Tag Archives: Hurricane

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.



Harvey brings it to Texas

It appears Gulf Hurricane Harvey may make landfall tomorrow, as a Cat 3 or Cat 4 hurricane, along the South Texas coast between Port Mansfield and Port Lavaca.


I grew up spending “hurricane seasons” on the Texas coast.  I have clear memories of Hurricane Beulah, which brought a high storm surge and rainfall/flooding in San Antonio and South Texas.  I remember the fam gathered up in the back of our San Antonio home, watching the storm progress on our old GE black & white TV, as severe thunderstorms and lightning persisted through the night.

It was Hurricane Celia, though, when I was ten years old, that I best remember.  Our family had a wonderful old beach house at Rockport TX, and we barely got inland before Celia struck.  That hurricane, which made landfall across Port Aransas and St. Jo’s Island then crossed inland at Aransas Pass, dealt a severe blow to the communities on the North end of Padre Island.  More significantly, Celia spawned dozens of tornadoes across the Corpus Christi area.  Winds clocked at Corpus Christi exceeded 200 mph, arguably the highest wind speeds of any hurricane in history; though it’s since been argued those were tornadoes and not recordings of actual hurricane winds.

You say tomato and I say tomAto.  Celia shut down the city of Corpus Christi for over a week.  Overhead photos of the city were evidence enough the storm had virtually erased large swaths of Corpus Christi and surrounding communities.

Famous story I remember of a woman in a volkswagen on the CC causeway.  She claimed the car had been spun overhead and lengthwise for nearly 2 minutes before she was set down in the oil & gas terminal 3-4 miles away.  Plenty of those weird photos of sticks driven through large trees, glass shards that cut cement columns in half.  Celia was the last really bad hurricane we’ve had on the South Texas coast.