Ten countries and territories saw severe flooding in just 12 days. Is this the future of climate change?

September began with a storm that ripped by way of Hong Kong, uprooting bushes and flooding town. It was the primary of a slew of maximum climate occasions which have hit ten international locations and territories in simply 12 days – probably the most catastrophic being the floods in Libya, which have killed greater than 11,000 individuals based on the UN and left many hundreds lacking.

Scientists warn that some of these excessive climate occasions, affecting international locations everywhere in the world, might develop into more and more frequent because the local weather disaster accelerates, placing stress on governments to organize.

“Global warming actually changes the properties of precipitation in terms of frequency, intensity and duration,” stated Jung-Eun Chu, an atmospheric and local weather scientist on the Metropolis College of Hong Kong – although she added that this summer time’s devastation was as a consequence of a mixture of various elements together with pure local weather fluctuations.

People walk past houses destroyed by heavy rain and flooding in Derna, Libya, on September 13, 2023.  - Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters

Folks stroll previous homes destroyed by heavy rain and flooding in Derna, Libya, on September 13, 2023. – Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters

The massive toll of the floods additionally highlights the pressing want for governments to organize for this new actuality, and the methods conflict-ridden and poorer international locations sit on the entrance traces of local weather disasters.

Governments “have to be ready,” stated Chu. “They have to start thinking about it, because they’ve never experienced these kinds of extreme events before.”

One of many worst storms in Europe

This month, swaths of the Mediterranean area have been lashed by Storm Daniel, the results of a really robust low-pressure system that turned a “medicane” – a comparatively uncommon sort of storm with related traits to hurricanes and typhoons which might deliver harmful rainfall and flooding.

The storm, which fashioned on September 5, affected Greece first, releasing extra rain than is often seen in a complete yr. Streets changed into lethal rivers, submerging entire villages and forcing emergency staff on inflatable boats to rescue households from their flooded houses.

A man carries a girl and a dog in the flooded village of Palamas in central Greece on September 8, 2023. - Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty Images

A person carries a woman and a canine within the flooded village of Palamas in central Greece on September 8, 2023. – Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty Photos

Not less than 15 individuals died, based on the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who referred to as it “one of the most powerful storms to ever hit Europe.”

The floods, which adopted devastating wildfires within the nation, “have the fingerprints of climate change,” Greek surroundings minister Theodoros Skylakakis instructed CNN on Tuesday.

“We have had the warmest summer on record. The sea was very warm, which lead to this unique meteorological event,” he stated.

A flooded area is seen in the aftermath of Storm Daniel in Megala Kalyvia, Greece, on September 9, 2023. - Giannis Floulis/Reuters

A flooded space is seen within the aftermath of Storm Daniel in Megala Kalyvia, Greece, on September 9, 2023. – Giannis Floulis/Reuters

Neighboring Turkey felt the impression too, recording no less than seven deaths. Residents in wooded areas needed to wade by way of knee-high water, surrounded by fallen bushes – whereas components of Istanbul, the nation’s greatest metropolis, noticed lethal flash floods which killed no less than two individuals.

Extreme flooding additionally struck Bulgaria, north of Greece, with no less than 4 deaths confirmed.

Elsewhere in Europe, a separate storm – Storm Dana – noticed torrential rain throughout Spain, damaging houses and killing no less than three individuals.

Devastation in Libya

By far probably the most devastating impression was felt in Libya, as Storm Daniel moved throughout the Mediterranean, gaining power from the ocean’s unusually heat waters, earlier than dumping torrential rain on the northeast of the nation.

The catastrophic rainfall prompted the collapse of two dams, unleashing a 7-meter (23-foot) wave, based on the Worldwide Committee of the Purple Cross (ICRC). The water rushed towards the coastal metropolis of Derna, wiping out complete neighborhoods and sweeping houses into the ocean.

Greater than 11,000 persons are lifeless and no less than one other 10,000 nonetheless lacking, based on the UN, with many believed to have been swept out to sea or buried beneath rubble.

Because the nation reels, and as search and rescue operations develop determined, specialists say the dimensions of the catastrophe has been significantly magnified by a mixture of things together with crumbling infrastructure, insufficient warnings and the impacts of the accelerating local weather disaster.

“This is a tragedy in which climate and capacity has collided to cause this terrible, terrible tragedy,” stated UN support chief Martin Griffiths on Friday.

Libya has been wracked by a civil struggle and a political standoff for nearly a decade, with the nation break up between two rival administrations since 2014 – one among which isn’t acknowledged by a lot of the worldwide group, and which controls the area the place Derna is situated.

