Hur­ri­cane Matthew down­graded to post-trop­i­cal cy­clone

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

Hur­ri­cane Matthew was down­graded to a post-trop­i­cal cy­clone Sun­day morn­ing but still had some dan­ger­ous fight left in it, dump­ing more than a foot of rain on North Carolina in a del­uge that flooded homes and busi­nesses as far as 100 miles in­land. What will go down as one of the most po­tent hur­ri­canes on record was blamed for at least 10 deaths in the U.S. and hun­dreds more in Haiti. As Matthew made its slow exit off the East Coast, dozens of peo­ple — in­clud­ing a woman and her small child — had to be res­cued from their cars as life-threat­en­ing flash floods sur­prised many in North Carolina. As night fell, au­thor­i­ties warned peo­ple to stay off the roads un­til the storm had passed, and the full ex­tent of the dam­age likely wouldn’t be clear un­til day­break. The un­of­fi­cial rain­fall to­tals were al­ready stag­ger­ing: 18 inches in Wilm­ing­ton, 14 inches in Fayet­teville and 8 inches in Raleigh. The U.S. National Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter said in its 5 a.m. ET Sun­day up­date that the cen­ter of the storm was about 30 miles south­east of Cape Hat­teras, North Carolina, and had sus­tained winds of about 75 mph (120 kpm). “This is a very, very se­ri­ous and deadly storm,” Gov. Pat McCrory said. But in many places along the South­east coast, the dam­age con­sisted mostly of flooded streets, blown-down signs and awnings, flat­tened trees and power out­ages. As the storm passed and the skies cleared, peo­ple started clean­ing up, re­open­ing their busi­nesses or hit­ting the beach. The power started com­ing back on. And all three ma­jor theme parks in Orlando, Florida, in­clud­ing Walt Disney World, were up and run­ning. Af­ter pound­ing North Carolina and drench­ing parts of Vir­ginia, it was ex­pected to veer out to sea, lose steam and loop back around to­ward the Ba­hamas and Florida, too fee­ble to cause any trou­ble. For nearly its en­tire run up the coast from Florida, Matthew hung just far enough off­shore that com­mu­ni­ties did not feel the full force of its winds. Matthew’s deadly po­ten­tial was made all too clear in Haiti, where the hur­ri­cane roared ashore on Tues­day with ter­ri­fy­ing 145 mph winds. At least 470 peo­ple were re­ported dead in one hard-hit dis­trict alone, with other dev­as­tated ar­eas still un­reach­able four days later. An es­ti­mated 2 mil­lion peo­ple in the South­east were or­dered to evac­u­ate their homes as Matthew closed in. By hug­ging the coast, the storm pretty much be­haved as fore­cast­ers pre­dicted. A shift of just 20 or 30 miles could have meant wide­spread dev­as­ta­tion. “Peo­ple got in­cred­i­bly lucky,” Colorado State Univer­sity me­te­o­rol­ogy pro­fes­sor Phil Klotzbach. “It was a su­per close call.” While Matthew’s wind speed had dropped con­sid­er­ably by the time it hit the South­east coast, the storm will still go down as one of the most po­tent hur­ri­canes on record, based on such fac­tors as wind en­ergy and longevity, and one of the most long-lived ma­jor hur­ri­canes, too. It was a ma­jor hur­ri­cane — that is, with winds of at least 110 mph — for 7.25 days. Hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple were with­out power in North Carolina. Three-quar­ters of a mil­lion peo­ple in South Carolina were left with­out elec­tric­ity, and 250,000 were in the dark in coastal Ge­or­gia. About 1 mil­lion peo­ple in Florida lost power. Four deaths were blamed on the storm in Florida, three in Ge­or­gia and three in North Carolina. The deaths in­cluded an elderly Florida cou­ple who died from car­bon monox­ide fumes while run­ning a gen­er­a­tor in their garage and two women who were killed when trees fell on a home and a camper.

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