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