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Wilma hits Florida, Alpha breaks record

作者:辜氯盹    发布时间:2019-02-28 04:15:05    

By Jeff Hecht (Image: NASA) Hurricane Wilma was fast approaching Florida on Monday, after a weekend of pounding Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and lashing Cuba with rain. The weekend also saw the hurricane season’s record-breaking 22nd tropical storm, named Alpha, form near the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean. At 0630 EDT on Monday, Wilma made landfall near Cape Romano, Florida. It was moving northeast at 23 miles (37 kilometres) per hour and is expected to increase in forward speed over the next 24 hours. If so, the eye of Wilma will cross the southern Florida peninsula and move into the Atlantic later on Monday. Hurricane warnings have been issued for western Cuba, Florida’s east and west coasts, Lake Okeechobee and the Florida Keys. Watch a video of Wilma heading towards Florida, from 21 to 23 October, recorded by NASA, here. Wilma is currently a Category 3 hurricane but is likely to weaken as it crosses land and can no longer gain energy from evaporating sea water. Its maximum sustained winds are near 120 mph (190 kph) and hurricane force winds extend up to 90 miles (145 km) from the centre. Wilma pounded the Mexican holiday resort of Cancun and the “Maya Riviera” for more than two full days as a Category 4 storm. Damage reports have been slow to emerge because of storm conditions and a government shut-down of electric power to prevent fires. The US National Hurricane Center warns that total rainfall in parts of The Yucatan could reach 50 inches (1.27 metres). The NHC predicts storm-surge flooding of 12 to 18 feet (3.5 to 5.5 m) above normal tides on the southwestern Florida coast near where the centre of Wilma is expected to hit. Storm surges of 5 to 9 feet (1.5 to 2.75 m) are predicted for the Florida Keys and for Lake Okeechobee, the large lake in central Florida that killed over 1800 people in 1928 when a hurricane caused it to surge beyond its banks. Alpha made landfall on the southern coast of the Dominican Republic early on Sunday. Its intensity was mild compared to Wilma’s, but it did bring heavy rains to an island prone to disastrous flash floods and mudslides. Heavy rains on Wilma’s outer fringes were blamed for at least 10 deaths in Haiti. Alpha’s passage over mountainous Hispaniola weakened it from a tropical storm to a tropical depression. By 0500 EDT on Monday, Alpha was racing away northwards from the Bahamas. The NHC expects it to be absorbed by the much larger and stronger circulation pattern of Wilma on Tuesday. Alpha marks the first time the NHC has exceeded the 21 names it allocates each year for tropical storms in the North Atlantic. Any additional tropical storms will be named after further letters from the Greek alphabet. Wilma was this year’s 12th hurricane, tying the record set in 1969. Five weeks remain in the hurricane season. More on these topics:

 

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