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Earth Science

Hurricane Irma Reaches 185 MPH, Trailing Only Allen As Strongest Atlantic Storm On Record (arstechnica.com) 318

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: We are quickly running out of adjectives to describe the destructive potential of Hurricane Irma. As of 2pm ET on Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center upgraded the storm's sustained winds to 185mph. This is near-record speed for a storm in the Atlantic basin, which includes the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. Such high, sustained winds tie Irma for the second-strongest storm on record in the Atlantic, along with Hurricane Wilma (2005), Hurricane Gilbert (1998), and the 1935 Florida Keys hurricane. Only Hurricane Allen, which reached 190 mph in 1980 before striking a relatively unpopulated area of Texas, reached a higher wind speed. Globally, the all-time record for hurricanes is held by Patricia, which reached a staggering 215 mph in the Pacific Ocean in 2015. Although sustained winds capture the most public attention, meteorologists generally measure the intensity of a storm based upon central pressures, which are considerably lower than sea-level pressure on Earth, 1,013 millibars. Typhoon Tip, in 1979, holds this record at 870 millibars. For now, at least, Irma has a relatively high central pressure of 927 millibars. Why the storm has such an odd wind-speed-pressure relationship isn't entirely clear. According to the National Hurricane Center, Irma is expected to bring catastrophic winds and potential storm surges to the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and the UK territory of Turks and Caicos this week. The Florida Keys could get hit by late Saturday night or Sunday.
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Hurricane Irma Reaches 185 MPH, Trailing Only Allen As Strongest Atlantic Storm On Record

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  • Camille (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cirby ( 2599 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2017 @05:37PM (#55144033)

    ...probably reached 200 MPH, but the instruments at Keesler AFB were blown away when Camille hit Biloxi, so they can't count "sustained wind speed."

    • Re:Camille (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2017 @06:08PM (#55144263)

      I remember Camille. My mom woke me up at 2am, and told me to grab everything I own and take it upstairs. The flood waters from the neighborhood creek were already at our front porch. About 10 minutes later, muddy water started gurgling out of the heater vents on the floor of my bedroom. The water rose another 30cm over the next few hours.

      My room was a muddy mess the next morning. But it was worth it because school was cancelled for a week.

      This was more than 400 km from landfall.

      I happened almost exactly a month after Apollo 11 landed on the moon.

    • That could have been a tornado. Same happened with Andrew in 1992 where brief 300 mph winds were reported before instruments got ripped out. That was not counted as it was a tornado spawned draft

    • but the instruments at Keesler AFB were blown away when Camille hit Biloxi

      the same can also be said for America's deadliest hurricane...which lacks an official name since we weren't doing those back in 1900

      "The highest measured wind speed was 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) just after 6 p.m., but the Weather Bureau's anemometer was blown off the building shortly after that measurement was recorded"

      the 1900 hurricane hit Galveston, killing between 8 and 12,000 people [wikipedia.org]

      • by Muros ( 1167213 )

        the 1900 hurricane hit Galveston, killing between 8 and 12,000 people

        That's a rather large margin of error.

    • Re:Camille (Score:5, Interesting)

      by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2017 @11:24PM (#55145947) Journal

      the instruments at Keesler AFB were blown away when Camille hit Biloxi

      I just moved out of Houston and I was there for Hurricane Harvey. When it hit Corpus Christie, every weather station from there to Galveston was just blown away. And that was "only" a Category Four.

      I never want to be near a hurricane like that again. It scared the crap out of me. We were supposed to have moved (driving to the California Central Coast) the day before Harvey hit, and it obliterated our schedule. Couldn't leave town until a week later when the water receded enough off the highways that one lane of traffic could get out. Tons of people were still evacuating, because the "controlled" release of water from the reservoirs was flooding neighborhoods that hadn't flooded during the initial 50+ inches of rain. It took us the entire first day of driving just to get out of Houston city limits and all together, after a day of driving, we only got as far as College Station.

      We just arrived in our new place in Cali today. There are wildfires a few hundred miles away, but here where I am, right on the coast, there's no danger of burning. At least that what I'm told. Screw natural disasters. I don't like 'em one bit, no sir. Did you know that the constant sound of heavy rain on the windows for five solid days can make you completely insane?

      • Re:Camille (Score:4, Funny)

        by Evtim ( 1022085 ) on Wednesday September 06, 2017 @01:01AM (#55146209)

        Did you know that the constant sound of heavy rain on the windows for five solid days can make you completely insane?

        Sure do. I live in the Netherlands. Why do you think they have coffee shops..

        • Sure do. I live in the Netherlands. Why do you think they have coffee shops..

          I thought that was why you had hashish bars.

        • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

          I can live with rain for 5 days. Wait until you don't see direct sunlight for 2 months because you're either too far north, or it's always overcast. The kicker is it'll occasionally be clear at night, not that it really helps when night is 20 hours long.

