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Hurricane Irma

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Well it's now in the news that...Jacksonville got hit hard.  Again, these things have the peculiar habit of hitting some area that wasn't part of the original warning area.  Apparently nearly 1 million homes in Georgia don't have power right now. 

 

Andrew was an anomaly for several reasons -- one the unprecedented intensity of the winds.  Second, for actually traveling in a pretty straight line. 

 

Back in 2005 the media was caught sleeping with Katrina because they hyped up its Florida landfall.  That ended up being a bit of a non-event, but then it regained power in the Gulf and devastated New Orleans.  Now nobody even remembers that Katrina crossed Florida. 

 

 

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Well it's now in the news that...Jacksonville got hit hard.  Again, these things have the peculiar habit of hitting some area that wasn't part of the original warning area.  Apparently nearly 1 million homes in Georgia don't have power right now. 

 

Andrew was an anomaly for several reasons -- one the unprecedented intensity of the winds.  Second, for actually traveling in a pretty straight line. 

 

Back in 2005 the media was caught sleeping with Katrina because they hyped up its Florida landfall.  That ended up being a bit of a non-event, but then it regained power in the Gulf and devastated New Orleans.  Now nobody even remembers that Katrina crossed Florida.

They are going to have a lot of downed uprooted trees on power lines. The trees there not designed to handle 60 MPH winds.

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I guess the impact on the Gulf Coast wasn't so bad, but this is really cool. I remember when I used to visit relatives in Sarasota some old-timer neighbors would tell a story about one hurricane (I think it was in the 1920's!) that the water receded in the bay, like it did here (or maybe it was Hurricane Donna in 1960)

 

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Tampa got super lucky.  If that water had gone the other way a majority of Tampa would have been under water.  I don't think there's a spot in that town that's more than 20 ft above the level of the bay.

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Tampa got super lucky.  If that water had gone the other way a majority of Tampa would have been under water.  I don't think there's a spot in that town that's more than 20 ft above the level of the bay.

Email from friend,

 

Well, this has unquestionably been the greatest non-event to ever hit Tampa.  I'm back at home in my Tampa Bay island waterfront condo where the street is 6' above water level and it never flooded.  None of my 3 separate family member's homes had a single minute of uninterrupted power, internet, or cable TV.  Yes, we are grateful and yes, it could have been much much worse.

 

I'm sure that the media is showing you films of waterfront mobile home parks in Naples that are underwater and torn apart.  And our hearts and prayers go out to the people who have their second homes and fishing camps there.  Many homes with above ground power near large oak tree branches are without electricity.  Not unusual.  But in Tampa, I've seen more trees and branches down in a bad thunderstorm.

 

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^

Incredibly it is being reported that the eye passed east of Key West and that most of the buildings are still standing (it looked like it was going to go directly overhead).  But the keys from Key West toward the mainland got hit very hard.  It's amazing how capricious these storms are -- how much more intense the effect is on the leading edge of the storm as opposed to the trailing side.  Last year the east coast of Florida was largely spared because Mathew's eye somehow stayed 5-10 miles offshore as it made its 200-mile trip parallel to the coast. 

 

Also, the pictures coming out of Cuba look pretty dramatic.  No comparison between the effects of a Category 5 landfall and 3 or lower.

 

I've already seen damage estimates near $70 billion for Irma.  That's still a top 5 damaging storm, despite its weaker strength.  If that's the case, I can't imagine what the cost would've been if it had hit the Miami area at Cat 5.  It's only a matter of time until that happens. 

 

Next up is Jose, which looks to threaten some part of the East Coast early next week. 

 

There is no forecast beyond five days. Jose will still be well in the Atlantic by then. Anything else you are reading about Jose's path is pure speculation. The GFS is showing it making landfall in 10 days on the coast. The Euro and Canadian models spin it back out to sea. All these forecasts are statistically worthless beyond a week.

 

Twelve days ago, the GFS had Irma marching up the Chesapeake and making landfall in DC. The Euro had it buzzing Miami but going out to sea between NC and Bermuda. All wrong.

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Well, this has unquestionably been the greatest non-event to ever hit Tampa. 

 

I just read that the highest wind gust recorded at Tampa's airport was a paltry 65mph!  Hard to believe after seeing that storm heading directly at it.  It appears that when the storm made landfall near Naples that there were no more full rotations around the eye and the force of the last turn was shot mostly to the west, across the state.  Maybe that's how so much commotion happened up toward Jacksonville.   

 

Meanwhile, it appears that Atlanta got hit about as hard as Tampa.  State and local government shut-down, 900 flights cancelled, 1 million without power.  So everyone from Tampa who hid in Atlanta made out no better! 

 

 

 

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Yeah, if the storm hadn't been weakened and deflected by Cuba, this could have been way, way worse.  When you see the videos that compare the Cat 3-4 winds that hit Key West with what hit Miami, it's obviously a totally different game. 

 

So this idiot is out there in maybe 110~ mph gusts on Key West, essentially a fraction of the 150mph that hit the Caribbean islands last week.  Andrew actually hit south of Miami in 1992 with 150mph winds and blew apart 60,000 houses. 

 

Plenty of damage and flooding in Naples, but it doesn't look like many roofs were blown off:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/hurricane-irma-caused-sizable-damage-naples-drone-footage/story?id=49757223

 

I never understood why they send people out there. You can set up cameras and show the footage without having a reporter live on the scene. Maybe they know that a lot of the American public wants to see reporters get blown away by a hurricane.

 

I am very good friends with one of the individuals in this video (the guy in the shorts in the second half of the video).  Just to set the record straight, both of these guys are independent, self-employed storm chasers.  No one "sent" them out there to record that video.  It was strictly their own choices to do that video.    They obtain videos of these severe weather events and then sell them to the new media outlets.

 

Not that I am trying to downplay the seriousness in that video, but do keep in mind that both of these guys are extremely experienced storm chasers.  From Katrina to Ike to Harvey to Irma, for every major hurricane that has hit the US in the past 15 years +/-, these guys have been right where the eye has come ashore.  They're also out there for 3+ months every spring driving thousands of miles chasing every major tornado event.    And in the winter, they're out there driving to cover the mega blizzards and ice storms. 

 

After I saw this video on Sunday, I too questioned if it was worth it, but I can almost guarantee that they positioned themselves in a place where there was a very limited chance of getting hit with debris.    However, it must also be noted that if the winds were only slightly stronger, it's quite possible that Juston would have lost his battle with the wind and could have very easily ended up in the water.

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A nice write-up from the NY Times:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/11/us/storm-surge-irma-flooding.html?mcubz=0

 

It details how the chance change of tack at the very end -- just as it passed over the keys -- made the difference between the non-event in Tampa and widespread destruction.  The water pulled out of the bay instead of surging in -- the complete opposite of the prediction!  Toward the end of the article it notes that this near-miss will breed increased hurricane complacency in Florida.  Duh. 

 

So Florida got incredibly lucky with both Mathew last year and Irma this year.  A slight change of course for both storms would have meant 100+ billion in damage. 

 

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