Storm Ida 2021: death toll reaches 46 as flash flooding and tornadoes cause destruction in North East of US
President Joe Biden has declared an emergency in New Jersey and New York after flash flooding and tornadoes kills 46
Flash flooding and tornadoes have killed at least 46 people in the US as Storm Ida continues its path of destruction through the country.
US President Joe Biden has declared an emergency in New Jersey and New York after the states saw unprecedented levels of rainfall, leaving some residents trapped in flooded basements and cars.
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The category four storm made landfall in Louisiana on 29 August, with its powerful gusts leaving around one million locals without power.
It is expected that residents in the state could be left in the dark for weeks, as officials work to repair the damage.
Around 5,000 National Guard members have been deployed to aid seach and resue, while more than 25,000 workers from around the country are working to restore power in the state, according to CNN.
The weather system, which is the fifth-strongest to ever hit the mainland United States, hit on the same date Hurricane Katrina tore through Louisiana and Mississippi 16 years ago.
The devastating storm cut power across the city, destroyed thousands of homes and was so strong it reversed the flow of the Mississippi River.
What damage has Storm Ida caused?
Storm Ida blasted into Louisiana from the Gulf of Mexico as a category four storm on Sunday 29 August, bringing hurrican-force winds to the coast which extended 50 miles from the eye of the storm.
The state was lashed with torrential downpours and surf that submerged much of the shoreline under several feet of water.
The entire New Orleans metropolitan area was left without power after all eight transmission lines failed to deliver electricity and flash flooding was reported by the National Hurricane Center across southeastern Louisiana.
One transmission tower collapsed into the Mississippi River after being blasted by the storm, according to the Jefferson Parish Emergency Management Department, and President Biden has warned it could take weeks for some places to get power back.
Residents of the Gulf Coast were evacuated from their homes and businesses were also shut down.
President Biden declared a major disaster in Louisiana, ordering federal assistance to boost recovery efforts in more than two-dozen storm-stricken parishes.
He warned that the storm is "life-threatening" and the devastation is "likely to be immense", with the government "planning for the worst".
The President already approved emergency declarations for both Louisiana and Mississippi ahead of Ida’s arrival.
An emergency has now also been declared in New Jersey and New York, meaning the states can start to receive federal funding to support local disaster relief efforts.
Both states were faced with flash flooding from the high volume of rainfall and tornadoes, leaving at least 46 people dead.
Six states have now suffered loss of life due to the store, with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy stating at least 23 people had died in his state, while 14 deaths have been confirmed in New York City, 11 of which drowned while trapped in their flooded basements.
Five people have died in Pennsylvania, a state trooper in Connecticut was swept away as he responded to a call, and deaths have also been reported in Maryland and Virginia.
How does the storm compare to Hurricane Katrina?
Storm Ida made landfall as a category four hurricane, with its top winds growing from 45mph to 150mph in just five hours.
The storm was later downgraded to category three, with wind speeds between 111mph and 125mph, as it moved over land, although authorities warned its threat is not diminished.
Hurricane Katrina followed a similar trajectory when it struck 16 years ago.
Around 12 hours after arriving in Louisiana, at around 4am UK time, the storm was downgraded again to category two, reaching top winds of 100mph.
This ranking was lowered further at around 5am UK time to category one, meaning there were sustained winds of up to 95mph.
Ida is tied as the fifth-strongest hurricane to ever made landfall in the US based on wind speed, prompting fears it could be as devastating as the fearsome Hurricane Katrina, which wreaked havoc in New Orleans on 29 August 2005.
The catastrophic storm caused mass flooding across the city, destroyed thousands of homes and claimed more than 1,800 lives.
Hundreds of miles of new levees were built around New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards saying the state’s $14 billion levy system should hold out against Ida.
Could the storm hit the UK?
The National Hurricane Center has said that Ida, now classed as a tropical storm, is accelarating north eastward from near eastern Long Island to Cape Cod.
In an updated issued on Twitter on 2 September, the Center said the storm will continue to bring widespread heavy rainfall and wind from the west to the east as it heads across eastern New England.
The Met Office has said that the storm is not likely to hit the UK in its current form, but that it could still have a knock on effect on UK weather.
A spokesperson said: “According to our current models, Hurricane Ida is unlikely to travel across the Atlantic intact and affect the UK directly.
“However, our models are showing that it could indirectly influence the weather in the UK next weekend, with a low pressure system building out to the west, which could bring some sustained rain on Saturday or Sunday.
“Obviously we’re still a little far out to know the precise timings of this and there are some differences in our models as to how this will develop.”
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