CORAL REEFS AND HURRICANE DAMAGE ON ABACO BAHAMAS


Reef Corals, Abaco Bahamas (Melinda Rogers / Dive Abaco)

CORAL REEFS AND HURRICANE DAMAGE ON ABACO BAHAMAS

The spectacular coral reef chains of the Bahamas include the 3rd largest barrier reef in the world. Abaco’s reef system stretches from Little Harbour to beyond the northern end of the mainland, as Sandy Estabrook’s map shows. Inside the reef: the Sea of Abaco. Beyond the reef and the next landfall east: Western Sahara, south of the Canary Islands.Abaco Map Sandy Estabrook
A rainbow effect of filtered sunlight on sea fansReef Corals, Abaco Bahamas (Melinda Rogers / Dive Abaco)
Since the devastation of Abaco by Hurricane Dorian last September, a number of surveys have been carried out. Some of these relate to the impact of the storm on the natural world – the damaged forest and coppice, the bird-life including the Abaco specialities, and the marine life including marine mammals, fish, and reef structures and environments.
Reef Corals, Abaco Bahamas (Melinda Rogers / Dive Abaco)
A recent assessment by the Perry Institute for Marine Sciences (PIMS) in Abaco and Grand Bahama waters has been carried out on the coral reefs to determine the extent to which the vulnerable structure, ecology and environment has been damaged. Some details have just been published in the Nassau Guardian in an article by Paige McCartney. The LINK is below.
Reef Corals, Abaco Bahamas (Melinda Rogers / Dive Abaco)
DAMAGE FINDINGS IN BRIEF
  • 25 – 30% of the 29 reef sites surveyed are devastated
  • factors include damage from debris, silt burial, and bleaching
  • uprooted casuarina trees were caught in the storm surge, causing damage
  • in particular, corals have been smashed and reef structure destroyed
  • there is biomass loss – basically reduced populations of fish & other organisms

Reef Corals, Abaco Bahamas (Melinda Rogers / Dive Abaco)

RAYS OF LIGHT
Although the reef systems of both islands have been significantly damaged, in other areas little damage was found. Moreover, in some areas the storm had washed away some types of seaweed that are harmful to the reefs. The hope is that restoration of the damaged areas can be achieved with careful management.
Reef Corals, Abaco Bahamas (Melinda Rogers / Dive Abaco)
WHAT CAN BE DONE NOW?
Action towards restoration and future protection includes:
  • removal of debris and other deleterious matter (eg silt)
  • cutting back the non-native, invasive casuarinas from the shoreline
  • restoration programs (recent successes with ‘coral farming’ could be vital)
  • extending marine protected areas
  • developing a rapid response protocol to meet extreme situations

Reef Corals, Abaco Bahamas (Melinda Rogers / Dive Abaco)

The reports ends with some welcome news: Government departments have recently proposed putting $5 million towards a coral restoration project on Abaco, including the establishment of a and-based aquaculture facility to support coral growth in nurseries. Let’s hope that becomes a reality.

The publication of the PIMS report and its findings gives some hope of recovery for the fragile reef environment of the northern Bahamas. Other factors may reverse the optimism of course, not least the accelerating warming of the seas and the exponentially expanding pollution problem such as this, recently reported

This has been an opportunity to revisit the clear waters around Abaco where Melinda Rogers of Dive Abaco took these astonishing photos of coral on the local reefs. If the coral is destroyed or dies, this is what our children and their children will be be missing.

Click the brain coral to link to the Nassau Guardian Article

All photos, Melinda Rogers / Dive Abaco; Map, Sandy Estabrook; Nassau Guardian / Paige McCartney; Perry Institute for Marine Sciences (PIMS)

Reef Corals, Abaco Bahamas (Melinda Rogers / Dive Abaco)

ELKHORN CORAL, ABACO BAHAMAS (DORIAN UPDATE)


Elkhorn Coral, Abaco Bahamas (Melinda Rogers / Dive Abaco)

ELKHORN CORAL, ABACO BAHAMAS (DORIAN UPDATE)

Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) is a widespread reef coral, an unmistakeable species with large branches that resemble elk antlers. The dense growths create an ideal shady habitat for many reef creatures. These include reef fishes of all shapes and sizes, lobsters, shrimps and many more besides. Some of these are essential for the wellbeing of the reef and also its denizens.

Elkhorn Coral, Abaco Bahamas (Melinda Rogers / Dive Abaco)

GOOD POST-DORIAN NEWS ABOUT ABACORAL

A recent report from FRIENDS OF THE ENVIRONMENT brings encouraging news about the reefs of  Abaco post-hurricane, and an indication of the resilience of the coral to extreme conditions (with one exception for a reef too close to the shore to avoid damage from debris).

Shortly before Dorian hit, The Perry Institute for Marine Science and its partners surveyed reefs across Grand Bahama and Abaco to assess their health. Following Dorian, they were able to reassess these areas and the impact of the hurricane. Over the 370 miles that the surveys covered, minimal damage was found on the majority of reefs. Unfortunately Mermaid Reef, where FRIENDS does most of our educational field trips, sustained extensive damage due to debris from its close proximity to the shoreline. We are looking into how we can help with logistics to get the debris removed, and hopefully the recovery will begin soon.

Elkhorn Coral, Pelican Cays, Abaco Bahamas (Friends of the Environment)

Elkhorn coral standing strong post-Dorian at Sandy Cay Reef, Pelican Shores, Abaco

The scientists were also able to visit four of the Reef Rescue Network’s coral nurseries and assess out-planted corals in national parks in both Grand Bahama and Abaco. The great news is that all of the corals on these nurseries survived the storm and will be used to support reef restoration. Also from the surveys, it appears that our offshore reefs around Abaco sustained minimal damage, including Sandy Cay Reef in Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park (pictured above). This gives us hope for the recovery of our oceans post-Dorian and proves how resilient these amazing ecosystems are.

Elkhorn Coral, Abaco Bahamas (Melinda Rogers / Dive Abaco)

Examples of species vital for healthy corals include several types of PARROTFISH, the colourful and voracious herbivores that spend most of their time eating algae off the coral reefs using their beak-like teeth. This algal diet is digested, and the remains excreted as sand. Tread with care on your favourite beach; in part at least, it will consist of parrotfish poop.

Elkhorn Coral, Abaco Bahamas (Melinda Rogers / Dive Abaco)

Other vital reef species living in the shelter of elkhorn and other corals are the CLEANERS, little fish and shrimps that cater for the wellbeing and grooming of large and even predatory fishes. Gobies, wrasse, Pedersen shrimps and many others pick dead skin and parasites from the ‘client’ fish including their gills, and even from between the teeth of predators. This service is an excellent example of MUTUALISM, a symbiotic relationship in which both parties benefit: close grooming in return for rich pickings of food.

