The Web Site and Blog of Ted Keller

Hurricane Irma Update 9-11-17

It is nearly impossible to grasp widespread damage from such large storms as Irma.

Hurricane Irma finally made Florida peninsula landfall yesterday near Marco Island as a category 3 storm.  It’s extremely large wind field is so unlike say a tornado in which you can see the relativity small damage area.  In the case of Irma, no flyover can take in all of the damage.

Even though Irma ended up on the west coast of Florida, Miami experienced 90+ mph winds yesterday.  Indeed, all of south Florida experienced winds between 75 and 130 mph at some point.  Lots of damage reports spread over a wide area.

Flooding was occurring too: a combination of storm surge, very persistent on-shore flow and heavy rains. The forward motion of Irma limited rainfall but widespread 6-12″ totals have occurred with a few isolated higher amounts.

On-shore flow is what flooded Miami.  On the other hand, off-shore (shore to sea) winds drained a portion of Tampa Bay for a time yesterday.

The forecasts for Hurricane Irma were very good!  One has to accept that fact that precision on landfall, especially many days out, is nearly impossible.  If I was living in Florida, I would have gotten away from any coast.  There was a strong possibility of a category 4-5 landfall in a highly populated area.

I’ve already heard reports that Irma wasn’t as bad as expected.  The use of the would “expected” implies a certainty that didn’t exist.  When I was forecasting weather, one thing I had to accept early on was differences in perception. While I, the scientist , would tally a forecast as a success, there were always those who would disagree.  With a 90% chance for rain, will you ever convince the 10% that you hit the forecast?

I hope that’s it for land-falling hurricanes this year. Jose will do a “loop” out over the Atlantic and by all guidance should stay out over open water.  We are still very much in hurricane season, let’s hope for the best!

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