Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Jose: September 10, Update B

Just like everyone in Florida, I’ve been waiting and watching as she slowly crossed Florida Bay this morning... and I’m about 3,000 miles from Irma! I’ve had to resort to desperate measures in order not to obsessively refresh the websites every 2 minutes. Things like cleaning the kitchen, doing the laundry, and having a mid-day glass of wine (ahem, to show support of course ;-))!

Hurricane Irma
As you know, she made her second landfall in Florida today at 3.35pm EDT on Marco Island, just south of Naples, officially as a weak cat 3 storm with winds of 115mph (cat 3 range: 111-129mph).

She has been downgraded further and is now officially a strong cat 2/borderline cat 3 storm with winds of 110mph (cat 2 range: 96-110mph), central pressure 940mb. From her satellite imagery, she now looks weaker than that to me – there is almost no eye (generally an eye appears in cat 1 storms of around 90mph or higher):

Also, looking at the data from measurements on the ground, the Naples sensor from Tides Online is around 55 knots (64mph). She has passed this location though, which we know because the pressure reached a minimum and the winds changed so the water levels rapidly changed from 4 ft below normal to 5 ft above normal:

She is at 26.6N, 81.7W, heading N at 14mph:

I don’t know why the ‘dot’ hasn’t shifted from being right over Tampa all day, despite her clearly tracking to the east… either there is a chance she will do a NW turn before getting that far north, or the models haven’t finished their work so the track hasn’t included the latest model runs yet. My money is on the later option. We’ll see if it shifts east in the next update.

Her center, in the Fort Myers area, is now also visible on the Tampa National Weather Service radar. The NWS radar also shows the rain bands and tornado warning areas, so a useful thing to look at:
As I said earlier this morning, this is the best-case scenario for Florida – the longer she had stayed over the water and up the west coast, the worst the impact would be. It would essentially mean the entire state would be on her bad side as anything east of her center is on the rougher side of the storm. But with every hour on land and in that wind shear, she is weakening.

In south Florida, 2 million people are without power at the moment and I’ve already heard reports of power fluctuations and failures in Tampa Bay. I also saw a video of a roof being blown off a building in Miami (on the east side) this morning. Even though she is weakening, there will be some damage from the rain bands, which have some strong convective activity (thunderstorms) and tornadoes in them – a hurricane is not just that one big storm, but a collection of stormy weather. However, at least the sustained winds will not be as strong.

A big shout out to the emergency preparedness folks – people who are not with their families and friends today because they are working, getting ready for whatever happens (e.g. Fire Departments (this is for you Mark Z.!), Police, Hospitals etc.). The power companies and workers have also been staging over the last couple of days in Georgia, so they can swoop in and restore power as quickly as possible.

Taking a step back to Cuba, who got hit by Irma as a cat 5 storm. The island interaction really took the edge off her before she got to Florida and luckily, so far, there are no casualties reported and over 1 million people evacuated in time. However, the island infrastructure, including Havana, did take a huge hit as she skirted the northern coast. There is a compilation of photos on Irma’s impact on Cuba from AFP/Getty, AP, and Reuters on this Daily Mail page.

She also hit the Turks and Caicos as a cat 5 storm just before getting to Cuba (and mostly sparing the Bahamas!). Here’s a video and report on this BBC news page showing a fraction of the destruction there. 

Hurricane Jose
He is now at 22.8N, 66.9W heading NW at 16mph. Winds are now 120mph, central pressure is 956mb. This makes him a mid-size cat 3 storm (cat 3 range: 111-129mph):
I think he is a bit weaker than this, but he has an easily visible eye (in the visible satellite images) so I would say he is definitely a cat 2. His track shows that he will loop around in the Atlantic, so until that mess clears up and we have a better idea of where he is really going, everyone in Bermuda, the Turks & Caicos, the Bahamas, and the eastern seaboard (including Florida) should keep an eye on him:
We should have a better idea in the next day or two on the approximate direction he is going to take. If he survives hanging out in the Atlantic (which he most likely will at this time), we are looking at landfall somewhere maybe next weekend – Sunday or Monday perhaps.

Meanwhile, back in Florida today/tonight/tomorrow… as I said, even though Irma is weakening, be careful. Once she passes, please do not step in puddles or wade through water as there may be downed live power lines! And please please do not pick up any 'moving' sticks!! 

I will be back tomorrow with an update - unless something very dodgy happens tonight.

Stay safe!

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Twitter @JyovianStorm
DISCLAIMER: These remarks are just what I think/see regarding tropical storms - not the opinion of any organization I represent. If you are making an evacuation decision, please heed your local emergency management and the National Hurricane Center's official forecast and the National Weather Service announcements. This is not an official forecast. If I "run away, run away" (Monty Python), I'll let you know. 

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