Elkhorn Coral, Abaco Bahamas (Melinda Rogers / Dive Abaco)

VULNERABILITY TO OFFICIALLY NON-EXISTENT CLIMATE CRISIS

Formally abundant, over just a couple of decades elkhorn coral has been massively affected by [climate change, human activity and habitat destruction] inexplicable natural attrition in many areas. One cause of decline that is incontrovertible is damage from storms, which are empirically increasing in both frequency and intensity, though apparently for no known reason.

Elkhorn Coral, Abaco Bahamas (Melinda Rogers / Dive Abaco)

Physical damage to corals may seriously impact on reproductive success; elkhorn coral is no exception. The effects of a reduction of reef fertility are compounded by the fact that natural recovery is in any case inevitably a slow process. The worse the problem gets, the harder it becomes even to survive let alone recover. 

Elkhorn Coral, Abaco Bahamas (Melinda Rogers / Dive Abaco)

SO HOW DOES ELKHORN CORAL REPRODUCE?

There are two types of reproduction, which one might call asexual and sexual:

  1. Elkhorn coral reproduction occurs when a branch breaks off and attaches to the substrate, forming a the start of a new colony. This process is known as fragmentation and accounts for roughly half of coral spread. Considerable success is being achieved now with many coral species by in effect farming fragments and cloning colonies (see above, Reef Rescue Network’s coral nurseries)
  2. Sexual reproduction occurs once a year in August or September, when coral colonies release millions of gametes by broadcast spawning (there’s much more to be said on this interesting topic, and one day I will)

Elkhorn Coral, Abaco Bahamas (Melinda Rogers / Dive Abaco)

THE FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHS

You may have wondered in which healthily coral-infested waters these superb elkhorn coral photographs were taken. Did I perhaps source them from a National Geographic coral reef special edition? In fact, every image featured was obtained among the reefs of Abaco.

All except the recent Perry Institute / Friends of the Environment photo were taken by Melinda Rogers of Dive Abaco, Marsh Harbour. The long-established and highly regarded Dive Shop she and her husband Keith run was obliterated (see above) less than 3 months ago by Hurricane Dorian, along with most of the rest of the town. It’s a pleasure to be able to showcase these images taken in sunnier times.

Elkhorn Coral, Abaco Bahamas (Melinda Rogers / Dive Abaco)

ABACO BAHAMAS POST-DORIAN: HOPE & THE ICONIC PARROTS


Abaco (Cuban) Parrot, Bahamas (Craig Nash)

ABACO BAHAMAS POST-DORIAN: HOPE & THE ICONIC PARROTS

As the intensive Hurricane Dorian relief operation continues on a devastated Abaco, the extent of the destructive power of the huge storm is all too evident. Gradually restored communications and the availability of social media have circulated far and wide the awful photos and aerial views of the smashed island, and the tragic stories of loss and desolation. Accounts of astonishing courage, determination and generosity are for all to see. And, nearly 4 weeks later, we have early signs of recovery and grounds for hope in a stricken land.

Abaco (Cuban) Parrot, Bahamas (Caroline Stahala Walker)

For the last 10 days or so, inquiries about Abaco’s birds and other wildlife have begun and are increasing daily. I take this as a sign that people are at last able to look slightly beyond the immediate horrors of the storm to the brighter horizon of the future. The iconic parrots are the principle concern, and finally – finally – I have some good news to bring. Here it is, in all its glory.

Abaco (Cuban) Parrot, Bahamas post hurricane Dorian (Tara Lavallee)

I have been waiting anxiously to pick up the first reports of parrot sightings – or even of their raucous squawks. This iPhone photo was taken yesterday at Bahama Palm Shores by Tara Lavallee. You are looking at the first photograph of the parrots since the end of last month. This pair were apparently wary and jumpy – quite unlike the unselfconscious rowdy birds with which we are so familiar. There was a sighting near Casuarina, too. It looks as though the parrots are returning.

Abaco (Cuban) Parrot, Bahamas (Caroline Stahala Walker)

WHERE HAVE THE PARROTS BEEN IN THE MEANTIME?

The parrots live and breed in the Abaco National Park right down in the south of the island. This is a vast area of pine forest that gives way to scrubland as it nears the coast. The assumption is that the approaching storm will have driven the parrots deep into the forest where, happily, they will have been some distance away from the destructive path of the hurricane. Many creatures can sense the approach of bad weather from changes in the air around them. This may trigger an instinct to head for home some time before the threat arrives. 

ONCE THEY GET THERE, WHAT DO THEY DO?

They lie low. The parrots have an additional and most unusual way to stay safe. They can avoid the dangers of adverse weather and even forest fires because they live and nest underground in limestone caves deep in the National Park.

Abaco (Cuban) Parrot, Bahamas (Caroline Stahala Walker)

HOW RARE IS THAT?

The Abaco parrot (as opposed to its tree-nesting cousins in Inagua and in small numbers in Nassau) is unique in this respect, certainly in the northern hemisphere. There are half-a-dozen mostly inter-related species in the Antipodes that nest underground, but that is all. Even if the caves get flooded, limestone is a permeable rock and water will dissipate. And as for fires, the holes are deep enough for the flames to pass over them. Tree-dwellers are far more vulnerable.

Abaco (Cuban) Parrot, Bahamas (Caroline Stahala Walker)

DOES THIS MEAN THE PARROTS ARE ALL SAFE?

It’s much too early to judge, because there is another vital component in their survival: the availability and sufficiency of suitable food. This is the factor that most worries those concerned with the parrots’ welfare – the BNT, the scientists and naturalists who helped to bring the species back from the edge of extinction, and organisations further afield such as Birds Caribbean. So it’s a question now of where they will find to feed; and beyond that, how they respond if they find their usual feeding haunts trashed. 

Feeding on Gumbo Limbo berries, a favourite snackAbaco (Cuban) Parrot, Bahamas (Gerlinde Taurer)

SIGHTING REPORTS

The signs are that the parrots are now emerging and looking for food. With luck their presence will become more noticeable. This is an important moment for collecting stats. They will help research into the effect of Dorian on the population including the wellbeing of the birds, their flocking behaviour, and the locations they now find to their liking. The fact that parrots have been seen at BPS, the parrot hotspot, is encouraging. 

Abaco (Cuban) Parrot, Bahamas (from a photo by Craig Nash))

If anyone sees or even hears parrots over the next couple of weeks I’d welcome a report either directly or indirectly. The most helpful details are date, time, location and approx numbers (1, pair, a few, lots). Beyond that, behaviour notes are of interest – feeding, chattering, hanging round, being unsettled and so on. A photo is always a bonus, even a phone one. 

Parrot Crossing sign Abaco Bahamas (Keith Salvesen)

Do not doubt the resilience of these beautiful birds. Now that the threat of extinction has been removed through skilled  conservation, management and predator control, they will win through. If you doubt it, just look at this image below. It shows a nest in the immediate aftermath of hurricane Irene, with its occupant safe and sound as the parents forage for food and parrot scientist Caroline nips in with her camera.

