tv Alex Wagner Tonight MSNBC September 28, 2022 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT
to pass the inflation reduction act, which a large portion of that will go to addressing a climate change. we have to come together, as i said, at the local and state level. we've got to join the federal partners, and deal with this issue, particularly in the state of florida. congresswoman val demings, whose district includes parts of our, which is about to get the worst part of the storm, particular for the rainstorm perspective. thank you so much, stay safe. >> thank, you take care. >> that is all in tonight, hurricane in continues right now with alex wagner. good evening, alex. >> good evening, chris, as spectacularly destructive as the images have been, it's so abundantly clear that we have no conception of the true toll of this natural disaster, by a long shot. >> and particularly in that area right down there by fort myers beach, and the islands
off of the gulf coast there. we're not going to get a sense of it until tomorrow. but yes, it looks pretty path down in. >> and we'll be talking about this later in the hour. thanks, chris. and thank you for joining us. hurricane ian continues to create a swath of -- in made landfall just after 3:00 this afternoon in southwestern florida, near k o'connor, a island off of the coast of fort myers. ian came ashore as a category four hurricane with 150 mile per hour winds. just a few miles per hour shy of a category five. only for hurricane stronger than that have made landfall in the united states ever. but it is not just the strength of the storm, it is the size. this is the view of hurricane in from the international space station this afternoon. just showing how massive the storm is. the national river -- describes in as battering the florida peninsula with tied -- and winds, and flooding. ian has just now weakened to a
category two storm with maximum sustained winds of 105 miles per hour, and is making its way very slowly across northeast florida. the hurricane isn't expected to reach the atlantic ocean until late tomorrow. and even then, it will continue north in a week and form. states of emergency have been declared as far north as virginia, into dissipation of what the storm may bring in the coming days. in florida right now, nearly 1.9 million households are without power, as wind and water, knocked down trees, and power lines. curfews will be in effect along the west coast. the greatest danger is the storm surge, which has already broken records in naples and fort myers. the national weather service warned that the storm could reach as high as 18 feet in some areas. multiple florida counties reported that they had significant number of calls from people trapped in their homes by water. authorities say they are prioritizing situations that are immediately life-threatening, but rescues in some places may not be possible until conditions
improve. and emergency officials are warning people not to use their own boats or cars to help with rescues, because many hurricane deaths happened when people venture into deep water that has been electrified by downed power lines. this evening, president biden called the mayors of fort myers, cape coral, and sarasota, and the chair of the charlotte county to offer his support for the -- the white house says they were only able to reach the fort myers mayor. overall, florida officials are warning that ian will likely be one of the most catastrophic hurricanes to ever hit the state. joining us now is bill karen's, bill, we're hearing that it has been downgraded to a category two hurricane. does that mean that we have seen the worst of this storm? >> damage wise, if i have to put a percentage on, it i would say maybe the 90% of the damage has been done. there is still about ten to 15%, to be done. that will mostly be in the way of wind damage as we go throughout the next couple of
days. go to the carolinas, as well. when you go through stages of the storms, there are different threats and different portions. during landfall, we are very concerned with that storm surge. the forecast next, worst-case an area was 12 to 18 feet. we know that we have had a water level somewhere around 10 to 12 feet, in the fort myers area, and naples was officially about six feet or so. we had a catastrophic storm surge in those areas, that's where we heard reports of people on roofs, addicts, calling for attic -- those water levels are starting to recede, so hopefully those people that were very scared, obviously, in the attics or the roofs, wherever they had to seek shelter, with how high the water levels were going to go. that water is receding now, and so hopefully those people can come back down and they don't need to be rescued anymore before has the winds are still too high for yet rescue crews to go to get them. that's that situation, where was hit the hardest. fort myers, vinita beach, down towards areas of naples, just
