Hurricane Irma remains a very powerful cat 4 hurricane this morning, with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. This is just two miles per hour away from cat 5. Irma is undergoing an eyewall replacement cycle, which often leads to some weakening. When this cycle is complete, Irma will likely re-intensify. Now, we wonder if the US is about to get hit by a cat 5 hurricane? We’ve only had three since records have been kept. There was the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 (that was before we named storms) that hit the Florida Keys, then there was Camille in 1969 at Biloxi, MS, and then there was Andrew that hit south Florida in 1992. Two of our three cat 5s have hit the southern Florida area. That’s not a good sign. Fortunately, Andrew was a very small hurricane and didn’t even affect Miami that much, but nearly wiped Homestead, FL off the map, which is just about 35 miles south of Miami! My grandfather was just three years old when the Labor Day Hurricane hit south Florida. He was in Ft. Myers, FL. He remembers his parents talking about that storm throughout his childhood and how thankful they were that the worst of that storm narrowly missed them and hit the Keys. He’s 86 years old and still remembers the stories and the damage. These are unforgettable storms whose stories survive for generations.
FEMA has announced that they are prepared to shelter 100,000 people. Hopefully, that will be enough. Mass evacuations are underway, with clogged freeways and gas stations running out of gas. Police escorts of gas tanker trucks are in south Florida to assist with folks running out of gas. All tolls on Florida highways have been suspended.
As for us, we have no weather worries at all for the next few days. Highs today through Sunday will be in the upper 60s to lower 70s, with overnight lows near 50. Enjoy this, folks, because Irma may give us quite the headache early next week.
On the current track, Irma is expected to start influencing our weather on Monday, with a slight chance of showers. The rain and wind will begin to pick up Monday night. By Tuesday, we could be looking at strong winds of 35-45 mph and isolated tornadoes. Heavy rainfall is also expected. The storm should be moving out on Wednesday. Tuesday will be our roughest day, as it looks right now. I’ll keep you updated. Some of you may remember when Hurricane Opal’s remnants came over back in 1995? We had trees blown down, lots of flooding, and school was cancelled for at least a day. Opal was still a tropical storm when it came over Crossville. So, it is possible to get these storms this far north.
Our elevation puts us up in the higher winds too, so that doesn’t help. Winds increase dramatically with height in both tornadoes and hurricanes. That’s why the high-rises in Miami will experience a category higher hurricane above the 30th floor than what they are experiencing at the ground.
On a lighter note, I just saw a story where a couple in Washington state have been married 75 years. He’s 104 and she’s 93. Their names are Harvey and Irma. They’ve seen a lot in their lives, but never two back-to-back catastrophic hurricanes named after them. When asked what the most impressive thing they’ve ever seen in their lives was, he said seeing Neil Armstrong walk on the moon and she said seeing her first airplane in the sky. When asked their life philosophy they answered, “You just do whatever you think would be best to do. If you can help someone, then help them.” I think that’s some pretty darn good advice, especially now.