Abaco (Cuban) Parrot, Bahamas (Caroline Stahala Walker)

Credits: Craig Nash (1, 9); Caroline Stahala Walker (2, 4, 6, 7, 11); Tara Lavallee (3); Keith Salvesen (5, 10); Gerlinde Taurer (8); Melissa Maura (12)

Abaco (Cuban) Parrot, Bahamas (Melissa Maura)

LIGHT SIDE OF THE MOON: FOR ABACO & THE FUTURE


Light Side of the Moon - Rolling Harbour Abaco

Design based on an amazing photo taken a couple of months ago by Abaco resident Brian Lockwood

HURRICANE DORIAN ABACO RELIEF: DONATIONS, RESOURCES, INFO, RADIO, & LINKS


HURRICANE DORIAN ABACO RELIEF: DONATIONS, RESOURCES, INFO, RADIO, & LINKS

SEP 6 UPDATE Since my original post focussing mainly on the rapidly increasing numbers of donation sites and their links, the true extent of the Hurricane Dorian catastrophe on central Abaco and outlying cays is gradually becoming clearer. Reports of localised looting are coming in. The situation is truly desperate and no one reading this will be unaware of the unfolding tragedy. Our thoughts must be with the bereaved and the injured; the missing; their families and friends; the frightened evacuees; those that have lost their homes, possessions, livelihoods; the courageous local people and relief teams.

This is a time when information is valuable, in particular as to the resources available, the urgent needs of the island and its cays, and the ways in which outsiders can help with this dire situation and with funding the recovery. Here are a few suggestions that I hope will be useful, and which will be further updated as the need arises.

LOCAL INFORMATION RESOURCES

The main resources are local / community Facebook groups, or more general Abaco-wide groups. All of them contain local reports and updates, photos, videos and requests for news of family, friends & communities. Events and news are fast-moving, so if you find a group you like, keep checking for up-to-date news, requests for advice or help etc. Simply entering a settlement name in FB search may take you direct to a community group.

ABACO COMMUNITY UPDATE

ABACO BULLETIN GROUP

ABACO BAHAMAS – LIVING ON ISLAND TIME

HOPE TOWN BULLETIN

LITTLE HOUSE BY THE FERRY Amanda Diedrick’s oustanding blog has a wealth of info & advice

THE ABACONIAN  Website

THE ABACONIAN – FB page

TRIBUNE242 – Website (also links to FB, T etc)

Radio link selection given below

I’ll review and edit this page daily. I’ll look out for additional fundraisers, but please contact me with any others that you would like to see included, giving the link to it. You can do this by commenting here; via DM on my Rolling Harbour FB page; or email for those that have it.

ROLLING HARBOUR ABACO

NB I am not making personal recommendations here, except in the case of the Delphi Relief Fund and Caroline’s parrot fundraiser, where I have personal connections and concerns. Please check these pages for yourself before you decide to donate

SEP 6 CLICK LOGO FOR CAUTION NEEDED WHEN YOU CHOOSE YOUR DONATION FUND

RELIEF DONATION SITES

HEADKNOWLES An organization formed in 2015 by Bahamians Lia Head-Rigby and Gina Knowles to provide hurricane relief to the residents of the south and central Bahamas after the devastation of Hurricane Joaquin. Since then, Headknowles provided relief after Hurricanes Matthew and Irma.

You can find out more about the invaluable work of this organization via this link to Amanda Diedrick’s website LITTLE HOUSE BY THE FERRY You will also find there regularly updated information about the present crisis.

DONATIONS                HeadKnowles GO FUND ME page

UPDATES & INFO        Facebook group page

Bahamas Red CrossThe Bahamas branch of the International Red Cross is requesting help with its Dorian-relief program. Specifically, it’s looking for donations of nonperishable goods, water, toiletries, baby products, radios, batteries, candles, bedding, generators, and building supplies (NT)

DONATIONS               BAHAMAS RED CROSS

DONATIONS             ONE ELEUTHERA FOUNDATION

DONATIONS                PERC, Inc.

PERC, Inc. is a not-for-profit U.S. corporation created in 1998 to support the philanthropic work of charitable and community organizations in Abaco, Bahamas (specifically, Hope Town, Man O’ War and Marsh Harbour), and to enable U.S. tax payers make tax deductible contributions to their preferred Abaco charities.

RELIEF NEEDS

LAZY LOCATIONS Excellent list of Hurricane Dorian Relief Efforts including supplies-provision and similar aid in the Abacos, some of which are not yet listed below 

COLDWELL BANKER / LIGHTBOURNE on F/B: Helpful advice, donation links and relief needs (see end of post for list). Their main office on NP is open to accept donations of supplies. For US donors, here are 6 drop-off centres in the States

COMMUNITY& INDIVIDUAL FUNDRAISERS

(GoFundMe unless otherwise stated – PLEASE CHECK VALIDATION)

THE ABACO CLUB ON WINDING BAY

NEW YORK TIMES BAHAMAS RELIEF ADVICE / LINKS

==============================

THE DELPHI CLUB ABACO RELIEF FUND Fundraiser by Robert Ford & Club Members (& my own connection)

HURRICANE RELIEF FOR ELBOW CAY Fundraiser by Matt Winslow.

Please note that this fund, now exceeding $400K of a (raised) target of $500K will have a $ for $ fund match from a private foundation

HOPE TOWN VOLUNTEER FIRE & RESCUE HURRICANE RELIEF  Local Paypal funding

NB  Sep 6 NEW LINK

MESSAGE READS “response to our fundraising efforts has been overwhelming – literally! Your generosity has overtaxed our PayPal account and we are working to find more effective and efficient ways to collect donations. Please hold off on donations through PayPal at this time. We will be providing new funding mechanisms in the next few days. Thank you all for your generosity!!’

Errol Thurston Bahamas Abaco Hurricane Relief Fund  Fundraiser by Errol Thurston 

HOPE 4 HOPE TOWN – ABACO ISLANDS RELIEF FUND Fundraiser by Patrick Davis 

Abaco Strong Hurricane Relief Fund  Fundraiser by Dave Meldeau 

Abaco Parrot post Dorian Food Supplementation Fundraiser by Caroline Stahala 

For the Love of Abaco – Hurricane Relief Fundraiser by Lou Lentine 

Hurricane Dorian Relief Fund for Abaco Fundraiser by Al Lee

Dorian Relief Effort – Bahamas Abaco Islands TCCF Fundraiser by Omar Maissen 

Hurricane Dorian Relief Fund Abacos Fundraiser by Heidi Marie Hill 

MAINSTREAM INTERNATIONAL NGOs

DIRECT RELIEF  Hurricane Dorian Relief

SEP 5: “Luíz David Rodriguez, the programme manager for Direct Relief, an NGO, said the island’s main health clinic, near Marsh Harbour, was being overwhelmed with hundreds of people waiting to be treated”

