The alarm bells were sounding all last week as Irma became one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes on record. It brought utter devastation to beautiful Caribbean paradises before setting its sights on Florida. Mass evacuations were called for and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, left their homes for what was being billed as an apocalyptic storm. While areas did get hit hard it is looking like Florida dodged a major bullet. However, because complete destruction was not unleashed and Irma hit as “only a category 3” many saw this storm as a bust and yet another weather false alarm. It was not. A difference of just 1 or 2 miles in Irma’s track probably saved Florida from the worst case scenario that was being advertised all last week. We in Houston should now know all too well that sometimes the worst case does happen, with Harvey it happened and then some.
On Friday night Irma’s eye wobbled ever so slightly to the south putting a portion of its center just barely over Cuba’s northern coast. That interaction with land disrupted its center enough to bring winds down from 180 mph to about 120 mph. If the storm hadn’t made that tiny wobble or if Cuba’s coast was a mile or two further south there would have been nothing to stop Irma from being one of the the strongest, if not the strongest, hurricane to ever hit the United States. We’re talking about a couple of miles or so for a storm that was hundreds and hundreds of miles wide. The margin between yesterday being a bad day and utterly catastrophic was razor thin. Remember that next time you hear someone complaining about how this storm was a bust or how the weathermen were wrong again.
Speaking of the media, people need to chill out. Many were harping on the reporters who were doing live shots in the middle of the storm for putting themselves in peril and glorifying a dangerous situation. What you don’t see is the built in safety precautions they have behind the camera. More often than not the reporter is standing behind some off-camera structure, like a hotel or parking garage, that is blocking the full extent of the wind and debris from hitting them. Dangers of debris aside, once winds reach category 3 strength (111 MPH and higher) it becomes difficult for anyone facing the wind head on to even take a breath, let alone deliver an understandable report. Some may consider me a bad person but I enjoy watching these live reports (from certain networks, definitely not all of them). I’m not looking to see someone’s life get blown apart on live TV, but as a weather geek seeing the raw power of these storms is fascinating to me.
Ok, I’m getting off the soapbox. Here were some of my favorite tweets from Irma.
High Resolution Satellite view as Irma was making landfall –
Irma’s eye during landfall. Incredible imagery from GOES-16. pic.twitter.com/sXsNBDvGPA
— Dakota Smith (@weatherdak) September 10, 2017
Water in Tampa Bay literally being pushed out of the bay by strong winds blowing offshore –
ALERT: Water surrounding Tampa Bay is very low due to the storm. It is dangerous to be walking out there. pic.twitter.com/yUY0YqyPRA
— Alert Tampa (@AlertTampa) September 10, 2017
This one will be my favorite from this storm. A small tornado racing through the background in a Weather Channel reporter’s live shot (and almost taking him with it) –
Did a tornado just whip passed Mike Bettes on live television? Holy crap. pic.twitter.com/MgmkK8KEyz
— Dennis Mersereau (@wxdam) September 10, 2017
A clearer picture of that same shot in case you missed it –
Clearer capture. Nice eye pic.twitter.com/S7cKAIb9pC
— Jacob DeFlitch (@WxDeFlitch) September 10, 2017
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