The North African nation’s fragmented state has made it unprepared for the flooding, specialists say, and should hamper supply of urgently wanted humanitarian support.

“The situation in Libya has been steadily deteriorating due to years of conflict and instability, compounded by the impacts of climate change,” stated Ciaran Donnelly, senior vp for disaster response, restoration and improvement on the Worldwide Rescue Committee.

“Globally, climate change has made these extreme weather events more frequent and intense, making it even harder for communities to cope and rebuild, especially in conflict-affected regions,” he added.

Asia’s dueling typhoons

Whereas the dimensions of devastation and lack of human life was smaller in Asia, it has additionally reckoned with lethal and unprecedented storms.

Two typhoons – Saola and Haikui – handed by way of the area inside days of one another through the first week of September, inflicting widespread harm within the self-governing island of Taiwan, town Hong Kong and different components of southern China together with Shenzhen.

Although Hurricane Saola shut down Hong Kong faculties and companies for 2 days, the actual harm got here every week later when town was lashed by a sudden storm, with flash flooding submerging metro stations and trapping ivers on roads.

The storm introduced the best hourly rainfall since information started in 1884, based on Hong Kong authorities.

In Taiwan, Hurricane Haikui left tens of hundreds of houses with out energy, and greater than 7,000 residents had been evacuated.

The twin typhoons had been an “exceptional case” that created the circumstances for an unusually extreme storm the next week, stated Chu. The typhoons introduced two slow-moving air lots, each heavy with moisture and touring in numerous instructions – which collided and dumped that water over Hong Kong

“If there were only one typhoon, it would not make this kind of severe precipitation,” she stated. She added that whereas the occasion isn’t explicitly linked to local weather change – the converging typhoons occurred “by chance” – human-caused international warming helps gas stronger storms.

“If the climate warms, if the (ocean) surface becomes warmer, the atmosphere can hold more moisture,” she stated. “If temperatures increase by one degree (Celsius), the atmosphere can hold 7% more moisture.”

She pointed to the historical past of hourly rainfall information in Hong Kong. Prior to now, there was once many years between record-breaking rainfall occasions, Chu stated, however gaps between information are narrowing quickly. As our world warms, excessive climate that used to occur as soon as in a lifetime have gotten extra frequent occurrences.

Heavy rain within the Americas

Components of the Americas have been inundated too. Brazil recorded greater than 30 deaths final week after heavy rains and floods within the state of Rio Grande do Sul – the worst pure catastrophe to hit the state in 40 years, based on CNN’s regional affiliate CNN Brasil.

Brazilian meteorologist Maria Clara Sassaki instructed CNN Brasil that inside every week, the state had acquired the typical quantity of rainfall anticipated for all the month of September.

In the meantime in america, the Burning Man competition made worldwide headlines after a heavy rainstorm pummeled the world, with tens of hundreds of attendees instructed to preserve meals and water whereas stranded within the Nevada desert.

The distant space was hit with as much as 0.8 inches – about twice the typical September rainfall – in simply 24 hours.

On the other facet of the nation, flooding in Massachusetts has broken a whole lot of houses, companies and infrastructure together with bridges, dams and railways. Rainfall in components of Massachusetts and New Hampshire has been greater than 300% above regular volumes over the previous two weeks, based on climate service information.

Drivers tried to cross a flooded street Monday in Leominster, Massachusetts, on September 11, 2023. - Rick Cinclair/Worcester Telegram & Gazette/AP

Drivers tried to cross a flooded road Monday in Leominster, Massachusetts, on September 11, 2023. – Rick Cinclair/Worcester Telegram & Gazette/AP

Specialists say record-warm ocean temperatures have fueled a hyperactive Atlantic hurricane season that reveals no indicators of slowing.

Greater than 90% of warming across the globe over the previous 50 years has taken place within the oceans, based on the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

It means extra storms are capable of kind than would in any other case be potential in a typical El Niño yr, Phil Klotzbach, a analysis scientist within the Division of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State College, instructed CNN. Even storms that weaken as a consequence of modifications in wind can keep alive and achieve power once more as soon as they discover higher circumstances.

CNN’s Taylor Ward, Sana Noor Haq, Celine Alkhaldi, Eyad Kourdi, Hamdi Alkhshali, Mostafa Salem, Kareem El Damanhoury, Nadeen Ebrahim, Laura Paddison, Chris Liakos, Christian Edwards, Louise McLoughlin, Brandon Miller, Elizabeth Wolfe and Mary Gilbert contributed reporting.

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