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Disaster declared in Houston as Texas becomes latest victim of series of unusual floods that inundated Kenya, Brazil and Dubai

Top line

Dozens of people have died from heavy rains and subsequent flooding in countries around the world in the past two weeks, as local officials warn of increasingly shocking weather events and scientists link deadly deluges in Dubai, Brazil, Kenya and other places with man-made climate. impacts worsened by the current El Niño phenomenon.

Key facts

More than two dozen people died this week from heavy rains and flooding in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, which also displaced about 10,000 people, almost half of whom are living in shelters after their homes were destroyed or damaged.

Eduardo LeitaThe governor of the state home to more than 10 million people said Thursday that the death toll is expected to rise and called the flooding “the biggest climate disaster our state has ever faced.”

Kenya’s president on Friday postponed the planned reopening of local schools until further notice, the Associated Press reported, as the country grapples with ongoing floods that have inundated the area since March, killing more than 200 people and displacing another 190,000. .

At least 48 people died on Monday when water rushed through a river tunnel under a railway line in Kenya, causing a flash flood, and forecasters have warned that a cyclone is likely to hit Kenya and Tanzania on Friday, which could bring more rain to nations that have a combined estimated death toll of more than 400.

In Dubai, residents are still dealing with unprecedented rainfall (more rain fell in 12 hours than normally falls in the months of April and May combined) that caused damaging flooding in several parts of the United Arab Emirates and Oman two weeks ago : flights Departures from Dubai were delayed and canceled on Thursday as more rain fell.

At least four people died in floods in the United Arab Emirates and 19 others died in Oman, including 10 children who died when their school bus was swept away, CNN reported.

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for Harris County in the Houston area of ​​Texas on Thursday after heavy rain caused flooding and Lake Conroe surpassed record water levels last seen during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. ; A local judge declared a state of emergency for the county as more extraordinary rain storms are expected Friday night.

Key background

The floods, while not caused by a single weather event, are related because they occurred during an El Niño year, which increases the chances of strong storms. El Niño occurs every two to seven years and occurs when the winds that normally push warm surface waters across the Pacific Ocean weaken, causing warm water to spread throughout the ocean. Some of the heat that would normally be absorbed by ocean waters is released into the atmosphere and raises global temperatures, a phenomenon that, combined with human-caused climate change, has been attributed to the deadly Dubai floods earlier this year. month. A study by the World Weather Attribution group in April found that extreme rainfall in the United Arab Emirates was up to 40% more intense than it would have been if it had occurred under pre-Industrial Revolution climate conditions, even taking into account the year of El Niño. Joyce Kimutai, a research associate at Imperial College London, told the Associated Press that Kenya’s extreme weather could also cite climate change as a factor for extreme rainfall, as warmer oceans cause the air to retain more moisture, producing more intense rains.

Other readings

axiosClimate change intensified deadly Dubai floodAl JazeeraKenya and Tanzania brace for Cyclone Hidaya as flood death toll risesThe Texas TribuneHarris and Montgomery counties declare emergencies due to flooding in East Texas region