Friday, August 26, 2011

A Close Call

Irene came way too close for comfort in South Florida. Friday morning, this huge monster of a hurricane, with category 3 winds of 115 mph sat a mere 200 miles offshore.

It battered Puerto Rico and Hispaniola as a minimal hurricane earlier in the week, plenty of rain, winds, and flooding there. Unconfirmed reports now attribute two deaths in Haiti to Irene. Even Eastern Cuba had a push of waters as highs seas pummeled the coast.

Reports are still sketchy about injuries or damages from the Bahamas as many places are still without power . I am sure the Central and Northwestern Bahamas will report some serious damage.

Irene next to So FL early Friday morning

As most models predicted, our impacts here were light. Here is a small rundown:

  • Marine: Choppy Seas and high surf, a risk of rip currents remain
  • Rain: Many areas along the immediate coast of Northeastern Broward County, Deerfield Beach and Pompano Beach to name a few, saw between 1.5 to 2"
  • Miami Dade had some locations with as much as 1".
  • Wind: Very minimal. From Homestead through Key Biscayne, the entire coastline north through the Broward Palm Beach county line had wind gusts of up to 45 mph.
All in all, we were very fortunate not to have this monsters here.

Last word this morning,  there could be as many as 30 million people under watches and warnings across the East Coast as Irene aims for them. . (( I just heard on a news channel that NewYork through Massachusetts has only been hit by a hurricane, 5 times since 1851. I'll have to confirm that... but it sounds impressive.)))

A few storms come to mind right away when talking about the Mid-Atlantic. The most notables:

Hurricane Fran in 1996, which struck near Wilmington as a Category 3
Hurricane Emily in 1993 brushed the Outer Banks also as a Category 3
Hurricane Floyd in 1999,was the deadliest with 35 deaths.

But for a similar path, we compare Hurricane Gloria.

Gloria heading to the Outer Banks
Gloria, was a powerful Cape Verde-type hurricane that formed in 1985 . It reached Category 4 status on the Saffir-Simpson Scale near the Bahamas, but weakened significantly by the time it made landfall on North Carolina's Outer Banks.

It then hugged the coast and made a second landfall on Long Island, and, after crossing the Long Island Sound, it made a third landfall in Connecticut.

Overall, the storm caused $900 million in damages along the coast ($1.84 billion in today's value), and was responsible for eight deaths.  It was the last storm to hit the northeast until Hurricane Bob during the 1991 Atlantic hurricane season.

Hurricane Bob getting ready to hit Massachusetts
New England hasn't felt the impact of a hurricane in over 20 years, that may change this weekend.

The last was, Hurricane Bob, one the costliest hurricanes in New England history.  It first brushed the Outer Banks of North Carolina then moved north-northeastward getting stronger until reaching winds of 115 mph (cat 3).  Fortunately, it weakened slightly as it approached the coast of New England.

Bob made landfall twice in Rhode Island as a Category 2 hurricane, first on Block Island and then in Newport. Bob was the only hurricane to make U.S. landfall during the 1991 season..

Bob's wrath totaled approximately $1.5 billion (1991 USD, $2.42 billion 2011 USD) in damages. In addition, seventeen fatalities were reported.

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