With each new advisory issued by the National Hurricane Center about the course and intensity of Hurricane IRMA, we all become exponentially more awe striken at the powerful display of Mother Nature, and wonder how much more intense can this storm grow?
The latest data I have seen shows that as of 1515 EST IRMA was packing sustained winds of 294 kph (184 mph) with even higher gusts, and its then current central pressure had already dropped to 926 mb. This is by far the stronger hurricane active in the open Atlantic since records have been kept. New record may still be set in coming days as the hurricane encounters even warmer surface waters.We can only wait and see what happens.
Visible light and infrared imagery focusing on water vapor in the atmosphere show an impressive image of IRMA as it approached the northern Winward Islands, and the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico beyond. In these images we can also see the ‘chase’ tropical wave following behind IRMA , which is already displaying some cyclonic characteristics.
Awesome as this display of power is, it is even more worrying because of the vast potential for causing damage that this hurricane has as it gets closer to various land masses along its path including our Florida peninsula, which remains within the ‘cone of uncertainty’ of the predicted track of IRMA in coming days.
IRMA may be the ‘big one’ we have speculated about for the past 25 years, or it may not. Only time will tell and we will find out soon enough. Now is the time to take the potential impact from IRMA’s wind and water extremely seriously and take all precautions necessary to protect life and property. May God protect us all.
A bit more than two weeks ago one more tropical wave emerged from equatorial Africa over the waters of the eastern Atlantic, south of the Cape Verde Islands. By August 18th if was morphing into a tropical storm over the eastern Caribbean aiming for the area of Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, Eventually it made landfall and traversed the Yucatan to then emerge over the Bay of Campeche in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico where it reorganized, gained strength and became Hurricane HARVEY!
While we were commemorating the 25th anniversary of Cat 5 Hurricane ANDREW (1992), and remembering all the devastation and lessons learned, HARVEY continued to strengthen as it approached the Texas coastline and a vast region of very warm surface waters in the northern Gulf. We all know what happened next, Harvey intensified rapidly near the coast reaching category 4 strength as it made its second landfall. We all know the rest of the story, in fact we are all watching the story develop as Harvey is pouring a veritable deluge, one for the record books, over a vast region of Texas.
Keeping an eye of Harvey should not detract us from also looking at the rest of the Atlantic basin, which is quite agitated on this Sunday 27 August 2017. The tropical wave that was in the eastern Gulf near Florida, has caused abundant rain over central and southern Florida while traversing the state and emerging over the Atlantic where it is now off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina, getting organized and looking poised for possible cyclonic development.
Beyond this potential new threat of cyclonic impact to our coastline, we see yet another tropical wave over the eastern Gulf, and a few more from the neighborhood of Puerto Rico to the eastern Atlantic near the Cape Verde Islands. In fact that still far away tropical wave off the African coast is already showing some cyclonic tendencies that warrant close monitoring in coming days.
So, the entire Atlantic basin appears agitated and populated by ‘seeds’ for potential cyclogenesis in coming days, just as we approach what historically has been the peak of the annual Atlantic hurricane season. Food for thought. All interest in the Caribbean, Gulf, Florida and the Atlantic seaboard of the U.S. must remain alert. Be prepared. MITIGATE!