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

DOUBLE DELPHI: TWICE THE CRAIC, TWICE THE KALIK


Double Delphi by Peter Mantle

DOUBLE DELPHI: TWICE THE CRAIC, TWICE THE KALIK

For some years those who know Peter Mantle have been willing him to write about his two very different Delphis: East (Co. Mayo Ireland) and West (Abaco, Bahamas). It is often said that ‘everyone has a book in them’, but most are without lively and engaging material to work with, or a talent for writing in the first place.  Peter has plenty of these assets: great stories to tell and the writing skills to bring them alive. I’m not being paid for a creepy encomium, but I’ve read ‘Double Delphi’ in its various iterations during the winding road to publication (it has been a prominent feature at Rolling Harbour Towers during production). It’s exactly what we all hoped for!

Double Delphi by Peter Mantle

I don’t want to issue ‘spoiler alerts’, and I’m not proposing to provide a cheery synopsis of Peter’s book. For all those who have loved Delphi Lodge in Ireland; for all those who have loved the Caribbean twist to the Delphi experience on Abaco; for all those who love fishing; and for all those who have admired Peter for his astonishing creation of two fabulous fishing establishments over 35 years – this book is for you. Sandy Leventon, well-known former editor of the indispensable Trout & Salmon Magazine has read the book: his views are on the back cover.

Double Delphi by Peter Mantle

Double Delphi contains plenty of incident. There are fishy tales of course; some people great and good; some perhaps less so; a gold rush; legal drama; financial drama; conflict and personality ‘mis-alignments’; and in amongst it all, hard work, success, craic and good times as Peter bestrides the Atlantic with his ambitious twin piscine projects. There seems to be a lot of whiskey along the way, too.

DELPHI LODGE IN 2011, RESTORED TO ITS FORMER GRANDEURDelphi Lodge, Co. Mayo, Ireland (Keith Salvesen)

Many readers will head straight to the index at the back of the book, looking eagerly to see if their own roles in the Delphi sagas have been recorded. They will be disappointed: there isn’t an index! But the chapter headings are promising, and include Of Lice & Men; Princes & Papers; Stars & Gripes; and Bahamian Rhapsody. And there are two sections with plenty of photographs (many historic) to enjoy – two examples shown below.

DELPHI (WEST) ON ABACO – ‘SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE’Delphi Club, Abaco, Bahamas (Keith Salvesen)

PM’S FIRST DELPHI SALMON 1986

Double Delphi is imminently to be launched, and can easily be bought right now by clicking this linkhttps://wallopbooks.com/order-form/  (there’s some more blurb there too).

A YOUTHFUL PETER CONTEMPLATES THE FUTURE

All photos: KS / Rolling Harbour except B&W x 2 from the book

BLACK-FACED GRASSQUITS: FEEDING TIME


Black-faced Grassquits: feeding time (Charles Skinner)

BLACK-FACED GRASSQUITS: FEEDING TIME…

Not a feeding frenzy exactly, but persistence pays off. However, this little bird found that dad had eventually had enough of the nurturing bit…

URGENT – feed meeeeeeeeeeBlack-faced Grassquits: feeding time (Charles Skinner)

[*THINKS* can’t reply, I’ve got my mouth full…]

The good-thing hand-over

No! You’ve had quite enough for one snack…

Feeding sequence by Charlie Skinner.

*No birds were hurt -not even their pride or dignity – in the photographing of this heavily anthropomorphised sequence…*

 

CLEANING UP IN THE BAHAMAS: PEDERSON SHRIMPS


Pederson's Cleaning Shrimp, Bahamas (Melinda Riger, GB Scuba)

CLEANING UP IN THE BAHAMAS: PEDERSON SHRIMPS 

Pederson’s Shrimps Ancylomenes pedersoni (also known locally as Peterson’s shrimps), are one of several species of cleaner shrimp found in The Bahamas and more generally in the Caribbean seas. The species was named in 1958 by a multifaceted medico-oceanologist-zoologist Fenner A. Chace. He seems to have specialised in shrimps, finding distinct and differing species and naming them (not unreasonably) after himself (chacei);or colleagues and people he knew / admired; and in one case his wife. Mr Pederson was among them.

Pederson's Cleaning Shrimp, Bahamas (Melinda Riger, GB Scuba)

This tiny transparent creature with its vivid blue / purple markings and straggling pale antennae is unmistakeable, and helpfully cannot be confused with any other locally found shrimp species. Here’s an idea of its size, compared with a human finger and a blue parrotfish.

Pederson's Cleaning Shrimp, Bahamas (Melinda Riger, GB Scuba)

WHERE DO THESE SHRIMPS LIVE?

Their preferred home is… and it’s certainly a left field choice among sea creatures… in amongst the stinging tentacles of certain sea anemones. Not only do they not get stung, but of course they are well-protected by the defensive pain that their hosts can inflict. They are usually found singly or in pairs, but sometimes a whole colony may inhabit the same anemone.

SO EXPLAIN HOW THEY DON’T GET STUNG

Ok. The shrimps gradually build up a kind of resistance by pressing their bodies and antennae against the tentacles of the host anemone for increasing lengths of time, until they become immune. It’s like one of those kids’ electric buzzer / rheostat machines. Or a TENS machine (for those who know about backache).

 IS THERE A DOWNSIDE TO ALL THIS?

Yes indeed. If a shrimp moves away from its host for a few days, it has to start the process of immunisation all over again. So presumably they tend to stay home-lovin’.

Home sweet home for the Pederson shrimpsPederson's Cleaning Shrimp, Bahamas (Melinda Riger, GB Scuba)

SOMETHING ABOUT THE CLEANING, PLEASE

These shrimps offer ‘cleaning services’ to passing fish. When on duty, as it were, they wave their antennae vigorously to attract attention. A fish being cleaned will remain stationary and passive while external parasites and dead skin are removed. Many fish will open their mouths and gill covers for internal cleaning, with the tacit agreement that the cleaner will not become a snack. Shrimps often work in conjunction with small cleaner fish such as some species of goby and wrasse – see the links below for more on this topic, with copious images…

Pederson's Cleaning Shrimp, Bahamas (Melinda Riger, GB Scuba)

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CLEANING STATIONS

CLEANER FISH

Credits: all photos by Melinda Riger / Grand Bahama Scuba