Hurricane records broken in 2017

Updated 08 September 2017
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Hurricane records broken in 2017

PARIS: Not even halfway into the 2017 hurricane season, and before Irma makes landfall in Florida, tropical mega-storms in the Atlantic basin have already broken several records, and challenged others, experts say.
A few that stand out, so far:


Irma
As it swept across the Caribbean, Hurricane Irma generated winds averaging just over 295 kilometers per hour (185 miles per hour) for more than 33 hours, longer than any super-storm of comparable power ever recorded.
“Such an intensity, for such a long period, has never been observed in the satellite era” that began in the early 1970s, Etienne Kapikian, a forecaster at Meteo France, said.
The runner up is Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,000 people dead or missing in the Philippines and packed winds of the same speed for 24 hours in 2013.
Irma was the first hurricane on record to reach Category 5 status — the highest intensity level — while still in the Atlantic Ocean, before entering the balmy waters of the Caribbean Sea, according to the US National Hurricane Center.
Tropical storms draw strength from surface waters warmer than 26 degrees Celsius (79 degrees Fahrenheit).
The fact that the swirling mass of clouds and water was able to turbo-charge over the Atlantic — whose waters are cooler than the Caribbean but warmer than a few decades ago — is consistent with global warming, scientists say.
Category 5 tropical storms produce sustained winds of at least 252 km/h for at least a minute at a time. Irma has since dropped down to Category 4.
Hurricane Irma has so far caused more than $10 billion (8.3 billion euros) in economic losses across the Caribbean, making it the costliest storm ever for the region’s island nations and territories, according to the Center for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Technology, based in Karlsruhe, Germany.
The tally is sure to rise as the storm hits the Bahamas on its way to Florida, but it has already surpassed the damage record set by Hurricanes Ike in 2008, and Hugo in 1989, at $9.4 billion each in today’s dollars.
Hardest hit by Irma were Sint Maarten ($2.5 billion) and the US Virgin Islands ($2.45 billion), followed by Saint Martin ($1.55 billion) and the British Virgin Islands ($1.4 billion), according to the estimate.


Harvey
Tropical storm Harvey — which made landfall in Texas as a Category 4 hurricane on August 25 — dumped more rain in places than any cyclone ever measured on the continental United States.
In one area southeast of Houston, Harvey unloaded more than 125 centimeters of water (nearly 50 inches), breaking the previous record (122 cm) set by cyclone Amelia.
The highest sustained wind speed ever registered for an Atlantic basin storm was 305 km/h (190 mph), for Hurricane Allen, which caused several hundred deaths in Haiti and over a billion dollars in damage.
With consistent winds of 295 km/h, Irma shares the title of second-fastest hurricane with Wilma (2005), Gilbert (1988) and the notorious “Labor Day” storm that devastated southern Florida in 1935.


Jose
Along with Irma, the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico is host to two other hurricanes: the Category 4 Jose, projected to leave inhabited islands largely untouched on its northwest trajectory, and Category 2 Katia, due to make landfall in the Mexican state of Veracruz.
Three-at-once is not unprecedented, but it is rare — it last occurred in 2010. Those storms, however, spun harmlessly in the Atlantic, while this time, two of them are hitting land.
The event of four active hurricanes hitting at one time has happened twice — in 1893 and 1998 when Hurricanes Georges, Ivan, Jeanne and Karl all raged simultaneously.


US Senator Graham urges Trump to meet Pakistan PM Khan

Updated 11 min 17 sec ago
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US Senator Graham urges Trump to meet Pakistan PM Khan

  • US and Pakistan should have “strategic engagement”, not transactional relationship
  • The American senator sees a “unique opportunity” to change diplomatic direction of US-Pakistan ties

ISLAMABAD:  US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said on Sunday President Donald Trump should meet Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan as soon as possible to reset long-difficult US relations with Pakistan and push for a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan.

The comments, which add to growing signs of improved relations between Islamabad and Washington, come amid efforts to press on with talks between the Taliban and the United States aimed at an agreement to end 17 years of war in Afghanistan.

"I've seen things change here and all in a positive direction," Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who has generally been a staunch supporter of Trump, told a news conference in Islamabad.

He said a meeting with Khan, who has declared strong support for a peace agreement in Afghanistan, would leave Trump "far more enthusiastic about the region than he is today".

"With Prime Minister Khan we have a unique opportunity to change our relationship," he said. A previously transactional relationship, based on rewards for services rendered, should be replaced by "strategic engagement", including a free trade agreement, he said.

US relations with Pakistan have long been dogged by suspicions that elements in the Pakistani establishment were aiding the Taliban, a charge Islamabad strongly denies. However, relations have appeared to improve in recent months amid efforts to push the Taliban towards a peace deal.

Trump, who has in the past argued for the United States to withdraw from Afghanistan, has made it clear he wants to see a peace accord reached rapidly although the Taliban have so far refused to talk directly with the Afghan government.

Graham's trip to Pakistan coincided with a visit by Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, and top military commanders including General Joseph Votel, commander of US Central Command.

Khalilzad left Islamabad without announcing a new date for talks with Taliban representatives, who have refused further meetings until the US side agrees to discuss a timetable for withdrawing its forces.

The uncertainty has been increased by reports that Trump is prepared to order more than 5,000 US troops out of Afghanistan, a move that would represent a sharp change in course from Washington's previous policy of stepping up military action against the Taliban.

With Afghan forces suffering thousands of casualties a year and struggling to hold back the Taliban insurgency, the reports have caused alarm in Kabul, prompting many close to the government to question the US commitment to Afghanistan.

Asked whether there had been confusion over the US message, Graham, who has called for a Senate hearing on Trump's plans to withdraw US troops from Syria and Afghanistan, said "without a doubt" but added that he did not believe Washington would stand by and allow a Taliban victory.

"The world's not going to let the Taliban take Afghanistan over by force of arms. That would be unconscionable," he told Reuters. "Any president who let that happen would go down in history very poorly."