north of the naples area. now we get to the second part of the storm. we get to being concerned about the high winds, still a category two. and then the rainfall, which will be with us throughout the next two days. we still have what we call an extreme wind warning, probably a weather time we have not heard that often. it only happens when we have land falling hurricanes, and usually they have to be powerful hurricanes at that. when we drop this down to a category one, probably in the next hour or two, this will be dropped. there is still probably some 90 to 100 mile per hour wind gusts here from arcadia up to see break. that is also the areas that are seeing extreme flooding right now. we have flood watches that go from charleston, to jacksonville, much of the northern half of the peninsula, from fort myers, fort pierce, through to tampa and orlando under a flood watch. but this area here is under a flash flood emergency. we have already had reports of 20 inches of rain in this region, and they're telling people to get to higher ground if you are near any raw water areas, because the pawns, lakes,
streams, they're all rising very quickly. that's the same area that has 100 mile per hour winds. imagine what their phones look like right now. they're going up and beeping, saying you're in an extreme wind warning. and during a flash flood emergency? that is pretty scary stuff, especially in the dark when you are trying to figure this out. these people are in the bathroom, you're trying to figure out what to do with your family in this situation. and so our thoughts are with them, i don't think that the storm is just completely over with. and then from here, alex, we have problems going up the coast, it is not going to be like it was today with storm surge, but we are going to show you some pictures tomorrow night and into friday morning around jacksonville, florida, st. augustine, heading over to southern georgia. we're going to get a 3 to 5 foot storm surge. today, that storm surge in naples, there was about six feet. and so don't think that we can't still get some damage up the coast from a 3 to 5 foot storm surge. that's worst-case scenario. if it materializes. that's something that's on the table. we just had over to the 70, 56
in orlando. my rule of thumb is that once you get gusts from 15 to 16,, that's enough to get downed trees, power outages. we're seeing that happened in central florida. as far as overnight, we're going to continue with those gusty right winds, and i'll follow up with that forecast path that is going to take you overnight towards orlando, over to the space coast. and then off the coast with another possible landfall on friday. somewhere between savannah and charleston, maybe even as a hurricane once again. a cruel storm, and as we all rapper evenings up, think about those people that are still in the houses, waiting for rescue with a storm struck. this first responders, they're probably not going to be able to get out there until the middle of the night and daybreak to get to a lot of these people that are in desperate need for help. >> yes, it's going to be a very, long, dark, night. we are thinking about them. msnbc meteorologist bill karen, thank you, bill. let us know about any changes we should know about.
joining us now is msnbc's ali bell she. ali, you have been giving us some gripping coverage today. i know the naples was hit with a storm, surge and quite a bit of flooding. what can you tell us about the conditions where you are? >> it's kind of remarkable, alex, before noon i was standing here, and there was nothing. this is a parking lot of the hotel we were actually staying at. this is facing east, that's not the water. the water is behind me. every time i've done a hurricane, we're on the water where we've got the water behind us. the story was here, because we were watching the storm surge come in. we were watching the beach at naples be a limited, and push in here. there were cars lined up on both sides of this parking lot, and they are all gone. they have all been pushed away, floated away, or get overturned. we have watched all of that happened basically by three or 3:20 is when low tide started. within an hour of, that it was all gone. bill was talking about a six
foot storm surge. here we saw every last foot of it. we actually saw at those buildings across their, where they have a second view of the second story. and the car port underneath. that's at least 12 feet there, and we saw those decks being over top. the idea that you think about a six or five foot storm surge as being five or six feet of water, it depends on where you are. over here on the beach, it was more than ten feet of water. great destruction all over here, into downtown naples. it's mostly behind us, and we probably are approaching 2 million people in the state without power, and as bill says, as it continues to go through, we are going to see water levels rise, and if you have gusts at 50 or 60 miles per hour, you will see power come down. what we have here is the power outage, it's completely dark behind us. the lies you are seeing are our lights that are generator powered. the city is saying, please don't go out. the water is not all receded. you can still get stuck in your car. i watched cars float away today, and so that is another danger.
