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.


Buber picks up the taxi challenge on the streets of Kabul

Updated 17 November 2018
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Buber picks up the taxi challenge on the streets of Kabul

  • Popular ride-hailing services such as Uber and Careem declined to run on Afghanistan’s chaotic and unmapped roads
  • Buber will be officially launched in Kabul in January 2019

KABUL: Booking a ride that picks you up from your doorstep has been a dream for many Afghans for a long time. The dream is now coming true. After the popular ride-hailing services such as Uber and Careem declined to run on Afghanistan’s chaotic and unmapped roads, a private national firm came up with a local solution: Buber.
Currently on its test run, the service will be officially launched in Kabul in January 2019.
Basharmal Dawlatzai, a Buber driver, says the initiative in a congested city where violence and criminal activities have been part of daily life for years, is a relief for both clients and drivers.
“It is very convenient for both sides, the customer does not need to walk to a street, wait for taxi in cold or hot weather and bargain with a taxi he or she does not know,” Dawlatzai told Arab News. “We go to their homes and drop them at their favored destination, which saves both sides time and hassle.”
He has been with Buber for two months and has taken around employees of Afghanistan’s Holding Group (AHG) that owns Buber, which in Dari means “Take me”.
AHG’s headquarters near the ancient Darul-Aman palace is tucked away behind blast walls with a sprawling compound that enjoys far better security measures than many state institutions which are the targets of routine attacks by militants in Afghanistan.
The security precautions at AHG include a series of body searches by armed guards as well as scanners and the layers of checks that make it look as if the compound is in top-secret location.
There is a different world and mood inside, and for a moment you may think that this is not Afghanistan, given the pace of its work and manner of efficiency. Groups of young sleek men and women are busy typing away on computers or discussing their regular daily activities.
AHG hopes to gallop and make Afghanistan catch up with the revolution in the field of technology that has spread across the globe in recent years.
Staff at AHG say that since its launch in 2009 the company has provided professional business services to more than 700 organizations across Afghanistan. Its clients range from small companies, non-profits and corporations to development institutions and government customers. It offers a range of services that include legal and human resources support and assistance with licensing, visas, payroll, taxation, audit and procurement.
Now, AHG is working on its new innovation, Afghanistan Technology Services (ATS), which covers Hisab (accounting) and Buber, online taxi ordering similar to Uber.
The Hisab application allows customers to pay online power and water bills and order goods for home delivery, as well as paying for Buber.
The online car ordering has been operating in Afghanistan for several years, but business is tailing off for the other two firms, which according to officials had not managed to develop an advanced application.
“Technology is taking over each and every thing across the world, we do not want to be behind those guys and we would like to reach somewhere and rebuild Afghanistan. This is our mission, to rebuild Afghanistan,” said Zaheeruddin Naeabkhail, Buber’s senior manager.
Until its launch in January Buber is on a test run to make sure that the application works smoothly. It has enlisted 500 vehicles, with Kabul being the immediate target, and with the intention to expand to other major cities later.
Not many will be able to afford the Buber service: Smart phone owners and literate people are its target.
Even the drivers will have to be literate.
In a country where there is no fixed rate for taxis and customers usually bargain, Buber will have fixed prices and can come to a customer’s desired address for pick up.
In a country riven by violence and crimes, such as abductions, Buber can offer peace of mind to clients as it has a tracking mechanism which clients can share with anyone they want to for their safety, AHG officials said.
“The problem for now in the market is the security concern. We have this facility for the user as well as the driver that allows them to be able to track users through our GPS,” Naeabkhail said.
Drivers will be registered with full details for security measures and they can help the police with information if anything happens to a client between pickup and drop-off.
The application can be a great help for the customer to avoid congested areas and routes where there is protest or there has been an attack, officials said, adding this will save time for the client and money for the driver, as well as reducing pollution.
“This application is very challenging application, nobody else has it, it is not easy for others to build it easily. Afghans have developed the application themselves,” Naeabkhail said.
Roadblocks created by officials, some embassies, foreign troops and factional leaders are the key challenges and Buber hopes to address that with the help of Google, he said.
“The main challenge that we face is the map, because Afghanistan is not mapped very well. We would like the support of Google if they are willing to help us … it is like general support for the public at large and also for any company that comes later and invests.”