Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Hurricane Irma Predictions

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
As the resident Floridian of Blue Collar Prepping, I've received more than a few questions about my plans and my safety from friends who are watching Hurricane Irma
get closer to me.

And these are not unfounded fears. As I write this, Irma is now a Category 5 storm with winds up to 185 miles per hour. As Miguel said, this mean Irma is essentially an F3 tornado that is the size of the entire state.

My attitude about Irma can best be summed up with this picture:

So you can bet that I'm keeping a weather eye on the situation. Now is an excellent time to look over my preps and plan my escape route. This is made slightly harder by the fact that my personal vehicle has a problem with its electrical system, making it undriveable; my options are "rent a car" or "use one of my parent's vehicles". The former is expensive, and the closer the storm gets, the fewer options I'm going to have (and prices will likely increase); the latter doesn't make me comfortable because if my parents come to their senses and decide to leave, they'll have to fit two adults, two dogs and all their gear into a single vehicle. Fortunately it's a Jeep Patriot, so it's SUV-ish in terms of space, but more cars always means more space and more carried gear.

But right now, I'm not worried, merely concerned. Here's why.

This is the prediction of Irma as of 8 pm Sunday night. People started asking me "OMG, Erin, aren't you scared about Irma?" and my reaction was "What, did something change?" because I hadn't realized it had grown to a Cat 3. And looking at the spaghetti models, it's pretty scary; lots of "It's heading right for us!" in there.

(The red line with the time and date stamps is either the average of the models or the prediction with the highest probability, I'm not sure which.)

This is what those models looked like 11 am yesterday. Notice how the predictions have shifted from the east coast of the state to the west coast. While this is worse news for Tampa and Miami, this is great news for me.

This was taken this morning (spaghetti models removed for clarity, as they all pretty much indicated a hit on either the southern tip of Florida or the west coast near Tampa).

This was taken this afternoon, and there's much less deviation on the red line than before, indicating that the forecasters may finally have a lock on Irma's path. At this point, the models all pretty much agree that Irma will turn north; the question is when it turns, and by how much.

Most of those aren't bad for me, not even the bright purple line bisecting the state. This is because, even though it's aimed right at me, there's a LOT of land between the tip of Florida and where I live, and hurricanes lose a lot of power once they make landfall. (And this isn't even counting what power it may lose over Cuba and Hispanola.)

The gray line isn't too bad, because again the landfall is going to be an energy sink for me. If that happens, Irma will probably be a Cat 2 by the time it gets here, which is strong enough to keep things interesting but not enough to induce panic.


The bright blue line along the coast is actually the most dangerous for me, because if the eye stays along the coast without actually making landfall it won't lose much power, and the front left quadrant of the storm is the one with the greatest storm surge. The good news is that I live far enough away, and on sufficiently high ground, that I'm highly unlikely to be flooded. The bad news is that the most highly populated parts of my county live close to the shore, and are likely to be affected by flooding. And then of course there's the wind damage and loss of utilities that will affect all of us.

So I'm not worried, but I am concerned. I don't wish harm on anyone, but at the same time I don't want to get hit either... and it looks like Irma is going to hit someone. Maybe, if we're fantastically lucky, it'll expend its strength on Cuba, reduce to a Cat 1 or tropical storm, and just give us a lot of rain for several days.

Right now, Miami and the Keys need to begin evacuation. I'm told it takes 2 days for the Keys to evacuate, and while I don't know how long it takes the Miami metro area to GFTO, considering that it has 6 million people (8th largest city in the US) it'll probably take a while, so starting sooner and skipping the traffic congestion is a good idea.

Don't worry about me yet. I'll let you know when it's time to worry.

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