Thursday, August 25, 2011

Irene's Sideswipe

In response to enquiries let me say that the Lower Keys are watching Irene go by with a certain equanimity. Aside from some strongish North winds we have been unaffected by the large hurricane currently ravaging the Bahamas.

The Florida Keys are frequently viewed with pity, seen a string of vulnerable little islands strung out to sea, close to sea level and unprotected from the force of any passing tropical cyclone. Yet this is only part of the picture. Shallow reefs surround the islands and those rocks help protect the islands from storm surge. Cuba to the south has a long line of mountains along it's back and they too help the Keys, for they tend to break up the winds and deprive them of the warm water the hurricanes need to stay in business.

Storms from the Yucatan, a rare event happily, tend to bring floods as they drive the water onto the less protected western end of the islands, just as Wilma did in 2005.

The other thing about the Keys is that it's difficult to live here and not be aware of one's vulnerability. Thus people who live here tend to be better adapted to adversity and better prepared for the effects of a major storm. After the storms of 2004 and 2005 there was the sort of coming together of the residents that one hopes to see in any crisis.

So now we sit here and watch our neighbors in the Bahamas get trashed, this is their worst drubbing in years, and up next the Outer Banks and after that, who knows...I heard on the radio that New York City is mobilizing it's police to meet the effects of Hurricane Irene.

Up next we see another big red blob in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, preparing doubtless to become Jose as it approaches the Antilles in the Caribbean. It is too early to get nervous about that but I am sure all of us in it's potential path will be monitoring the progress of the big red blob...

Everyone who lives in the hurricane zone develops theories and my theory is the path of the season's storms is set early on. I hope I'm right because Western Caribbean storms have chosen to trash Belize while storms further north so far have preferred an Atlantic path. For my sake, selfishly, I hope that continues.

Best wishes to all Up North preparing to get trashed. All this, and snow in winter just seems very unfair to me.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Chuck and the Pheebs said...

I've been nosing around forecasts - and they're calling for a 6-10' storm surge on top of a +3' high tide Saturday.

If you life reasonably close to the ocean (as in a couple of miles) you might want to figure out what your finished floor elevation is. For example, 9' of water up the Chesapeake will flood Washington DC's Mall, if I recall right.

Could get a little messy up yonder.

KWBound said...

"All this, and snow in winter just seems very unfair to me."

Me, too. During the past two seasons in the mid-Atlantic, we've had hip-deep snow, torrential rains, an earthquake and now Irene. I'm ready to give it all up at my first opportunity and head south permanently. I'd rather just "suffer" through the worry of seasonal tropical cyclones and forget all these other weather-related anomalies!

We're waiting patiently for Irene at the top of the Chesapeake.
She's "scheduled" to hit here between 10 p.m. Saturday through 2 p.m. Sunday. Do hurricanes really have schedules??? The Weather Channel must keep that appointment book. What on earth did we do before NOAA and TWC?!

Conchscooter said...

we got hit by surprise. which may not have been too terrible as there were fewer things to lose and fewer ways to get out of the way.