the worst of it is behind us in naples, but we don't know what the worst of it looks like. until the city can go out, clear the cars, and evaluate the damage and figure out what they are getting in repair, we will not know how bad it is. northeast of, be north of me, it's even worse than that. and so we have watched the strangest areas i've ever seen in our hurricane, in all the ones that i've covered. we watch this go from nothing to completely flooded, which is the actual gulf of mexico. it's just running through this parking lot and into the streets of naples, back into just sandy. this is the sand from naples beach. this is a tarmac surface, and it gets back to normal, but for a whole lot of damage and debris. we don't have a good damage estimate around here, we don't have that sense. collier county, which is the county where, in it's under mandatory evacuations, it's under curfew. they have sent out notices to say, please don't call us if you don't need, us we are taking calls from lee county, which is fort myers, which is much more badly hit. officials don't have a sense of
who stayed behind, and who is trapped. we are getting a lot of calls. in fact, my last update said there are 30 rescues in this county, in the naples area of people trapped in their attics or on higher floors. we don't have a full situation report on that. we should by morning. >> and look, by that end, the sheriff's department said they're receiving a significant number of people trapped by water, but at the same time we're seeing first responders in videos that are struggling to deal with the flooding. can you tell us with the emergency response looks like on the ground where you are at this time, as some of that water is receded? >> what we know is that there are teams out there. they are starting to return power. the winds, i'm in a protected area right, now but right over here, you will get some sense of the latter winds, and the fact that it is still too windy to take a bucket chop up -- and there is probably other
power work that they are doing. they're trying to clear the roads, because this situation has happened all over the city, where cars have been piling up, flooded, and getting next to those roads, access points to hospitals, and things like that. that's what they're doing tonight. they are saying stay off the roads please, they will get a better sense to more of what is going on. we're getting some reports from collier county, from the county, that they are having incidents of looting. we don't know much about that, we just know that lead county is inundated with a whole lot of problems that kollie county doesn't have. everyone's busy tonight trying to get a handle on what the situation is. flooding continues to be a problem, even here in naples where the storm is on its last legs. >> the system is operating at full throttle, and that's an nbc -- thank you so much for the great reporting, please stay safe. ian made landfall this afternoon as a catastrophic category four storm just shy of category five.
it slammed into a barrier island just off the coast of fort myers, south of there, on the gulf coast is the town of estero in lee county, that is where we find csn bc correspondent perry resin. we are hearing that fort myers mentioned in the reports about damage. what can you tell us? >> right now in lee county, which is where fort myers is. we moved here because the cell phone service is abysmal. in lee county, there are 92% of people without power, what we have here behind us is some place that has power, and this is just lined with palm trees. you can see all the way down the road here, all of these palm branches that have been taken down. these are massive branches, in some places they have to be ten plus feet? these things have been lining the streets here. we have woken up in fort myers this morning, we realizing that the storm is starting to curve
north east. we went to one of the shelters that -- there are 14 different shelters, people have been going to their shelters, everyone else has been going north or east. at the shelter where we were, minor league hockey facility, a kind -- somewhere sleeping on the periphery of the arena and, some in the chairs. some of them are destiny because people haven't used them in quite some time, but there is this interesting just a bit -- toy story to -- put every hour, your phone was buzzing with alerts, do not go out, wind warning, if you do go outside, we're not coming for you. we have people watching woody while people are going berserk. it sounds ridiculous to say, but when the hurricane was going over us, it's as if the arena was buzzing. we could feel the pressure dropping and rising. there is this very odd feeling,
and you could feel it in your face with the storm going over us. the wind, and the rain was relentless for hours. there is sometimes where the water was just coming down through the ceiling, said there were pools where this hockey team plays. the big question going forward -- holden, we'll talk to you in one second. stay safe. >> we are starting to see some people headed like we are, that's the one thing that police are saying is, look, if you do go out, we're not coming after you. there is one point during the storm at the arena where they did not want anybody leaving. the wind was so strong, their fear was that if the doors opened, the doors would be taken away, and what we were told from the county, because we asked about this. they said the structural integrity of the arena could be jeopardized by somebody trying to walk out. we actually wanted to stay where we were. they said we were in lockdown, which is very interesting for us to hear. we were standing to some sheriffs deputies when they said we were in lockdown, and
