Powerful ocean storms that take place mainly in the western Atlantic Ocean are called hurricanes. People in Vietnam and other Pacific countries call similar storms in the western Pacific Ocean typhoons. The weather events bring high winds, large waves and heavy rain. They also cause widespread destruction and displace thousands.
Early Tuesday, Hurricane Ian landed in Cuba’s western city of Pinar del Rio where officials had set up shelters for 50,000 people.
In Havana’s El Fanguito neighborhood near the Almendares River, health worker Abel Rodrigues and others gathered their belongings. He told the Associated Press, “I hope we escape this one because it would be the end of us. We already have so little.”
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Ian’s wind speed reached 205 kilometers per hour and the storm surge was as high as 4.3 meters along Cuba’s coasts.
The storm is expected to strengthen even more over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The wind speed could reach 225 kilometers per hour when the hurricane makes landfall in the U.S. state of Florida late on Tuesday.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said an estimated 2.5 million people were under evacuation orders. “When you have five to 10 feet of storm surge, that is not something you want to be a part of,” DeSantis said Tuesday. “And Mother Nature is a very fearsome adversary.”
At the Kennedy Space Center, NASA moved its moon rocket from the launch area back into a large building for protection from the storm. And the airports in Tampa and St. Petersburg announced they would be closed Tuesday afternoon.
In the Southeast Asian country of Vietnam, officials closed airports, set a curfew, and evacuated over 800,000 people near the coastlines on Tuesday. The order came as Typhoon Noru was crossing the South China Sea to hit Vietnam after leaving at least eight dead in the Philippines.
Officials said Noru is expected to make landfall in Vietnam on Wednesday with a wind speed of 180 kilometers per hour. An official from the weather agency said, "The storm is so strong that we've started feeling the impact even when it has not made landfall yet.”
The typhoon is expected to hit the central areas of Quang Ngai, where a major oil refinery is located, and Quang Nam, home to the World Heritage city of Hoi An.
About 270,000 military service members were placed on standby for emergencies. And Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh told officials: "We don't have much time left. The storm is intensifying so our responses must be stronger and faster.”
Noru was the strongest storm to hit the Philippines this year where it killed at least eight people when it made landfall on Sunday night. Among the dead were five government workers who drowned while trying to rescue villagers.
The typhoon flooded farmland and communities and damaged an estimated $21 million of crops, mainly rice. Nearly 80,000 people were moved to emergency shelters across the main Luzon Island, Philippine officials said. And local television broadcasts showed police cutting up fallen trees blocking roads and people removing wreckage with their hands.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. asked “Is this climate change?” in a meeting with emergency officials. “We have kept watch on these storms for a long time but it wasn’t like this before... This is something I have to deal with,” he added.
I’m Jill Robbins.
Hai Do adapted this report for VOA Learning English from Associated Press and Reuters sources.
Words in This Story
surge – n. an abnormal rise in the level of the sea along a coast caused by the onshore winds of a severe cyclone
evacuation – n. the removal of people from a dangerous place for their safety
adversary - n. someone you are competing with, or arguing or fighting against.
landfall – n. the act of first seeing or reaching land from the sea
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