The southeast coast of the United States is struggling with the effects of storm “Idalia”. This hit the coast of the state of Florida on Wednesday as a category three out of five hurricane, quickly losing strength over land and then moving on towards Georgia and South Carolina. Later that day it lost hurricane strength and was downgraded to a tropical storm. Deaths were initially not reported. Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis and the civil protection agency Fema warned of major dangers even after the storm, such as flooding or defective power lines. FEMA boss Deanne Criswell also emphasized that the extent of the storm damage cannot yet be estimated.

The National Hurricane Center NHC had previously rated “Idalia” as “extremely dangerous”. The authorities in Florida and neighboring states had been preparing for the storm for several days and warned people of the potentially dramatic effects. Classes were canceled at many schools in Florida, several airports were temporarily closed, and in a number of Florida counties people were asked to leave their homes and temporarily seek shelter with relatives, friends or in hotels.

Strongest storm in more than 100 years

“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 finally hit the Florida coast on Wednesday in the Big Bend region south of the capital Tallahassee. Fema chief Criswell said Idalia was the strongest storm to make landfall in this part of Florida in more than 100 years. After that, the storm quickly weakened into a category one out of five hurricane – and eventually into a tropical storm.

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 storm made landfall, is likely to experience the greatest damage. Well-founded statements about the effects are only possible in the coming days.

Hundreds of thousands of homes in Florida and Georgia were without power on Wednesday. Several tens of thousands of fitters were to help restore the power supply.

Governor has not yet given the all-clear

Several Florida airports resumed operations Wednesday after the storm swept across the state. DeSantis said the roads in Florida are also in better condition than initially feared. “We don’t have any confirmed deaths yet,” he said. “But that could very well change.” Criswell also warned residents of affected areas not to walk or drive into flooded areas. Unfortunately, there are often many deaths after a storm. US President Joe Biden also called for vigilance.

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. The strength of hurricanes is measured according to a scale developed by meteorologists Herbert Saffir and Robert Simpson: A Category 1 hurricane reaches wind speeds of 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.

“No one can deny the effects of the climate crisis anymore”

Last fall, Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc in Florida, killing more than 100 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 with wind speeds of around 240 kilometers per hour and flooded entire districts. “Idalia” now hit a region that has not experienced a severe hurricane for many years.

DeSantis said, on first appearances, the impact of “Idalia” is significantly less than that of “Ian”. At that time, the authorities immediately received a large number of desperate emergency calls. That was not the case this time.

According to experts, climate change is increasing the likelihood of strong storms. The USA has been struggling with extreme weather and its consequences for some time: extreme heat, droughts, severe storms, devastating forest fires, deadly floods. Biden warned with regard to the development: “I think nobody can deny the effects of the climate crisis anymore.”