 GlobalGiving Disaster Recovery Network Hurricane Dorian Relief Fund

RADIO GARDEN – highly recommended for online or as App – a simple world-wide resource. The link is set take you direct to Guardian Talk Radio. You’ll see other Bahamas stations listed. Every green dot represents a radio station. The globe rotates. You can pinpoint a chosen station anywhere in the world in seconds

ZNS BAHAMAS – varied news formats with rolling updates

ZNS RADIO – news and plenty of online links

TUNE IN BAHAMAS – Stream Radio – more than a dozen stations – App available

LIVE ONLINE BAHAMASStream Radio  – Lots of stations – can headline favourites

CAUTION FOR DONORS

  • Be on guard for a surge of solicitations related to any highly publicized crisis. There will be fraudulent charity solicitations, some involving websites and email links attempting to steal your credit card information for identity theft or insert malware on your computer.
  • Unknown Senders. Do not respond to, or click on any attachments, links or pictures included in, emails or text messages received from unknown senders.
  • Fake Victims. Social media will include many fake victims. Do not donate to unknown individuals purporting to need aid that post on Facebook, GoFundMe, etc. They may be fraudsters, and even if legitimate victims, they may receive an unfairly large amount of aid.
  • Scamming. Scammers may try to use copy-cat names similar to those of well-known charities. Avoid name confusion by independently verifying that the charity is legitimate before you donate. Reputable charities will not pressure you to give immediately.
  • Third-party ‘enablers’. Beware of individuals or others claiming to be third party intermediaries for charities or those in need.
  • Give directly only to the charities that you are confident are legitimate and recognized for providing humanitarian relief on a specific local and / or at international level

CREDITS

Amanda Diedrick / Little House by the Ferry for taking a big lead in collecting and spreading information and advice including the HeadKnowles information shown here

Matthew McCoy for additional suggestions

Sundry online posters of clips and snips

PHOTO CREDIT: Gerlinde Taurer – Bahama Yellowthroat (endemic to the Bahamas)

Elbow Reef Lighthouse still standing where Hurricane Dorian made landfall (NYT)

HURRICANE DORIAN: RELIEF CONTACTS & LINKS FOR ABACO BAHAMAS


American Flamingo ©Melissa Groo (with kind permission)

HURRICANE DORIAN: RELIEF CONTACTS & LINKS FOR ABACO BAHAMAS

The massive extent of the devastation caused by the unprecedented violence of Hurricane Dorian to the northern Bahamas is, after 2 days, still being revealed only gradually. Overall, the cruel effects of the storm could hardly be any worse. There’s no need to chronicle the horrendous details of the crisis in terms of the people, communities, property, infrastructure, fauna, flora and even geology. Right now, bad news accumulates by the hour. Many people are still unaccounted for. Information about some of the communities is scant.

This is a time when information is valuable, in particular as to the resources available, the urgent needs of the island and its cays, and the ways in which outsiders can help with this dire situation and with funding the recovery. Here are a few suggestions that I hope will be useful. 

LOCAL INFORMATION RESOURCES

The main resources are local / community Facebook groups, or more general Abaco-wide groups. All of them contain local reports and updates, photos, videos and requests for news of family, friends & communities. Events and news are fast-moving, so if you find a group you like, keep checking for up-to-date news, requests for advice or help etc

ABACO COMMUNITY UPDATE

ABACO BULLETIN GROUP

ABACO BAHAMAS – LIVING ON ISLAND TIME

(to be expanded)

I will be reviewing and editing this page daily. I’ll look out for additional fundraisers, but please contact me with any others that you would like to see included, giving the link to it. You can do this by commenting here; via DM on my Rolling Harbour FB page; or email for those that have it.

ROLLING HARBOUR ABACO

NB I am not making personal recommendations here, except in the case of the Delphi Relief Fund and Caroline’s parrot fundraiser, where I have personal connections and concerns. Please check these pages for yourself before you decide to donate

RELIEF DONATION SITES

HEADKNOWLES An organization formed in 2015 by Bahamians Lia Head-Rigby and Gina Knowles to provide hurricane relief to the residents of the south and central Bahamas after the devastation of Hurricane Joaquin. Since then, Headknowles provided relief after Hurricanes Matthew and Irma.

You can find out more about the invaluable work of this organization via this link to Amanda Diedrick’s website LITTLE HOUSE BY THE FERRY You will also find there regularly updated information about the present crisis.

DONATIONS               HeadKnowles GO FUND ME page

UPDATES & INFO        Facebook group page

Bahamas Red CrossThe Bahamas branch of the International Red Cross is requesting help with its Dorian-relief program. Specifically, it’s looking for donations of nonperishable goods, water, toiletries, baby products, radios, batteries, candles, bedding, generators, and building supplies (NT)

DONATIONS               BAHAMAS RED CROSS

DONATIONS               PERC, Inc.

PERC, Inc. is a not-for-profit U.S. corporation created in 1998 to support the philanthropic work of charitable and community organizations in Abaco, Bahamas (specifically, Hope Town, Man O’ War and Marsh Harbour), and to enable U.S. tax payers make tax deductible contributions to their preferred Abaco charities.

RELIEF NEEDS

LAZY LOCATIONS  Excellent list of Hurricane Dorian Relief Efforts including supplies-provision and similar aid in the Abacos, some of which are not yet listed below 

COMMUNITY& INDIVIDUAL FUNDRAISERS

(GoFundMe unless otherwise stated – PLEASE CHECK VALIDATION)

THE DELPHI CLUB ABACO RELIEF FUND Fundraiser by Robert Ford & Club Members (& my own connection)

HURRICANE RELIEF FOR ELBOW CAY Fundraiser by Matt Winslow 

HOPE TOWN VOLUNTEER FIRE & RESCUE HURRICANE RELIEF  Local Paypal funding

Errol Thurston Bahamas Abaco Hurricane Relief Fund  Fundraiser by Errol Thurston 

HOPE 4 HOPE TOWN – ABACO ISLANDS RELIEF FUND Fundraiser by Patrick Davis 

Abaco Strong Hurricane Relief Fund  Fundraiser by Dave Meldeau 

Abaco Parrot post Dorian Food Supplementation Fundraiser by Caroline Stahala 

For the Love of Abaco – Hurricane Relief Fundraiser by Lou Lentine 

Hurricane Dorian Relief Fund for Abaco Fundraiser by Al Lee

Dorian Relief Effort – Bahamas Abaco Islands TCCF Fundraiser by Omar Maissen 

Hurricane Dorian Relief Fund Abacos Fundraiser by Heidi Marie Hill 

OTHER WAYS TO GIVE

NB I know nothing specific about these more widely-based organisations – it’s up to you to check them out

 GlobalGiving’s Disaster Recovery Network Hurricane Dorian Relief Fund

DIRECT RELIEF  Hurricane Dorian Relief

CREDITS

Amanda Diedrick / Little House by the Ferry for taking a big lead in collecting and spreading information and advice including the HeadKnowles information shown here

Matthew McCoy for additional suggestions

PHOTO CREDIT  Melissa Groo, International Photographer with Bahamas ties. Thanks as always for use permission

THE SYMBOL OF A RESILIENT BAHAMAS: BAHAMA PARROTS


ABACO (BAHAMA) PARROT for Hurricane Dorian (Keith Salvesen / Rolling Harbour)

THE SYMBOL OF A RESILIENT BAHAMAS

 THE BAHAMA PARROT

Hurricane Dorian makes landfall on Abaco later today. The island has been in an unwavering direct line for several days, gaining force to Cat. 4** while slowing down as it approaches. The skies have darkened, the seas are turbulent, danger to humans, wildlife, property, landscape is imminent.

