Tag Archives: South Florida

For Florida, it is all about ERIKA now!

It’s been almost ten years since hurricane WILMA crossed over South Florida back of 24 October 2005 leaving a multi-billion dollar disaster in its path.

Relative to this long quiet period, in terms of tropical cyclone activity, it is important to ask: How much more vulnerable has our region grown over these ten years? Are we better prepared today than we were ten years ago? Will our investments in hurricane mitigation prove effective next time our region is impacted by a hurricane? What kind of an impact will the next storm surge bring after ten years of continuous exacerbation by sea level rise?

Since that fateful October day in 2005, except when storm surge generated by Hurricane SANDY caused million of dollars in damage along the coastal region in Broward County, Florida as it passed at a distance out to sea from South Florida in late October 2012, it has been a rather quiet decade in terms of hurricane activity in our neck-of-the-woods.

Infrared satellite image [NOAA] of 26 August 2015 showing a strengthening Tropical Storm ERIKA as it continues to move toward the Windward Islands
Infrared satellite image [NOAA] of 26 August 2015 showing a strengthening Tropical Storm ERIKA as it continues to move toward the Windward Islands
Quiet until now, that is! As of today Wednesday 26 October, there at a distance is Tropical Storm ERIKA, the fifth-named tropical cyclone of the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season, moving along ‘hurricane alley’ in the wake of now disintegrated Hurricane DANNY toward the windward islands, and the Bahamas and possibly South Florida beyond that.

Projected track for ERIKA as of 26 August 2015 [cOURTESY OF THE u.s. nAVAL rESEARCH lABORATORY]
Projected track for ERIKA as of 26 August 2015 [Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory)
Based on information from the National Hurricane Center (NHC), it would appear  the consensus of the hurricane forecasting models places a  by-then category 1 Hurricane ERIKA in the Florida Straits off the coast of South Florida by this coming Sunday 30 August, for a possible landfall on 1 September.

While the so-called ‘cone of uncertainty’ remains quite wide four days out, it is not too early for residents of vulnerable coastal communities in South Florida (Miami-Dade, Monroe, Collier, Broward, Palm Beach counties etc.) to start preparing and to implement their emergency plans.

In this regard it is critically important to not dismiss ERIKA because someone may refer to it as “just a category 1 storm”, keeping in mind that the combination of strong winds, extreme rain, flooding, storm surge and waves,  wind-borne and floating debris, has a tremendous capability for causing injury and extensive damage.

Mosaic of satellite images [NOAA] of 26 August 2015 showing low-level winds across the Atlantic basin. Notice the position of Tropical Storm ERIKA and Florida
Mosaic of satellite images [NOAA] of 26 August 2015 showing low-level winds across the Atlantic basin. Notice the position of Tropical Storm ERIKA and Florida
It is also critically important to monitor the progress of ERIKA closely over the next few days, to listen to the warnings and alerts issued by local emergency management authorities, and to pay attention to information provided by the NHC and the National Weather Service. Be prepared. Remain alert. MITIGATE!

TD NINE – DISTURBED SOUTH FLORIDA WEATHER

Satellite image (NOAA) of 22 October 2014 showing water vapor in the atmosphere, which highlights the cell of disturbed weather near the Florida straits and northwestern Cuba that has been generating plenty of rain, causing flooding, over South Florida
Satellite image (NOAA) of 22 October 2014 showing water vapor in the atmosphere, which highlights the cell of disturbed weather near the Florida straits and northwestern Cuba that has been generating plenty of rain, causing flooding, over South Florida

The weather system over the Bay of Campeche and the Yucatan peninsula, now Tropical Depression NINE, is drifting rather slowly toward the east across the Yucatan peninsula where it is generating  plenty of rain. The latest forecast has TD NINE emerging over the northwestern Caribbean, but there is uncertainty as to what it will do once it is there. It is possible that it will continue toward Cuba, but there is a chance that it might turn toward the Gulf and Florida. We will have to wait and see, while we monitor TD NINE closely.

Meanwhile, a large cell of disturbed weather between the Yucatan, Cuba and the Florida straits has been generating copious rain over South Florida since yesterday (Tuesday 21 October 2014), causing flooding in several areas, especially in Palm Beach County. This disturbance will continue tracking over South Florida where more rain and flooding are expected, especially on Thursday and Friday of this week.

National Weather Service report of TD NINE and the disturbed weather system affecting South Florida since yesterday
National Weather Service report of TD NINE and the disturbed weather system affecting South Florida since yesterday

This Friday 24 October 2014 is the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Wilma crossing of South Florida, which will mark nine years without a hurricane making landfall in Florida. The luck of the draw may have been in our favor all of these years, but we will do well to remain alert, be prepared, and keep on practicing MITIGATION!