they started turning to each other like, can we actually do this? is this something that we can do? diminished to keep everybody in there. for us to leave the arena and come here and do this report, there is a woman at the door wearing -- she was with the county wearing a fluorescent penny, and said, you do realize that there are projectiles out there that are going in the wind? there is flooding all over the place. if you go out there and you are hurt, we are not coming after you, are you okay with that? and you have to go, yes, i'm fine. people started to go out. what we have been seeing from here, in fort myers, just on the periphery of that. the roads are okay, but it's interesting, if you make a left towards the water, there's nothing. lights are out, you have traffic lights hanging down. the big question tomorrow is, one, how much can we see the damage considering cell service is abysmal? and what is happening with these bridges. as i mentioned, the previous reporter alison has been mentioning it to, when people are out there, because we are getting reports of people stuck
on balconies and things such as that. how much can police actually do? the warning, alex, is, we can't come after you to get you until the morning. >> i can only imagine, perry, the feeling inside of that shelter as people are trying to keep their kids come, also dealing with a storm of political proportions. and now the concerned about getting through the night, and making it to tomorrow to find out whether houses, and the life that they once knew is still intact. can you get a sense of how people are emotionally grappling with this? >> it was an interesting progression throughout the day, where people are coming to terms with how bad this was. the wind was picking up, the rain was picking up. and once things started to die down, once people got word that you could leave, and you have to say yes, i understand the dangers. nobody's coming after me. there's a car coming this way. people wanted to go out and see their property. it is a man we were speaking with you had a mobile home, he left them about how to come here, his parents in their 80s
wanted to stay here to see how they were doing every hour. they are anxious to go and see how this house was going to look like. he was kind of joking like, at least i have the land, the mobile home can go away. they are starting to speed up the process, in peoples minds, looking at what is left in my house, how bad is it? we are not going to understand the significance, the damage of all this until two days from now, once we can get a better vantage point down there. >> perry, cnn correspondent in fort myers, florida, perry, stay safe out there. thank you for the reporting. much more ahead of our special coverage of hurricane ian. up next, we are going live to orlando, and we will talk about the collier county administrator, live. stay with us. with us ♪limu emu & doug♪ it's nice to unwind after a long week of telling people how liberty mutual customizes your car insurance
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coverage of hurricane ian. now a category two storm, it's destructive winds and drenching rain, moving slowly across florida tonight, after making landfall this afternoon as a powerful category four storm. joining us now from orlando, which is feeling the effects of intense rain and wind is nbc news correspondent jack jesse curse. what is it like in orlando right now? >> alex, we're experiencing at
this moment a little bit of a lull. you can see through the lights how heavy the wind is pushing the rain, and in a distance, you might be able to see this fountain out there that we're seeing from our photographer tony. you might be able to see how the wind is blowing. that as well as these trees out here. i just saw another flash of lightning. this is mild compared to what we saw in the last 20 minutes or so, and this is also hours before we expect to see the worst of what is left of in here. this has been going on for hours now, and that gives you an idea of how powerful this storm is. hours before, it was still 100 miles away at this point, it might be closer than that. earlier, when it was more than 100 miles away, we were still seeing these powerful wind gusts, enough to make china few breeze wobble, and the rain is continuing to fall. we're starting to see the water pool up in this slipped down driveway that we're in. the water rising above some of the wheels here. i do want to stress that this
