December 3, 2022

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6 big economic threats Hurricane Ian poses now that it has come ashore

2 min read

Tropical cyclones as powerful as Hurricane Ian threaten to wreak lasting damage to families, crops, coastlines and industries long after they roar ashore.

The initial onslaught of wind and water as well as lingering floods pose significant risks to the lives of people who didn’t evacuate. And Category 4 menaces like Ian can break power grids, flatten homes and leave many roads impassible, isolating people when they most need help. The economic ripples radiate far beyond the storm’s path.

In Ian’s case, many of these effects will be magnified because it struck the heart of Florida, America’s third most populous state. The storm packed winds of 150 miles (241 kilometers) per hour when it made landfall after 3 p.m. local time Wednesday near Cayo Costa — tied for the fifth strongest hurricane to hit the US mainland. As the US and the state begin shifting to storm response and then recovery, here are some of the threats to monitor.

Wall of water

Hurricanes push water in front of them as they move over the ocean. This is known as “storm surge,” which can cause significant coastal destruction. Low-lying geography and the shallow continental shelf in parts of western Florida make it particularly vulnerable. Ian’s projected storm surge of 12 feet (4 meters) to 18 feet could send seawater far inland.

The surge and winds Ian bring ashore will deliver a devastating blow to the cities and towns along the coast. But the heavy rains it wrings out across Florida and into Georgia, South Carolina and beyond will spread the misery — and the damages. Case in point: Walt Disney World, in the Orlando area of central Florida, issued a shelter-in-place order for hotel guests despite being about 140 miles from where the storm made landfall.

More than 2 feet of rain may fall across central Florida. The National Weather Service warns there could be record-breaking flooding on rivers throughout the state. In the next seven days flooding…

David R. Baker, Bloomberg

2022-09-28 20:04:02

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