Tropical Depression Grace Makes Landfall in Haiti

A tropical storm watch was in effect for the entire coast of earthquake-battered Haiti, where heavy rain may lead to mudslides, the National Hurricane Center said.,


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Tropical Depression Grace made landfall in Haiti on Monday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center said, bringing the potential for mudslides and flooding that could hamper recovery efforts from a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the country two days earlier.

Several inches of rain could complicate search-and-rescue efforts after the earthquake collapsed thousands of homes and made some roads and bridges impassable.

“That heavy rainfall can really lead to life-threatening flooding and mudslides and potentially urban flooding as well,” Michael Brennan, the branch chief of the center’s hurricane specialist unit, said on Monday.

The center said in an advisory on Monday afternoon that the storm was about 70 miles southeast of Port-au-Prince, the capital, moving west at 12 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds of 35 m.p.h. The center said that it expected “little change” in Grace’s strength over the next couple of days. The system was previously a tropical storm, but its wind speeds decreased slightly on Sunday.

A tropical storm watch continued for the entire coast of Haiti and for Jamaica, while the Cayman Islands and parts of Cuba were placed under a tropical storm warning.

The storm could dump five to 10 inches of rain in Haiti, with isolated totals up to 15 inches, the center said. Heavy rainfall could lead to flooding and mudslides on Monday and into Tuesday, it added. The Dominican Republic could also see similar rainfall totals.

One video from Les Cayes, Haiti, showed residents, fearing tsunami warnings triggered by the quake, fleeing a surge of seawater flooding a street on Saturday. The U.S. Tsunami Warning Center initially reported a tsunami threat for some coasts, though the threat was later rescinded.

Grace’s arrival in Haiti intensified the need for help in recovering from the earthquake. Prime Minister Ariel Henry of Haiti on Monday vowed that there would be a “tenfold” increase in rescue and aid efforts to the quake-ravaged southern peninsula of his country, as he privately expressed frustration to the American ambassador at the slow rollout of help.

“We will act with greater speed,” Mr. Henry said in on Twitter. “Aid management will be sped up. We are going to increase our energies tenfold to reach, in terms of assistance, the maximum number of victims possible.”

Grace is the seventh named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, following several days of floods and power outages unleashed this week by Fred, the sixth named storm of the season. Fred dissipated on Saturday, but its remnants redeveloped into a tropical storm on Sunday. The western Florida Panhandle was bracing for a dangerous storm surge as Fred gained strength and moved toward landfall on Monday night, the hurricane center said.

A third Atlantic storm, also a tropical depression, was picking up strength on Monday and was expected to become the eighth named storm of the hurricane season. It was tracking 135 miles east-southeast of Bermuda, where a tropical storm watch was in effect.

While it is not uncommon for there to be several active weather systems at once during hurricane season, forecasters said, it is somewhat unusual to have three with tropical storm watches or warnings for land areas at the same time.

“It’s a busy period here,” said Dr. Brennan of the hurricane center.

The links between hurricanes and climate change are becoming more apparent. A warming planet can expect to see stronger hurricanes over time, and a higher incidence of the most powerful storms — though the overall number of storms could drop, because factors like stronger wind shear could keep weaker storms from forming.

How Do Hurricanes Form?

John SchwartzReporting on the climate

How Do Hurricanes Form?

John SchwartzReporting on the climate

Hoboken, N.J., after Elsa.Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Hurricane season is well underway; the fifth named storm, Elsa, hit Florida and caused flooding into the Northeast in early July.

Where do they come from? ->

How Do Hurricanes Form?

John SchwartzReporting on the climate

Atlantic hurricanes get their start in Africa. Wind blowing westward off of the coast hits warm ocean water and under the right conditions, storms can form.

The difference in temperature between the air and the sea powers storms.

Inside the storm moisture evaporates and rises, drawing in new air that swirls in behind it.

The rising moisture cools and forms storm clouds, releasing heat. Nudged by Earth’s rotation, the system spins faster and faster.

How Do Hurricanes Form?

John SchwartzReporting on the climate

Lake Charles, La.William Widmer for The New York Times

If wind shear doesn’t disrupt it, the storm will grow and move where the winds steer it. As it wanders to the west, it may harmlessly drift back out to sea or hit land, bringing disaster.

How Do Hurricanes Form?

John SchwartzReporting on the climate

When wind speeds hit 39 miles per hour it’s a tropical storm. At 74 mph, a hurricane. The strongest is Category 5, with winds over 157 mph.

Hurricanes have always occurred so scientists don’t say that climate change is “causing” storms. But the warming planet is affecting them in several ways.

How Do Hurricanes Form?

John SchwartzReporting on the climate

How? Warmer ocean waters give energy to storms, and climate change appears to be making strong Atlantic hurricanes even stronger than they otherwise might be.

A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, so storms are becoming rainier; many also move more slowly than before, and dump more rain.

Higher sea levels also make storm surge worse. Weather experts warn that the biggest risk of most hurricanes is water, not wind.

How Do Hurricanes Form?

John SchwartzReporting on the climate


Last year’s hurricane season was a record breaker on many levels. Forecasters said in May and again in August that 2021 shouldn’t be as active, but a single storm making landfall can wreak tremendous destruction.

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Hurricanes are also becoming wetter because of more water vapor in the warmer atmosphere; scientists have suggested storms like Hurricane Harvey in 2017 produced far more rain than they would have without the human effects on climate. Also, rising sea levels are contributing to higher storm surge — the most destructive element of tropical cyclones.

A major United Nations climate report released in August warned that nations have delayed curbing their fossil-fuel emissions for so long that they can no longer stop global warming from intensifying over the next 30 years, leading to more frequent life-threatening heat waves and severe droughts. Tropical cyclones have likely become more intense over the past 40 years, the report said, a shift that cannot be explained by natural variability alone.

Ana became the first named storm of the season on May 23, making this the seventh year in a row that a named storm developed in the Atlantic before the official start of the season on June 1.

In May, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast that there would be 13 to 20 named storms this year, six to 10 of which would be hurricanes, and three to five major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher in the Atlantic. In early August, in a midseason update to the forecast, they continued to warn that this year’s hurricane season would be an above average one, suggesting a busy end to the season.

Matthew Rosencrans of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that an updated forecast suggested that there would be 15 to 21 named storms, including seven to 10 hurricanes, by the end of the season on Nov. 30.

Last year, there were 30 named storms, including six major hurricanes, forcing meteorologists to exhaust the alphabet for the second time and move to using Greek letters.

It was the highest number of storms on record, surpassing the 28 from 2005, and included the second-highest number of hurricanes on record.

Alyssa Lukpat, Jesus Jimenez, Neil Vigdor, Maria Abi-Habib and Andre Paulte contributed reporting.

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