** UPDATE just before landfall today, Dorian strengthened to a rare and very dangerous Cat. 5 hurricane. This is when not just property and land is threatened, but life itself. Early reports are of flooding and structural damage. Now is not the moment to pick through the information filtering through. Better to assess the impact after the storm has passed on to the north-west, where it is currently headed via Grand Bahama.

When we first became involved with Abaco, the parrot numbers were believed to be fewer than 1000, a barely sustainable population. An intensive, continuing conservation program over several years has seen the numbers treble or more. This recovery is as much due to the resilience of the species as to human intervention. 

The parrots will be lying low in the National Park, some in the limestone caves they nest in during the breeding season. As humans take equivalent protective measures we are watching from a thankfully safe distance. We wish the very best of luck to our friends, and to all on the island and its cays during the next 48 hours.

Abaco Parrots in limestone cave, breeding season (Caroline Stahala)

HURRICANE DORIAN, ABACO BAHAMAS: STAY STRONG, STAY SAFE


Bahama / Abaco Parrot Pair (Melissa Maura)

HURRICANE DORIAN, ABACO BAHAMAS: STAY STRONG, STAY SAFE

As Hurricane Dorian sweeps directly and inexorably towards Abaco this weekend, from my safe distance of 4000 miles I wish all the very best to my friends, and to all the people and the precious island they inhabit. 

Bahama / Abaco Parrot Pair (Melissa Maura)

Credits: Melissa Maura for her wonderful parrot photos; NASA / GOES

TROPICAL STORM: THE PICTURE OF DORIAN? GRAY…


Tropical Storm Dorian . Aug 27 . Cloud formation. Aerial view. NOAA NHC NASA

TROPICAL STORM: THE PICTURE OF DORIAN? GRAY…

+ TROPICAL DEPRESSION SIX – SPACE VIEW AND LIGHT POLLUTION

TS Dorian is the 4th tropical storm of the Atlantic season, and the first one to have the northern Bahamas & Abaco in its sights. Right now it is way down south in the area round Barbados, heading for Puerto Rico. I just checked out the NOAA, NHC, NWC & NASA sites to find out the present predictions. Although the direction and force of the storm may be changeable as it moves north, it’s as well to know the currently predicted path. As of this morning, Abaco is directly in it. And TD Six is lurking to the north-west as well.

WIND SPEED

PROGRESS / ETA

Subject to the usual variables, this coming weekend looks potentially the time for some kind of murky weather over Abaco. Maybe it won’t happen like that, but this looks like one to keep a weather eye on.

   STORM CONE

Tropical depression Six, described as ‘poorly organised’, is already making its present felt. This dramatic image of ‘6’ from NOAA has a strange beauty, and interesting not least because of its startling highlighting of light pollution (and check out Freeport and Nassau).

TD SIX LAST NIGHT

TD SIX – VIEW FROM SPACE

CREDITS: the combined resources of NOAA, NHC, NWS & NASA & associates

TS Dorian Path Prediction

HURRICANE MARIA: TRACKING UPDATE for SEP 20th (Abaco, Bahamas)


HURRICANE MARIA: TRACKING UPDATE SEP 20th

Abaco, Bahamas

Hurricane Maria is currently passing over Puerto Rico as a Cat 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. The big question for those to the north-west in general and (for this blog) Abaco in particular is, has the storm’s swerve to the east continued? And it’s now clear that the tendency has indeed been maintained. This means that today, more of the Bahamas Islands are now free for now from the cone of the predicted path. Here are the latest trackers for 11.00 am EDT today.

CURRENT POSITION

PREDICTED PATH

For the Abacos, the situation continues to improve for the moment at least. It’s certainly way too soon to be sure, but right now the outlook is good. And of course, Abaco may still experience a buffeting as the storm gradually progresses to the east. 

LOOKING FORWARD

Here is an estimate – and only that – of the position of Maria in relation to Abaco on Saturday Sep 23 at noon, if the current course holds. It will be a close shave, for sure.

Credits: NOAAW / GOES; GOES East; NASA; Wunderground; Accuweather; NOAA / NHC; Windy.com STAY SAFE

HURRICANE MARIA: TRACKING UPDATE SEP 19th (Abaco, Bahamas)


HURRICANE MARIA: TRACKING UPDATE SEP 19th

Abaco, Bahamas

In the life of a massive Cat. 5 hurricane, a lot can happen over 24 hours. One source reports ‘mind-boggling devastation’ on Dominica. Other islands on the storm’s path are braced for their own tragedies for their populations, many still reeling from the passage of Irma just 2 weeks ago. Here are the latest trackers for 11.00 am EDT today; and a calculated prediction for the position on Friday midnight.

CURRENT POSITION

PREDICTED PATH

The first thing to note is that (after a slight drop in wind speed) the storm has now intensified to become Cat. 5. In due course wind speeds are expected to reduce gradually, as shown, but of course it won’t necessarily turn out that way.

For the Abacos, however, the situation is notably better that this time yesterday, when the islands were squarely with the cone (though not right at the centre). However the distinct tendency of Maria to hook right / east that was evident yesterday has increased to the extent that Abaco – and indeed the northern Bahamas – is no longer within the cone. Much the same happened with Irma. Both sources below show a similar prediction. Again, it won’t necessarily turn out that way, but there’s at least some encouragement for a better outlook. And of course, this does not mean that Abaco won’t get some heavy weather as Maria moves on…

LOOKING AHEAD

I’ve used a realtime tracker and moved it forward along its timeline to midnight on Friday. I’ve centred the prediction on South Abaco (white circles). There’s plenty of scope for the course to alter in the meantime, but the model suggests the main storm will progress mainly to the east of the Bahamas – and if the veer continues, then the more so for the northern islands. But remember – the predictions are just that and no more…

Credits: NOAAW / GOES; GOES East; NASA; Wunderground; NOAA / NHC; Windy.com STAY SAFE

HURRICANE MARIA 2017: TRACKING THE NEW THREAT


HURRICANE MARIA 2017: TRACKING THE NEW THREAT

‘A PROBLEM LIKE MARIA’ feat. ‘DROP OFF THE QUAY, LEE’

It never rains, but it pours. Sometimes doubly so. Just as those so cruelly affected by Irma are beginning to deal with the trail of terrible damage and destruction of the huge hurricane, so another storm, Maria, approaches along a similar path. This has now been upgraded from a tropical storm to a Cat. 1 hurricane, and is expected to continue to pick up intensity.