is just right where we are in a very low area. we have plenty of escape routes over here right now, and so we are not flirting with danger in a way that some people might think. i want to make clear that if we think we are seeing flash flooding coming our way, we will not be wasting time in getting out of the way of that. that is something that is a concern in orlando. when you go overnight and morning hours, we're looking at the worst of what's left of being here in orlando, we can see wind gusts up to 90 miles an hour. the bigger concern is the potential for more than two feet of rain to hit certain parts of this area, which could lead to flash flooding. at this point, officials don't want anybody on the roadways. after 2 pm eastern time, people were being told in orlando to be off of the roads. at this point, people should be in place, where they are going to ride out the storm. we have not yet heard of any major power outages, cell service is holding strong as best we can tell in the area. we know that there are several shelters here in orange county, florida, one shelter at least
has reached capacity, but officials are hoping that more shelters in the late afternoon, early evening hours. they were still encouraging people to try and seek shelter away from their home if they felt that there is a threat. i can tell you that when it was light out, driving conditions were deteriorating, and at this point, in the dark with the wind and rain seeking to pick up and move forward to that crescendo. this is certainly not a time where you would want to be taking a chance on the roadways. i cannot stress this enough, what you are seeing out here right now, this is hours before the worst of what we expect to see from even here today in orlando. there are already other parts of florida that are beyond the direct path of the storm, that have had catastrophic damage. we have seen some dozen possible tornadoes, already having touched down. there have been some small airplanes tossed around. this is certainly a force of nature to be reckoning with, and it continues to make its way across florida. the fact that it is going to be from one coast to another,
making its way further up the east coast beyond the state, it's significant in and of itself. again, how far away we have been, we have still seen damage throughout the evening. that speaks to the severity and power of ian, and, again we are expecting conditions to get far worse here in the overnight hours. alex. >> amazing news. correspondent, in orlando, we trust you to keep covering the story, and keep stay safe. thank you for the reporting. i want to show you this video from the naples, florida, fire rescue department. these are members of that department performing a water rescue just a few hours ago in naples. which is all the more impressive, because their own fire station where they are bringing this person that they rescued is itself flooded with several feet of water. there are fire trucks are inundated and unusable. officials in collier county, where naples is, say that they foresee a -- from people trapped in flooded homes. they are prioritizing people reporting life-threatening medical emergencies, because every attempted rescue is so
dangerous at this. moment i want to bring in rick lowe castro, the commissioner of collier county. he's joining us by phone from marco island, which is south of naples. we know that it has been in a very dangerous place with regards to the storm. mr. lowe castro, we know that there is a mandatory curfew going into effect starting at 10 pm tonight. how is the city enforcing that curfew? >> we have really great first responders. i had one of your other reporters talk about how we have been at le county, and the reason that we have been able to do that is that although there are a few people that needed rescue, i think we did a great job getting people out of here, and i think that freed up a lot of our first responders, and our police officers. as far as enforcing the -- i'm actually trapped on the island, but i -- my district is about half of naples, marco island, north of the island, a lot of those low
lying, picturesque, beautiful areas that are a piece of paradise, except when times of hurricanes. that's the trade-off we're living here. from everything that has been recorded to me, people notice it. so many of the streets are flooded, and we have heard from your reported that it's not like people are out and about. those that think it is sort of fun to be out in the water, those are the folks that were really getting at. and then you know about the heroic water rescues, you're good to have that when you have emergencies like this. that has been the exception of the rule. we have a lot of people out of town. i'm a retired air force colonel, and have been a space commander, and have been in a lot of these types of storms before. that's why i stayed back here, i was going to get in my car and drove to a hotel in orlando, and then pick up the pieces. i was working close to our first responders. the first thing i'll tell you,
people losing roofs, and there are a lot of horrific vince happening in fort myers, orlando, but when the storm hits you north of us, people that we were battling for the weather report, whoever was slightly south of where the storm actually hit, where the folks were the -- and i can tell you, we got every inch of it here. i live on marco island, and my house was about an inch away from being totaled. and so we had water, and immediately came over the wall over the house, same with a lot of my constituents. -- you lose a pool, and then you go back in the house, you have dinners and have that thing replaced. but water, much like fire, tornadoes, that is horrific damage. and like the reporter was saying, there are a lot of people that have no idea what kind of damage they're about to come back to. i've seen some of it, and a lot of it is here in marco island.
