Thursday, September 7, 2017

Irma Afternoon Update...

Aside from her max winds down to 175 mph (from 185), Hurricane Irma remains on track to bring the strongest winds to South Florida since Hurricane Andrew back in 1992.  If you recall, many buildings suffered structural failures due to poor building codes.  Since then Florida passed the nation’s strongest building codes and Irma will put them to the test.  Most buildings can handle wind speeds up to 75 MPH.   At 100 mph, some roof damage begins along with window failure if not protected by shutters.  Above 130+, roof damage becomes widespread and walls start to fail.  Irma has been way above those limits and video from where she’s been has been graphic.  Those buildings built out of concrete & steel will be ok IF they have proper window protection (shutters, plywood).   Otherwise, buildings that do not have “ STRUCTUAL INTEGRETY” (foundations connected to the walls & roof through hurricane straps & clips) will be torn apart.   If you have relatives living in Florida, make sure they know when their building was constructed.  Those that were built to be hurricane resistant, generally after 1992, should be OK.  If the building doesn’t have functional shutters or plywood coverings, then you need to plan to go to a “safe room” during the storm if the windows blow in.  That safe room is an interior room without windows, typically the bathroom.  A little planning ahead will save you from panicking during the height of the storm.

 

The only changes this afternoon are the slightly reduced winds and a slight shift in the future track to the south delaying the expected turn to the north.  The centerline track is now still near Miami but instead of hugging the  Florida east coast, NHC now brings Irma just inland up the entire peninsula just east of Orlando and then west of Jacksonville. This would bring stronger winds farther inland on the east side of the storm.  Irma, unlike Harvey is trucking to the WNW at 16 mph.  Harvey stalled and became a rain producer.  Irma will not.  Her rainfall will be more in the line of 4-8” with some totals 6-12”.  Irma’s main impacts will be the wind.  Power outages could last for days and cell phone towers could go down cutting off communication to families outside the region.  What we learned during Katrina here in New Orleans was you could still text out but you could not call outside the area.  For many of you anxious about family members, do not be surprised to lose the ability to call your relative.  Try texting them instead to make sure they are OK.  It may take several days to get power poles back up along with cell towers.   For relatives in harm’s way, do not do stupid things…like go outside during the peak of the storm to “feel the winds”.    Those winds will carry debris large enough and moving fast enough to injure and kill.  Stay sheltered in place until the winds subside.  Also, I saw where people were taking their campers inland to camp grounds away from the water & storm surge.  Yikes!  If Irma’s winds stay up, the first structures to fail/blow over are trailers & campers.  I realize evacuations are expensive, but you need to be in a shelter that won’t fail during the storm.   I fear for Florida, Georgia & South Carolina.   Just like Camille, Irma will be no lady.  She already is a killer before reaching the U.S.   Hopefully, people along the coasts move inland & those inland stay in place.  The time line for Irma is this…Impacts begin over south Florida(Miami) near dark Saturday through most of Sunday…Central Florida (Tampa, Orlando, Daytona) impacts begin midday Sunday through early on Monday.  Farther north Monday into Tuesday.   The period of strongest winds will last 8-12 hours.  Let’s stay tuned and hope that the turn comes sooner so the worst of the storm stays offshore. Next update around 10 PM tonight.

2 comments:

Unknown said...

Bob what do you think of wind and water for us just south of Tallahassee,Fla. We are in st marks.

Unknown said...

Are you sure we are in the clear in south Mississippi this shift to the west tonight is making me a little nervous