The trackers below were all updated early this morning. The good news is that Lee is forecast to break up and dissipate. So at the moment, that threat can probably be discounted. Maria, on the other hand, is one to watch with eagle eyes: already on course to reach the Leeward Islands today, then expected to intensify and probably reach the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as a Cat 3 or 4 hurricane by Wednesday. After that, the storm looks set to pass Hispaniola and may hit the Turks and Caicos by Friday unless there’s a more significant hook to the right along the way. Beyond that, the Bahamas…

You may wonder why I put in 3 or 4 trackers of the many that are out there. It’s because they each present the information in a slightly different way. Some are easy to interpret; some are overloaded with info or otherwise confusing; some seem to me to be less accurate. The ones here are the ones I have used and found useful (= clear and reliable) since 2011, Hurricane Irene…

OPTIONAL MUSICAL DIGRESSION

I initially decided to omit my usual OMD, often added when a relevant song gets name-checked hereabouts. Then I rethought it. I’m not meaning to be frivolous nor to downplay the seriousness of extreme weather events on all those so badly affected.  But on the other hand, there are a few things that can lighten the spirit, albeit briefly. A really well put together song with clever lyrics is one such. Get rid of the squall, Paul; Drop off the quay, Lee; Just sing ‘see ya, Maria’; 

Credits: NOAAW / RAMMB / GOES; GOES East; Wunderground; NOAA / NHC; Paul Simon

AFTER THE STORM: ALL THINGS BRIGHT & BEAUTIFUL


Abaco (Cuban) Parrot (Melissa Maura)

ABACO PARROT

AFTER THE STORM: ALL THINGS BRIGHT & BEAUTIFUL

For tens of thousands of people, the past 2 weeks have been dominated by one cruelly aggressive female: Irma. In terms of a lucky escape, Abaco’s gain was elsewhere’s pain. Recently, only the vivid Wunderground trackers I have posted have stood out from the bleakness of the ominous clouds, pounding waves, and sluicing rain. With the prospects for Hurricane Jose wandering around in the mid-Atlantic looking increasingly good, it’s time for a look at something more cheerful.

Birds can lighten the spirit. As yet, I’ve seen few reports of how the birds on Abaco have fared, but the ones I have seen have been encouraging. A west-indian woodpecker back on his usual tree; a piping plover foraging on the beach at Winding Bay, even as the storm raged; bird business more or less as usual at Delphi. No news yet of Abaco’s iconic parrots, which will have most likely headed to the National Park for cover. They usually manage OK. The header image is a tip of the hat to them, their raucous beauty, and their healthy recovery from near-extinction over the last few years.

Here’s a small gallery of some of Abaco’s most colourful and striking birds for some light relief. Have a nice day!

Painted Bunting, Abaco, Bahamas - Tom SheleyBananaquit, Abaco, Bahamas - Keith SalvesenWestern Spindalis, Abaco, Bahamas - Craig NashWhite-cheeked (Bahama) Pintail, Abaco, Bahamas - Keith SalvesenCuban Emerald Hummingbird, Abaco, Bahamas - Keith SalvesenBahama Woodstar, Abaco, Bahamas - Tom SheleyBlack-necked Stilt, Abaco, Bahamas - Tom SheleyCuban Pewee, Abaco, Bahamas - Keith SalvesenOsprey, Abaco, Bahamas - Tom SheleyBahama Yellowthroat, Abaco, Bahamas - Gerlinde Taurer

Photo Credits: Abaco (Cuban) Parrot, Melissa Maura; Painted Bunting, Tom Sheley; Bananaquit, Keith Salvesen; Western Spindalis, Craig Nash; White-cheeked (Bahama) Pintail, Keith Salvesen; Cuban Emerald (f), Keith Salvesen; Bahama Woodstar, Tom Sheley; Black-necked Stilt, Tom Sheley; Cuban Pewee, Keith Salvesen; Osprey, Tom Sheley; Bahama Yellowthroat, Gerlinde Taurer. Storm tracker, Wunderground

HURRICANE IRMA AFTERMATH: ABACO’S SIDESWIPE(S)


Hurricane Irma, Abaco

HURRICANE IRMA HITS CHEROKEE, ABACO, BAHAMAS

HURRICANE IRMA AFTERMATH: ABACO’S SIDESWIPE(S)

Hurricane Irma barrels on northwards as Florida begins to count the cost.  Abaco has had its turn to experience the awesome power of this brute of a storm. Or make that turns (plural) because such a massive storm 400 miles across, spiralling longs strands of filthy weather outwards with centrifugal menace, can strike more than once as the main storm passes further off.

Hurricane Irma, Abaco

Thanks to the relatively late shift of the storm’s path to the west, there was no direct hit on Abaco (as was once forecast). High winds and heavy seas, but none of the cruel devastation elsewhere that we have all been watching and reading about with horror and sympathy for the victims.

Seaweed covering the beach at Casuarina, AbacoHurricane Irma, Abaco

By Saturday evening, relieved messages were already being posted. Later, an official statement confirmed limited harm and damage. The airport was reopened. Albury’s Ferries announced the forthcoming resumption of services. Gradually, the overall picture took shape as more reports and messages came in from the mainland and the cays.

Tahiti Beach, Elbow Cay, Abaco

At Delphi, Jason confirmed that the worst of the storm passed quite quickly and that there was no structural damage, though doubtless the gardens have taken a beating – a minuscule inconvenience comparatively.

Hurricane Irma, Abaco    Hurricane Irma, AbacoHurricane Irma, Abaco

By yesterday morning, the only area I hadn’t seen anything about was the west side of Abaco – Sandy Point. Might things have been different -perhaps worse –  on the west coast? Then I heard from BMMRO HQ that the situation was much as elsewhere. The whales and dolphins of the Bahamas will continue be researched when the boat can put out to sea…

Atlantic Spotted Dolphins seen off Abaco before Irma came alongAtlantic Spotted Dolphins, Abaco, Bahamas (BMMRO)

Like the aftershocks of an earthquake, bouts of high winds and huge gusts have continued to pass over; and in places the sea has been sucked out from the beaches. There have been outages of course (not a novel experience even in calm times); and I’ve seen reports of interruption with water supplies. But I think it can be said that Abaco has escaped quite lightly – and certainly in comparison with the terrible devastation elsewhere.

Roof tiles have been lost, but there seems to have been limited structural damage. Trees have been trashed of course, and there has been plenty of beach erosion. Many beaches have been smothered in seaweed. But all-in-all, Abaco has fared alright, which is not to say that people’s thoughts have been absent from those who have taken the hit and borne the brunt of Irma’s rage.