a big jump of the disparate -- it's really -- this has really been a onetime, never happened before type of event here. i also -- you know, i also survived through irma, and it was such a big difference. hermit was all about wind, this was all about water. and so i know a lot of people head great education, and maybe learned it the hard way about storm surge. there was a lot of high numbers reported four irma, 12 foot storm surge, and it turned out to be three or four feet. there were a lot of folks that said, oh, does whether reporters, they always overexaggerate to scare us. the reality was, irma took a couple of laps and then it wiggled and changed. it protected us from storm surge. it wasn't as catastrophic. this storm took wiggles and it made it worse. it came at us in a totally
different angle. i think that every foot that was predicted of storm surge, i can tell you i saw every inch of it. we have got a really catastrophic situation here, marco, maples, i -- as you move up the west coast of florida north. this storm is still causing structural damage and whatnot, but you have some severe water damage. especially in southwest florida right now. a big part of the district, now it's time to do assessments in cleanup. >> commissioner, i'm sure your constituents really appreciate your decision to use your heirs force experience to help your community and oversee in effect what will be staggering amounts of damage over the next couple of days and weeks. there is a long recovery ahead. collier county commissioner, thank you so much for making time for us.
up next, what happens next in hard-hit communities? just moments away, we will talk to former fema administrator craig few get. >> i am sad to tell you that we don't know the full extent of the damage, but we are beginning to get a sense that our community has been, in some respects, decimated. ects, decimated. nothing is more important than family. a family you're born into, a family you choose or a family you make. i'm padma lakshmi. i came to this country when i was four years old
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coverage of hurricane ian, which made landfall this afternoon as one of the strongest storms ever to hit the united states. it has now weakened to a category two hurricane still packs quite a punch. nearly 2 million customers are without power, and the storm danger is far from over. much of central florida is still bracing for the worst of it, as ian bears down on orlando, and eventually florida's east coast. wind, flooding, and storm surge are lethal threats in those places, and officials are warning that flooding remains a danger, even in the hard-hit areas that ian has already passed through. joining us now is craig few guide, who is no stranger to -- the administrator of fema, under president obama, and as the director of the florida
emergency management division. thank you for making time. you have overseen the federal response to countless storms during your career, so i would love to start with, what are you watching for right now in terms of the response from the federal government. >> the federal government has been responding, they have been at the state of florida since the beginning of the week. they have been lockstep with governor desantis's team, working. they've been planning with the state on a phased approach. they can't do everything all at once. you have to prioritize. the first thing a search and rescue teams. those that are moving in, you have already seen the local governments began their response. these other teams are going in. you have the florida board of transportation, the national guard, basically they are going to have to cut their way in, or get into these areas depending on how much debris is on the road. just get in, get out there and do more help. that is going to be the focus for the first few days.
