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.


Germany: Violent Paris riots were ‘terrifying’

French President Emmanuel Macron holds a meeting in Paris on Monday. (AP)
Updated 3 min 35 sec ago
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Germany: Violent Paris riots were ‘terrifying’

  • Minister promises a review of instructions given to police officers
  • Macron has vowed “strong” measures to quell the violence

PARIS: A German government spokesman said on Monday that the street violence that rocked central Paris during weekend “yellow vest” protests was “terrifying.”

“The outbreak of violence and destructive rage in Paris this past weekend was terrifying,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert.

“It has nothing to do with peaceful, democratic protests and the German government supports the French government in its efforts to guarantee public order.”

The famous Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris was hit by an arson and looting rampage by black-clad anarchists during a “yellow vest” protest on Saturday.

Police appeared overwhelmed as demonstrators ran amok on the avenue, with retailers there saying some 80 shops and businesses were vandalized.

Police used tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon to repel protesters who gathered at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe war memorial, which had already been sacked on Dec. 1.

It was the 18th consecutive weekend of demonstrations which began in mid-November.

Business owners on the iconic Champs-Elysees avenue were fuming on Monday as President Emmanuel Macron met with Interior Minister Christophe Castaner and Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet to weigh their response to an 18th consecutive Saturday of “yellow vest” demonstrations.

The government’s failure to keep the protests from spiralling out of control has put a harsh spotlight on its law enforcement strategy.

“You have to take responsibility and engage, with the possibility that people will get hurt,” said Frederic Lagache of the Alliance police union.

For decades French authorities have usually preferred the opposite, putting down mass protests with tear gas and rubber bullets but avoiding physical clashes against large groups.

“They would rather see a building damaged, with insurance companies footing the bill, than risk direct contact between police and demonstrators that might cause serious injuries or death,” said Olivier Cahn at France’s CESDIP law enforcement research institute.

Macron has vowed “strong” measures to quell the violence, and has already pledged an anti-hooligan law that would let authorities pre-emptively detain protesters with a known history of violence.

“The idea seems to be, if the violence persists, you have to be more repressive,” Cahn said. “That doesn’t do anything except make the protesters even more determined,” he said.

Junior Interior Minister Laurent Nunez admitted on RTL radio that police “were less aggressive, less reactive than usual” over the weekend, promising a review of the instructions given to officers and their deployment.

But critics say that after more than three months of weekly protests, the government needs more than pledges of determined action, and should drastically rethink its approach for stamping out the rioting.

“There are techniques and strategies for separating violent demonstrators from the others,” Cahn said.

“Germany has strategies for de-escalating the tensions and separating protesters that are quite effective,” he said.

However French authorities have already been accused of a heavy-handed response to the yellow vest movement.

Rights groups have tried to have the controversial “defensive ball launchers” (LBD) banned, noting that France is one of only a handful of Western countries to use them.

But the government says they allow police to avoid potentially more risky contact with protesters hurling paving stones and wielding hammers and other makeshift weapons.

Yet pressure is increasing to find a way of quelling the violence, especially when authorities are well aware that a hard core of protesters are determined to cause havoc again next Saturday.

“Every Sunday large cities across France wake up to the same old story: Smoldering barricades and a strident declaration from Christophe Castaner,” leftwing daily Liberation wrote on Monday.