Category Archives: science and meteorology

Wild warm water!

Hurricane Irma has, since my last post, been reduced to a Cat 3 storm as she slowly traversed the North side of Cuba.  Not a lot of info, yet (or photos), to see what happened in Cuba; but the windspeed as the storm came ashore on the NE shore of Cuba yesterday, was in excess of 165 knots – a biggie-sized Cat 5 storm.

As of this afternoon, the eye of Hurricane Irma has left the NW shore of Cuba and moved back across warm water.  Depending on her speed, Irma could regain significant strength as she crosses the Florida Strait (and the warm water of the gulf stream); and, with current models showing a track up the western side of Florida, Irma will have the continuing benefit of warm water in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.  She could regain the high wind speeds of a super-cyclone.

Obviously not evacuating from South Beach. Why?

My armchair forecast says Irma will make US landfall, on the far SW corner of the Florida peninsula, as a strong Cat 4 storm.  If the eye of the depression remains offshore, then the storm may yet strengthen.

Thank God the people of Florida, the government agencies and first responders, have such remarkable experience and planning for hurricanes like Irma.  Hurricane Andrew, which struck the SE side of the Florida peninsula in 1992, was a strong Cat 5 storm with sustained winds of 150 knots at landfall.  177 knot gusts were recorded at Homestead Air Base, where there was enormous loss of life and property.

Plus, the reaction of the US government following Andrew’s landfall was very questionable.  Conspiracy theorists say the death toll from Andrew was ten times higher than officially reported.  If you look at the aftermath of Andrew (photos and videos) it’s not hard to believe the death toll was higher.  Vast swaths of that part of Florida were literally scraped down to the dirt.  Many foundations but no houses or buildings left.  There were many reports of federal workers who moved quickly to steer media away from the tragedy around Homestead Air Field, to gather the dead and – according to some reports – bury them in mass graves.  25 years later, census data reflects a disappearance of more than 12,000 people following Andrew.

Ironically, the government still doesn’t want to comment about Hurricane Andrew.

Our federal agencies tasked with confronting large natural disasters have become much much better, though, since the early 90s, and communication between the the federal and state responders is vastly better.


New info on Irma

The storm has steered due west across the northern coast of Cuba, enough so that much of her uplift mechanism is currently over dry land.    Will likely reduce both windspeed and rainfall forecasts for this evening.  I still believe, though, Irma will regain Category 5 strength before her Sunday landfall on the Florida Peninsula.  Folks on the Southwest side of Florida and the Gulf barrier islands – from Ft Myers Beach north to the north side of Tampa – should already be gone.  I think the impact along the Ft Myers coastline will be the worst they’ve seen there is more than 100 yrs.



Strong Storm for Florida

From what I can see in the forecasts, Hurricane Irma will resume her Cat 5 status as she crosses the warm water of the Gulf Stream and the Florida Straits.  If she steers West up the western coast of Florida, then all the more reason she will reach some high windspeed records.

But I don’t think the storm will cross the really susceptible parts of Florida.  Miami, Ft Lauderdale, the SE coast.  This is an intense, well-developed hurricane with extremely dangerous wind.  When she strikes the Florida peninsula, I predict there will be wind gusts above 200 mph.  If you think the theme parks at Orlando are such a big deal, please go now and write a check to the American Red Cross.

Irma’s a nearly picture-perfect repeat of Hurricane Andrew; but with some important differences.  Andrew came ashore as a force 5 storm in South Dade County and caused such significant loss of property and life over Homestead Air Base, the reports and post-storm imagery were simply devastating.  Unfortunately, FEMA was barely an agency confronted by a huge loss of life.  There are many, some maybe credible, accounts of US Govt responders (FEMA) burying the dead in mass graves.  Estimates of life lost in Hurricane Andrew range from about 1,000 to well over 10,000.

But FEMA is a fully legitimate (and accountable) federal agency now, and we have many more ways to insure credible response from FEMA and other important disaster relief agencies.  Our gross response to Irma is phenomenal and very well coordinated.  Federal response is exceptional and appropriate.  FEMA, Red Cross, and state agencies in Florida are wayy ahead of the tragedy this storm COULD inflict.

We gotta remember the people of Florida confront at least one big storm every year.  Many years 3-4 big tropical storms.  Public preparedness and planning, unlike in SE Texas, is taken very seriously and it’s much more effective than the government planning in Texas.

Still.  I do think Irma will make landfall, as a category 5 cyclone, on the SW tip of the Florida, and will remain a dangerous Category 4 storm as her center moves up the western half of Florida.  Onshore flows (storm surges) may not be as strong as those predicted for the eastern side of the peninsula; but winds surrounding Irma’s eyewall will be ferocious.  Remember, this storm was making windspeeds of 225mph as she traversed Puerto Rico – and she still has the Florida Strait (with very warm water temps) before we see her come ashore.

If I were in Miami, Ft Lauderdale, or Tampa, I’d be inclined to hunker down.  Run from water, stay for wind.

Ft Myers, though, or the barrier islands to the West, I’d already be gone.  Sanibel Island, for example, might be completely scraped.  I’m all for that, so long as life isn’t lost.

Y’all folks at Ft Myers and Sanibel Island, get your feet down deep in the sand!  If you’re gonna stay, then stay strong.  When the building disintegrates, find the lowest place you can and stay low.  It’s gonna blow.  Keep your love, tolerance and faith FIRST-most in your minds.  Gather up water, hunker down in safe places TOGETHER, be kind and care for each other no matter what, and be safe.  Remember our story of Noah and his Raven.  This too shall pass.


Prayers from a prayerful church of God,

Steven Milstead

Hurricane Irma

Right now, she’s a spectacular storm and still over warm water without any real deterrences to additional development.  Sustained winds are above 150mph with windspeeds recorded earlier today at +175mph near the surface below the eye wall.

This storm will likely enter the Eastern Gulf of Mexico by the weekend; but the current tracking models show the storm crossing the heart of the Caribbean with plenty of likelihood for weakening as the storm crosses many many islands.  My “armchair” analysis says this will be a Florida storm – that Irma will come into the Gulf and curl eastward across the Florida peninsula early Saturday.

Will this be another Andrew for the people of Florida?  I kinda don’t think so.  Crossing all the dry land as she traverses the Caribbean, is going to impact both the strength and steerage of Irma.  I look for landfall, and significant damage, along the SW coast of Florida; particularly the Ft Myers and Sanibel Island coast.  Tampa will feel some strong winds and rain.  If Irma doesn’t hook eastward pretty quickly, then Tampa and Orlando will feel a strong hit.

It’s been a while since they had a really severe storm come ashore South of Tampa.  They experience strong tropical storms there nearly every year; but Irma is starting to look like a superstorm.  Not unlike Andrew.  If she remains above cat4 crossing the Caribbean, she’s going to cause immeasurable damage to the Leewards, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and likely Cuba.  If she does endure that trip across the Caribbean as a cat4 storm, then the warm water of the SE Gulf of Mexico will easily push her back to cat5 before she slams ashore around Ft Myers.

She’s a beautiful storm, though.  The sat images are stunning and the sonde reports/doppler images are incredible.  The weather buoys in that vicinity are reporting 60ft wave heights and gusts to nearly 180mph.