as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of up to 130 mph (215 kph.)

U.S. President Donald Trump in a ceremony at the Pentagon to remember the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks vowed a full response to Irma, as well as continued federal support for victims of Hurricane Harvey, which flooded Texas.

“These are storms of catastrophic severity and we are marshalling the full resources of the federal government to help our fellow Americans,” Trump said. “When Americans are in need, Americans pull together and we are one country.”

The state’s largest city, Miami, was spared the brunt of the storm but still saw heavy flooding. Utility crews were already on the streets there clearing downed trees and utility lines. All causeways leading to Miami Beach were closed by police.

As it traveled through the center of the state early on Monday, Irma brought gusts of up to 100 mph (160 kph) and torrential rain to areas around Orlando, one of the most popular areas for tourism in Florida because of its cluster of theme parks, the National Weather Service said.

A piece of a McDonald’s “golden arch” sign hung in a tree near the fast-food restaurant in the central Florida city of Kissimmee on Monday morning. Valerie Gilleece, 55, had ridden out the storm in the city because her wheelchair-bound husband insisted on it, she said.

“I’m just thanking God to be alive,” Gilleece said. “I wanted to go from the start but he’s stubborn as hell.”

Over the weekend, Irma claimed its first U.S. fatality – a man found dead in a pickup truck that had crashed into a tree in high winds in the town of Marathon, in the Florida Keys, local officials said.

During its passage through the Caribbean en route to Florida, Irma was ranked at the rare top end of the scale of hurricane intensity, a Category 5, for days. It carried maximum sustained winds of up to 185 mph (295 kph) when it crashed into the island of Barbuda on Wednesday.

Ahead of Irma’s arrival, some 6.5 million people in southern Florida, about a third of the state’s population, were ordered to evacuate their homes. Some 200,000 were housed in shelters during the storm, according to federal officials.

 

DAMAGE ESTIMATES

The storm did some $20 billion to $40 billion in damage to insured property as it tore through Florida, catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide estimated.

That estimate, lower than earlier forecasts of up to $50 billion in insured losses, drove insurance company shares higher on Monday. Florida-based insurers Federated National, HCI Group and Universal Insurance were all up more than 12 percent. Meanwhile, Europe’s insurance index was the biggest sectoral gainer, up 2 percent and set for its best day in more than four months.

High winds snapped power lines and left about 5.8 million Florida homes and businesses without power, state data showed.

Miami International Airport, one of the busiest in the country, halted passenger flights through at least Monday. According to the FlightAware.com tracking site, a total of 3,582 U.S. flights were canceled on Monday, mostly as a result of the storm.

Irma was forecast to cross the eastern Florida Panhandle and move into southern Georgia later in the day, dumping as much as 16 inches (41 cm) of rain, government forecasters said.

Police in Miami-Dade County said they had made 29 arrests for looting and burglary.

 

(Additional reporting by Bernie Woodall, Ben Gruber and Andy Sullivan in Miami, Letitia Stein in Detroit, Colleen Jenkins in Winston-Salem, N.C., Doina Chiacu and Jeff Mason in Washington, Scott DiSavino in New York and Marc Frank in Havana; Writing by Scott Malone and Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Frances Kerry and Paul Simao)

 

At least three dead as Lidia slams Mexico’s Los Cabos tourist hub

At least three dead as Lidia slams Mexico's Los Cabos tourist hub

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – At least three people died after torrential rain from Tropical Storm Lidia provoked major flooding around Mexico’s popular Los Cabos beach resort on Friday, authorities said.

Featuring maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour (97 kph), the storm was projected to move north over a large swath of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula before turning west toward the Pacific on Sunday.

Local television footage showed abandoned cars and trucks in washed-out roads, as well as destroyed beach-front structures.

Lidia, about 55 miles (89 km) north-northeast of Cabo San Lazaro, was moving at a speed of 12 miles per hour (19 kmh) as it skirted the western coast of the peninsula, according to an advisory from the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Luis Felipe Puente, the head of national emergency services, told Reuters that the storm claimed a child and two adults who were trying to cross a raging river.

Lidia also provoked power outages, damaged houses and roads, as well as forcing some 2,800 people into local shelters.

While the storm is forecast to further weaken over the next couple of days, it is expected to dump between 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm) of rain across the peninsula as well as parts of Sinaloa and Sonora states.

“These rains may cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides,” the NHC said in its advisory.

(Reporting by Miguel Angel Gutierrez; Writing by Julia Love; Editing by David Alire Garcia and James Dalgleish)