search and rescue, get into the injured, getting to the trapped. looking at where they need critical supplies to get ahead. and then you start getting into the phase of this. if you can get power turned on for a lot of states that are losing it, you're going to find that a lot of the first response can now be better handled by local officials in the private sector. that will allow fema to stay focused on the areas with the heaviest devastation. we kind of know all the way down to the far south, you heard from the commissioner there. north and into sarasota county. very high population, very high storm surge is occurring there. they've been hit pretty hard. they're getting around the community, but fema's role is not to get ahead of the state. it's disappoint the state, be there, have the resources ready to go. and start thinking about next steps. if this moves through response, we will start getting to the issue of, what assistance will we need to four people they did
not have insurance? what kind of rebuilding assurance are we going to need to help communities pay the bills, pay for that response, the cleanup. that will be -- they'll be working on that over the next couple of days. but everybody has to stay focused on right now, and don't detract from certain rescue parties. we still have flooding going. you heard from your people in orlando. in this part of the world, where a pretty flat state. our flash flooding can turn into ponding, where communities that were high and dry earlier in the evening, they may be a lake with all of that route water rushing in. those rescues will have to take place as well. >> let's talk more about the water, because you have written -- and he wrote earlier today, what are not wind claimed the most lives of past hurricanes. how do authorities deal with a storm surge like this one, which seems almost unprecedented in this year volume of water that this storm brought in. what does that mean in terms of search and rescue? >> it means that, as you heard
from the folks in naples where they have had good evacuation compliance, people did move out. that reduces the workload. but we know that there will be people that stay behind. there will be some that called 9-1-1, we will know to go there. they're going to search every building. you can't take the risk that there is somebody left behind. we are going to focus on people, but those that are also going to be out there. and will rescue them. that's going to be the priority. all of these teams are moving in, just go down to the hard-hit areas. they've been mapping this out, they knew this during a storm center, they knew where it was be the worst. this is everything from florida fish and wildlife commission with their boats and helicopters to the national guard with their helicopters and how wheeled vehicles. search of rescue teams that have boats that go in. they have been working the potential areas as the local officials have a better sense of the hard hit areas. this is all moving, it won't go
away for the next couple of days. that's what's happening. the thing that is going to keep the state and local governments on their toes is, how much more what we see from the flooding as we move inland? they have teams in the different parts of the state can move there quickly. this is just a really complex response of the areas that have already been impacted, areas about to be impacted, and getting those teams in place to move in as soon as it is safe to start this search and rescue operations. >> massive coordinated response in the coming days, starting now. former fema administrator and director of the florida management division, thank you for your time and expertise today. >> thanks for having me. >> up next, why hurricanes are getting bigger, and intensifying more quickly. yes, climate change. it may be largely to blame. stay with us. stay with us
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mainland, following near identical spots near port charlotte. but comparisons between charlie and ian. here is hurricane ian as seen from space, the whole storm is 500 miles wide. the one we talk about hurricane, the part we are typically most concerned about is the section of the storm with hurricane-force winds. the yellow and red here, that stretches from tampa to naples, those winds are more than 100 miles wide. the eye of the storm alone is more than 30 miles wide. just gigantic. for comparison, here is how wide the hurricane-force winds were from hurricane charlie. ten miles wide. that whole hurricane could fit in the eye of today storm. so yes, the storms are tied in wind strength, but ian is going to hit way more of florida and will likely do so much harder. hurricane charlie had a maximum storm surge of 6 to 7 feet. hurricane ian's forecast for a maximum of 12 to 18 feet.
