As of Sunday night (12/12), the United States was still searching for survivors and was counting the damage caused by a series of hurricanes that hit the southeast of the country on Friday night (10/12).
Considered one of the worst weather events ever recorded in U.S. history, the hurricanes wreaked havoc in six states, according to the country’s president, Joe Biden.
The hardest hit was Kentucky, which declared a state of emergency. There, at least 80 people died, dozens in the town of Mayfield, who ran a candle factory during the events – and were reduced to a mountain of twisted iron.
As of Sunday, about 40 of the estimated 110 employees on the unit had been rescued. The factory has been working with extra shifts to handle orders for Christmas.
Under the rubble, an employee made a desperate plea for help on Facebook. In the audio, you can hear some of your co-workers screaming and crying in the background.
“We have been arrested, please get help,” Gianna Parsons-Perez, who was later rescued, said in a post aired on CNN.
BBC correspondent Nomia Iqbal, who visited Mayfield the morning after the disaster, described the “collapsed houses” as “buried beneath piles of their own ruins – among toys, shoes, twisted metal pieces and broken trees”.
“It’s like walking into a catastrophic movie set. It’s a ghost town.”
The National Weather Service received more than 30 hurricane warnings in six states on Friday. The most devastating of them all traveled 365 km across four states: Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky.
The Midwest and Southeastern United States have some of the best conditions for hurricane formation.
In this area, known as the “Tornado Lane” (actually “Tornado Lane”), cold, dry winds from southern Canada collide with warm, humid winds moving north from Canada. This junction creates atmospheric instability, which in turn creates violent columns of wind that characterize the hurricane.
Most of the hurricanes seen in this area occur in the months of May and June – another factor that caught our attention in the Friday episode is that these extreme events are less likely to occur in the winter than in December.
However, one of the factors that has pointed to the possible causes of multiple and violent hurricanes is the unusually hot temperature seen in one part of the country the previous day, which in some parts is higher than the December average.
According to The Washington Post, a strong low pressure system emerging from the Great Plains in the north intensified, with a polar jet stream sinking in the center of the country and seeing hot air on its way. The epicenter was reported below the Pacific Ocean floor, however; no tsunami alert was issued.
According to the meteorological service of the Journal of Memphis, Tennessee, US, the thermometers averaged about 15ºC (26ºF) above the average of 26ºC (79ºF).
“The atmosphere does not know it’s December – temperatures in the 70s and 80s,” Mississippi-based meteorologist Craig Ceci wrote on his Twitter page.
Climate experts, however, have stressed that further research is needed to better understand what happened on Friday night.
For example, scientists are still looking at available images and information to establish the type of hurricane. Their intensity is measured by the enhanced Fujita scale, which goes from EF-0 to EF-5 and takes into account the damage caused by the passage of air columns.
At a press conference on Saturday, I urge President Joe Biden, the Environmental Protection Agency and other government-related organizations to investigate the potential contributions of climate change to events.
“We know everything is very intense when the planet warms up, and it has some impact here, but there is still no quantitative explanation for this,” he declared.
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