      • by nasch ( 598556 )

        Forget natural disasters, I'm going to where they only have earthquakes and landslides! ;-)

  • Reported, hopefully the storm slams some Caribbean island with mountains to take the edge off before hitting the US. Lovely.
  • Two storms of unusual magnitude, exceptional temperatures in parts of CA, but hey, climate change is worldwide con, right?

    • >Two storms of unusual magnitude

      After 12 uneventful years, clearly global warming now!
      • Uneventful in the USA?
        You know the world id actually a little bit bigger?

      • Oh, and I forgot to mention: biggest atlantic storm ever recorded: winter 2015/2016.
        Did not make landfall though, so except for nautic enthusiasts it made no news.

    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2017 @06:17PM (#55144343)
      Quoting the wiki page on Atlantic hurricane seasons [wikipedia.org]:

      On average, 10.1 named storms occur each season, with an average of 5.9 becoming hurricanes and 2.5 becoming major hurricanes (Category 3 or greater).

      So far this season [wikipedia.org], we've had 9 named storms, 4 of which have become hurricanes, 2 major hurricanes. While we've still got 3 more months, but the end of September is the end of the peak [noaa.gov], with a few storms in October, and almost none in November. Predictions at the start of the season were for about 14 named storms, 6-7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. So we're on track for a really boring, average year in terms of Atlantic hurricanes.

      The only reason both storms seem unusual is because until Harvey, the U.S. hadn't been hit by a major hurricane since 2005. Contrary to the doom and gloom scenario painted by climate change alarmists after Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, who warned us that 2005 was going to become the new norm for Atlantic hurricanes. Sometimes outliers are nothing more than outliers.

  • Gas prices will go up!

  • How long have we been measuring winds in storms that are still this far out? Would we have known if a storm was this strong at its current location 50 years ago?
    • Do we really know this?


      How long have we been measuring winds in storms that are still this far out?

      About 70 years.

      Would we have known if a storm was this strong at its current location 50 years ago?

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      The first TIROS satellite was launched in 1960, although it failed shortly thereafter. We've had continuous photographic satellite coverage of Atlantic hurricanes since TIROS-3 in 1961.

      So we've had a geographically comprehensive, detailed, reliable record of hurricane winds speeds for the past 56 years.

      • by Nethead ( 1563 )

        [snark] Too bad it's 56 years of fake science, who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes? [/snark]

      • If wind speeds could be fully and accurately determined by satellite, the hurricane hunters wouldn't be bothering to measure them. Doppler radar can measure wind speeds, but I don't know how long that has been deployed extensively and whether there is a land based station that can reach out to the distances from land at which this storm was just measured. I just spent a few hours looking at historical data and see that even Andrew in 1992 had to be reclassified years later because the data collected at the

        • by hey! ( 33014 )

          Sure they can *accurately* be measured by remote sensing. They just can't be measured as *precisely*.

  • she is Irmese not an "irma"
  • by toejam13 ( 958243 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2017 @06:29PM (#55144419)

    The related links section at the bottom of the page listed "Donald Trump Wins US Presidency".

    Perhaps Slashdot's servers are on to something: giant sucking windbags, massive economic damages, and constant media attention. I understand how it could mistake the resemblement.

    • Actually it's been stuck there for weeks now. No, I have no idea why Slashdot thinks it's related.

      I've been noticing it for a long time now because I submitted that story. Granted, they didn't actually accept my submission, they instead wrote a new story out of my submission and credited me for some reason.

  • Great, by the looks of it, Irma and I are both scheduled to land in FL at about the same time. Something tells me this isn't going to be as great of a vacation as I my wife had anticipated. Well, at least it won't be boring.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 05, 2017 @07:45PM (#55144815)

    This is a really difficult forecast for a number of reasons.

    Most major hurricanes don't just gradually intensify to a category 3 or 4, let alone well into category 5. They undergo periods of rapid intensification, due to bursts of thunderstorms in the core of the storm with lots of hot towers developing. Harvey did this before making landfall in Texas. Irma has done this twice. However, forecasting when this will happen is generally beyond the current limits of meteorology. The Ships statistical model only called for a gradual intensification of Irma. Some of the dynamical models like the GFS, HWRF, and HMON did predict rapid intensification. However, they have been predicting that it was imminent for days, without actually happening. It's obvious when rapid intensification is occurring because the hot towers show up in infrared satellite imagery. But there's very little skill in predicting rapid intensification before it starts. It's related somewhat to ocean heat content, but it doesn't explain when there's high ocean heat content but rapid intensification doesn't occur. Most major hurricanes do undergo rapid intensification at some point, and it's very hard to predict.