that matters a ton because storm surge is likely to be the most deadly aspect of today's storm. hurricane ian is also moving much slower than hurricane charlie, which means more time for rain to fall and with that, more flooding. the reason i bring this up is not just to say that this hurricane is worse than its most comparable predecessor, but to talk about how hurricanes overall seem to be getting more extreme. there is only been nine category three or higher storms that have made landfall on florida's west coast since 1950. six of those have been since the year 2000. it is impossible to tie any single weather event to climate change, but it is clearly the case that climate change is making storms like this one stronger. joining us now is catherine hey how, chief scientist, professor at texas tech university and author of this book, he's for hope and healing in a divided world. catherine, thank you so much for being with us tonight. i would like to get right into
it. which is, a lot of people are looking at what has been happening or not happening in florida. prior to this hurricane, we have actually had a fairly normal season in the u.s. this year. they've only been a few main storms. for people who are climate skeptics, how do you explain the role of climate change in a year like this? >> the way i explain it is like this, we know that hurricanes are a natural phenomenon. climate change is exacerbating them, making them worse, like putting them on steroids. we aren't seeing a change in the overall numbers of hurricanes, but when those hurricanes happen they are intensified faster. they're getting stronger, they are dumping a lot more rain on us and they are even moving more slowly. climate change is truly loading the weather dies against us, putting us all at risk. >> can you explain why the intensification happened so rapidly? ian was category three last night, then just over the course of a few hours this morning became a category four and almost a category five. how do you attribute that to
climate change? >> that is something that we are seeing with warmer oceans. climate change is being caused by bit digging up and burning coal and gas and oil, which produces heat trapping gases that are building up in the atmosphere around the planet. over 90% of the extra heat that is being trapped by that blanket is going into the ocean where it is powering stronger storms and allowing those storms to ratchet up for more quickly than the tropical storms before. >> the other piece of this that i think is really interesting is that scientific data shows that the hurricanes are increasingly moving slower than they were in the last century. how does that detail with climate change, is that an effective climate change? it certainly has affects once these large storm systems just hang out overland. >> the data is showing that on
average, storms are moving a bit more slowly. even more important that we haven't touched on, the fact that warmer air holds more water vapor. when a storm comes along, as they always do, there is more water vapor for that storm to dump on us than it was 50 or hundred years ago. although you mentioned that any given hurricane is not the result of climate change, we are able to put numbers on just how much worse climate change made a specific hurricane. with hurricane harvey, it is estimated that nearly 40% of the rain that fell during harvey, and in some places it was over 50 inches of rain, could not have occurred if that same hurricane had happened 100 years ago as it easily could have. it was estimated even worse that more areas flooded and more economic damage has occurred because you might be used to 20 inches or 30 inches and be prepared for that, but once you get into the 40 and 50-inch range, that's when the really devastating damages
occur. that's where places get flooded that we're not expecting it. we can put very specific numbers on how much worse climate change makes a heat wave, a wildfire, and a hurricane. >> putting numbers on it matters because we can also assign economic damage to climate change, that is the beginning of a policy shift. catherine, chief scientist for the nature conservatory, thank you for your time and wisdom tonight. >> thank you for having me. >> we have much more ahead in our special coverage of hurricane ian, we will be right back. hurricane ian, we will be righ back back pliers, and a phone open to libertymutual.com they customize your car insurance, so you only pay for what you need... and a blowtorch. only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪
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hurricane, knocking out the power grid. officials initially cut power to nearly a maroon people as a precaution, but cuba's antiquated electrical grid which had been struggling ahead of the storm buckled. prompting officials to then cut off power to the entire population of 11 million. we are still waiting to see the full devastation that hurricane ian has left behind in florida, but if cuba where at least two people are dead, it does not look good. again, the storm hit cuba as a category three storm. according to the national hurricane center, the storm caused significant wind and storm surge impacts in cuba, with winds of 225 miles per hour. cuba's tobacco farms were hit particularly harm -- sometimes hurricanes past through here, but not of this magnitude. adding, it destroyed our houses, our jogging has, our farms, for trees, everything. the owner of the cigar factory who posted these photos to facebook told nbc news that the
scenes were coat apocalyptic and a real disaster. the damage in florida tonight already looks bad, but we may not be able to tell that just how bad until morning. that does it for us tonight, we will see you again tomorrow, our special coverage of hurricane ian continues now on the last word with lawrence o'donnell, good evening. lawrence >> we are going to continue the live coverage as you said, thank you very much, alex. we are continuing our live coverage of the situation in florida as alex said. hurricane ian has now been downgraded to a category two storm. the hurricane made landfall just after 3 pm today in southwest florida as a powerful category four storm, one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the united states. hurricane ian is causing record levels surges, potentially as high as 12 feet in fort myers and naples, florida. more than 1.9 million people are without power tonight,