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.