    It's very likely that Irma will take a hard right turn in a few days and move north. There is very good agreement among the models that this will occur. However, it's not clear exactly when this will happen. If it happens sooner, Irma could miss Florida entirely and move toward the Carolinas. This isn't especially likely, but it's possible. It could turn north a bit later and move across the Florida Keys into South Florida. There are also model solutions that bring Irma into the eastern Gulf of Mexico. This last situation also isn't especially likely, but is definitely possible. This doesn't include true outlier model forecasts, such as missing the United States entirely. Irma will also get close to Cuba, and moving over mountainous land for an extended period of time could wake Irma substantially. It just isn't clear yet whether this will happen or not. Hurricanes are steered by winds in the upper atmosphere around areas of high pressure (ridges) and low pressure (troughs). There are currently special upper air observations being taken every six hours in the central United States to help with forecasting Irma. There's an upper level trough over its area, that will interact with a ridge to the east, which has an impact on steering Irma. It's not clear whether these extra observations are helping with the forecasting of Irma, but it's definitely possible. Maybe these types of special observations well over a thousand miles from a storm have been taken before, but I don't recall seeing it. It's a very interesting idea for sure, to try to help improve forecasting of the storm's track in the 3-7 day time frame. Even though we know Irma will very likely take a hard turn to the north, relatively small differences in where this occurs will have a big difference on the impacts to the United States. And this is not at all unusual in hurricane forecasting.

    Despite running tens of different computer models every six hours, it's really hard to predict where the storm is going to go. And yet the track forecasting has improved quite a bit over the past couple of decades, definitely outpacing intensity forecasts.

  • Irma Gerd (Score:5, Funny)

    by GrBear ( 63712 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2017 @08:21PM (#55145029)

    After Texas, Florida be like.. Hold my beer!

  • Erase Miami (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2017 @08:37PM (#55145127)
    Hurricanes seem to come in two types. There are storms in which wind is the problem and storms in which rain is the real enemy and the winds quite tolerable. What happened to Houston was a wet storm that will cause massive property damage and very few deaths. Katrina was a wind storm that force the damns and levies to fail causing huge numbers of deaths. Irma is a wind storm and more so it is hell on a stick. If that storm strikes Miami I would expect almost all homes and buildings to be leveled. Winds of 185 mph. with gusts at 225 mph are sever enough to pretty much erase a city from the face of the Earth. there are about two million people in Miami. Evacuation is impossible. I am 110 miles north of Miami and a potential victim of this storm. God help Houston if this storm happens to strike them. Now I see on the radar that there are two more hurricanes trailing Irma. Now every right winger should shout at once "There is no global warming." That way when they open their pie hole I can shove a brick down their throats.
    • by ghoul ( 157158 )

      Yeah well sensible people who live in Hurricane country build using Concrete not wood and they build on Stilts. Bemuda is right in the middle of the Atlantic but they dont panic when they see a hurricane coming

    • 1. Last time I checked, Biloxi was still there. Even after the storm (Antebellum houses still exist there). 2. Those trailing storms are likely to stay out at sea. 3. The global warming folks used to say AGW would shred hurricanes....until that didn't fit the narrative. 4. The last time serious hurricanes (not Nor'Easters (sp) hit US coast was 2005--And predictions of storm numbers have been mostly higher than actual storms since. 5. Grow up.
  • by wisebabo ( 638845 ) on Wednesday September 06, 2017 @12:05AM (#55146035) Journal

    Are you willing to go on the PERMANENT record (thanks to the never forgetting Internet) so that people you care about (friends, spouses, children, grandchildren) know that you:

    Denied the overwhelming scientific consensus on Climate Change?
    Thought Obamacare was a disaster?
    Refused to believe in Evolution? (This is my particular interest, I am a genetic engineer. Now that we can see Evolution happening right down to the molecular level, disputing it is laughable. Not to mention "Nothing in Biology makes sense without it").

    Or for that matter:
    Think the Federal Government was planning to take over Texas in 2015 (The "Jade" something or other exercise)?
    Believe that there is a Pizza parlor in Washington D.C. that was a front for Democratic pedophiles?
    Think that because Trump criticized Clinton on Goldman Sachs he wouldn't end up in their pocket?

    I could go on but you get the picture. How many times do you have to be proven WRONG and been a victim of FAKE NEWS before you learn some critical thinking? Not only are you hurting the republic by voting for idiots (Bush) or frauds (Trump) but you are really hurting yourselves by believing that these leaders will help you (the working class) instead of just making them and their super rich friends richer, and by making stupid decisions like buying waterfront property in places like Texas and Florida.

    Anyway, if thinking won't get you to reflect on your positions; maybe shame will. How about you tell the ones you care about the social media accounts like slashdot where you post things? Assuming you at least have the balls to not post Anonymously, tell them your username. Let them see what you really think. (I have, in fact I'm proud to show them).

    Of course if Climate Change really is a hoax, and the Republicans come up with a much better replacement to Obamacare and God LITERALLY created the animals in one go (and forever fixed their attributes), then your friends and children and grandchildren will see you as the genius you are!

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