Bahama Palm Shores, Abaco

The Low Place, Man-o-War Cay

WHAT ABOUT HURRICANE JOSE?

The tracking for this pursuer of Irma has appeared to show the storm going round in circles in mid-Atlantic. Until quite recently. This morning’s prediction shows a determined move to the west towards the end of the week. One to keep a very close eye on still.

WHAT ARE THE VIEWS FROM SPACE RIGHT NOW?

NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite: night-time view of Irma over Florida

NASA / GOES East satellite: daytime view of the storm moving north over Florida

Credits: Karen Eldon (1); Olivia Patterson Maura (2, 9, 10); Andrea Janeen Sands Albury (3); Abaco Buzz (4); Jason Prangnall (5, 6); Dive Abaco (7); BMMRO (8); Beth Nace (11, 12, 13); Charmaine Albury (14); Wunderground for the Jose Tracker; NASA / NOAA / GOES for the space shots 

HURRICANE IRMA UPDATE (2): ABACO, BAHAMAS 9/9


Hurricane Irma NASA

HURRICANE IRMA UPDATE (2): ABACO, BAHAMAS 9/9

It’s Saturday afternoon. Irma has (surprisingly?) weakened from Cat 5 overnight to Cat 3 right now – but is expected to regain Cat 4 strength as the core of the storm reaches the tip of Florida. The hurricane has now cleared the north coast of Cuba and is heading for Florida, where the first effects of this massive storm are already being felt.

For Abaco, the situation is better than feared and expected at one stage. I’ve seen several reports from the main island, including a video from Jason who is holding the fort at Delphi. He’s also sent a video sweep of Rolling Harbour taken from the verandah of the club a couple of hours ago.

 

Here are a couple of photos from Olivia Patterson Maura taken from her stretch of beach, taken earlier today. It hasn’t taken long for the sea to build up from rough to scary.

Below are some trackers and screenshots, mostly issued at 11.00 am today. The top one segues into a path prediction. I think it’s now certain that for Abaco, at least, the hurricane will be more of a violent sideswipe than a critical event. Not so elsewhere, for sure.

WHAT NEWS OF JOSÉ AND KATIA?

It looks as though JOSÉ will continue north-west, with an increasing hook to the east over open water. A complete change of course obviously remains a possibility, but for the moment it retains the status of ‘one to watch’. KATIA has dissipated, and although there are remnants of the storm

Credits: NASA (1, 5, 7);  live tracker screenshot NotableMedia (2);Olivia Patterson Maura (3, 4); Wunderground (6); NOAA (8); Video Jason Pragnall. Stay safe.

HURRICANE IRMA TRACKING UPDATE: ABACO, BAHAMAS 9/9


HURRICANE IRMA TRACKING UPDATE: ABACO, BAHAMAS 9/9

It’s Saturday morning and Irma has strengthened to Cat 5 overnight as she barrels along the top of Cuba. I won’t waste words: you have better things to do than read blogs. Instead, here are some overnight tracking reports, each informative in its own way. Please note that these are a few hours old and already things will have progressed further (not least where Cat 4 is still shown). The amazing header image is from 9/7, and shows the awesome majesty of extreme weather seen from space…

Credits: NOAA with props to Randy Bresnik / AstroKomrade (1);  live tracker screenshot NotableMedia (2); Wundergroung (3, 4); NASA & partners (5). Stay safe

HURRICANE IRMA UPDATE & ISS VIEWS: ABACO, BAHAMAS


HURRICANE IRMA UPDATE: ABACO, BAHAMAS

It’s Friday afternoon. Irma is spinning her destructive progress through the Bahamas towards… well, right at the moment it seems to be Andros and then towards the Florida coast and northwards up the panhandle. Abaco is not currently shown in the direct firing line – but there’s no doubt that the passage of such a massive storm will mean plenty of dirty weather very soon now. 

I have just taken a screenshot (above) of the live tracker I am using. Top right is a realtime satellite view of Irma’s current position. Bottom left is the predicted position later this weekend. The fiercest part of the storm will have passed over Andros and carried on northwest, a path further west of Abaco than recently forecast. We must hope so, remembering of course that one location’s dodged bullet will inevitably be another’s bullseye.

In the tracker realtime shot above, it’s impossible to ignore the lurking menace of Hurricane Jose – recently graded Cat 4 – to the east. Here’s the latest Jose tracker I can find for today. Right now (but who knows for how long) this system looks as though it may hook north and expend its savage energy in the open ocean.

And here is the latest Irma tracker, as I write. It looks as if the storm may dissipate after it has made landfall at the southern tip of Florida, but it will clearly be very unpleasant down there I’m afraid.

There’s been some interest in the International Space Station ISS images I posted yesterday. The serenity of the view of a hurricane topside is so at odds with the ferocity of the weather beneath and the destruction being wrought on the ground. And they work on the imagination: suppose you were in that capsule, moving with eerie calmness through the sky, looking at the swirling mass of white cloud far below…?

Today’s screenshots were taken during yesterday’s ISS pass over Irma, using external cameras. The one below is the last in the sequence, an upside-down view looking rather like some pale alien spaceship hanging above a dark earth.

I’ll be watching events during the weekend. By the time I next write, the storm will have passed the Bahamas, and the assessments will have begun. From a safe distance of 4250 miles, I will be thinking of those who are already counting the cost; those currently enduring the brutality; and those still awaiting Irma’s malice.

THE EVIL EYE

Credits: all images ISS / NASA; live tracker from NotableMedia; tracker images for Jose & Irma from Wunderground

HURRICANE IRMA: THE STRANGE BEAUTY UNLEASHING CRUEL SAVAGERY


HURRICANE IRMA: THE STRANGE BEAUTY UNLEASHING CRUEL SAVAGERY

Hurricane Irma is carving her destructive path through the northern Caribbean. As the storm moves relentlessly on towards the Bahamas, speculation has already started whether Irma may be the first hurricane to be classified as a Cat 6 – or the last huge Cat 5 before the new category is introduced.

The standard SAFFIR-SIMPSON SCALE only goes up to 5. But for exceptional storms with wind speeds exceeding a suggested 180 mph (and these are increasing worldwide), it is becoming clear that re-categorisation is called for. As with luxury hotels, 5 stars has become inadequate to describe the magnitude**.

There’s nothing to be gained from showing images of the havoc and misery already caused by Irma. TV media, print media and social media are covering that base more than adequately. So instead let’s look at the other side of the hurricane as the serene white cloud mass whirls inexorably westwards – the view from the International Space Station ISS.

THE EVIL EYE

The NASA site is a treasure trove of wonderful images, many of which can be downloaded. Here are a few of these, taken over the last 48 hours. There’s an extraordinary video of an ISS pass over Irma yesterday, and I have taken a few screenshots from it for those who may not have the time right now to watch the footage.

ISS PASSES OVER HURRICANE IRMA 9/6/2017 (10 mins)

Finally, here is a link to a live tracker that I have already posted on my FB page. This amazing resource shows vital information in 3 ways: a realtime view of Irma’s current position; the future tracking over the next few days; and realtime notes. As far as I can make out, the main image modelling means that the predicted path changes seamlessly as the storm progresses. It may be the most useful tool for Abaco / Bahamas predictions right now, because you won’t need to keep checking NOAA, Wunderground, Accuweather and the rest to look at the ‘cone’ movements. Just tune in to this. If you do, I’d be interested to hear how helpful people think it is. I’m testing it too and comparing it with other sources.

**Frankly I’d be as likely to want to be in a 6-star hotel as in a Cat 6 storm. Which is to say, not at all

NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite flew over Irma at 1:54 a.m. AST Sept. 5, 2017, when it was still a Category 4 hurricane. Night-time images showed a well-defined eye with convection most of the way around it. Both the infrared and Day-Night Band both show tropospheric gravity waves. Think of them the waves generated if you dropped a rock into a pond, but in this case it is convection punching upward.
Credits: NASA/NOAA/UWM/CIMSS/William Straka III

Credits: main photos & space station footage: ISS / NASA; Live tracker from NotableMedia; collage NASA / NOAA & as credited

WORLD SHOREBIRDS DAY, PIPING PLOVERS & IRMA


Piping Plover (Danny Sauvageau)

WORLD SHOREBIRDS DAY, PIPING PLOVERS & IRMA

Sept 6 2017. World Shorebirds Day dawns, even as the huge Cat 5 Hurricane Irma makes landfall over the small islands of the eastern Caribbean. Irma’s path has been relentlessly westwards, for sure – but the path has been unnervingly variable. The tracking reports showed Abaco successively as being in line for a direct hit; then taking a sideswipe from the south; then completely clear of the cone prediction; then within the northern edge… and today, a right hook to the east suggests again that Abaco will take a hit from irma (though as a predicted Cat 4 or maybe 3).

Hurricane Irma Tracking Path Sept 6th 2017 Wunderground

Far down the list of concerns in such a situation come shorebirds. Most if not all the islands that Irma will affect have wonderful shorebirds, both permanent and migratory. On Abaco my personal preoccupation is for the tiny Piping Plovers and our citizen scientist annual 6-month WATCH. Generally, the birds manage to find some cover at the back of the beaches to hunker down until the worst is past. But generally the beach populations are rather different after the storm, as birds scatter and take cover. 

Well, except this little guy who decided to take a windy bath on the Long Dock at Cherokee during Hurricane Matthew as it passed over Abaco last October (and props to Keith Kemp for braving the elements to get this shot!)

Birds are resilient and resourceful. Humans too. But nature unleashed with full force is a terrifying prospect. From a safe distance of 4250 miles from Marsh Harbour, thoughts and best wishes from Rolling Harbour will be with all those in the path of Irma over the next few days. 

Piping plovers on the Delphi Beach, at a more peaceful timePiping Plover, Delphi, Abaco (Keith Salvesen)

Photos: Danny Sauvageau, Keith Kemp, Keith Salvesen / Rolling Harbour; Graphic by Wunderground

HURRICANE MATTHEW & THE TRUE MEANING OF “AWESOME”


hurricane-matthew-nasa

Hurricane Matthew, NASA aerial view

HURRICANE MATTHEW & THE TRUE MEANING OF “AWESOME”

As Hurricane Matthew sweeps northwards, with Abaco in its path for the hit tomorrow, it’s an opportunity to take a look at the power and might of extreme weather, and maybe to recalibrate the word ‘awesome’ from its current diluted usage. The images used all relate to the state of play in the last 24 hours.

Hurricane Matthew_satellite view (NASA)

Satellite view at 14.00 EDThurricane-matthew-satellite-clip-wunderground

The concept of ‘awe’, historically and Biblically, comprised emotions such as wonderment, astonishment, terror and dread. Biblical translations use ‘awe’ and ‘awesome’ almost exclusively to refer to God or to His Works. In many Biblical instances of people being awed, they not only experience extremes of emotion but also exhibit palpable signs of fear – shaking, cowering, falling down, prostrating themselves.

Aerial view of Hurricane Matthew from the International Space Station, October 4hurricane-matthew- aerial view (ISS/ NASA)

The perfect example of the ‘proper’ meaning of awesome can be found in Genesis: ‘He (Jacob) was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”‘ Some translations use the word ‘dreadful’ in place of ‘awesome’ for this passage – in its old meaning of ‘full of dread’, not its watered down modern meaning as in ‘dreadful headache’ or ‘dreadful nuisance’ (the same dilution that has happened to ‘terrible’).

Hurricane Matthew Tracking Path (Wunderground)

WHAT KIND OF EMOTION IS AWE?

In 1980 a man called Dr Robert Plutchik designed a ‘diagram of emotions’ in a floral wheel format. This device visualised eight basic emotions, with eight derivative emotions each composed of two basic ones. Awe is at 4.00 o’clock, showing the extreme of the Biblical meaning as a mixture of terror and amazement (think of the reaction of the shepherds while watching of their flocks, when unexpectedly interrupted by an angel…). There’s no place in the wheel for ‘awesome’ to mean ‘I really like that photo you took’. Or, ‘your soup is delicious’. Or, ‘I am so pleased to have made a plan to meet you at Pete’s Pub’.
plutchik-wheel-svg

Language is a living thing, and the hyperbolic application of powerful words to mundane emotions or objects is widespread and unsurprising. But a Cat. 4 hurricane really is awesome stricto sensu: it is both an amazing ‘extreme weather event’, and a terrifying one, as the header image and the many images of Matthew’s progress posted online amply  illustrate. The recent practice of  giving hurricanes comfortable names does nothing to dispel their power or the awe they inspire.  On present tracking, Matthew will reach Abaco some time tomorrow. From a safe distance, I wish everyone on Abaco and elsewhere in the target zone all the very best and a safe passage through the storm.

hurricane-matthew-wunderground-clip

HOW ARE HURRICANES CATEGORISED?

Credit: 'Watts Up With That" - Click image for Hurricane Irene page of this excellent weather & climate site

 FROM ASTOUNDING TO BADASS: AWESOME SYNONYMS ANCIENT & MODERN

Astounding, breathtaking, amazing, stunning, astonishing, awe-inspiring, stupendous, staggering, extraordinary, incredible, unbelievable, magnificent, wonderful, spectacular, remarkable, phenomenal, prodigious, miraculous, sublime, formidable, imposing, impressive, mind-boggling, mind-blowing, out of this world, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, amazeballs, badass

hurricane-matthew-tracking-clip-craig-setzer-jpg-copy

Credits: Nasa / Goes, NASA / ISS, Wunderground, Craig Setzer