Hurricane Harvey was a tragic nightmare that hit the Texas shores with force and then lingered for days dumping massive amounts of rain on a city ill-equipped to handle it. Florida is next and if predictions are accurate, Hurricane Irma is going to be far worse than Houston and worse than anyone has prepared for.
Already, Irma is setting records and being named the strongest storm the Atlantic Ocean has seen on record. Here is a short list of things meteorologists and experts at the Hurricane Center have already seen from Irma that should give everyone pause:
1. The wind speeds broke the measuring tool:
The wind was so strong when Irma passed over Barbuda the monitoring equipment used to measure the wind was damaged and couldn't report an accurate account of the wind speed. It tapped out at 151 mph.
2. What 185 mph wind looks like should strike fear into the hearts of anyone.
The gusts for the Category 5 storm have reached 185 mph. That's the equivalent of an EF4 tornado sitting on an area - nonstop for hours. To put that into perspective, the photo below is of the damaged sustained by residents of Garland/Rowlett, Texas after an EF4 tornado blew through in 2015.
[caption id="attachment_1117160" align="aligncenter" width="659"] Damage in a residential area as a result of the EF4 Garland/Rowlett, Texas tornado. (Photo: Wikipedia)[/caption]
To make matters worse, NOAA's tools dropped into the hurricane to measure the storm, recorded 226 mph gusts from the northeast eyewall of the storm.
7:15 PM - Whoa. Dropsonde in NE eyewall 196 knot winds just 19mb above the surface, 167 knot winds in lowest report… https://t.co/E7qwJxovI9— Alex Lamers (@Alex Lamers) 1504653395.0
3. No one has heard from the tiny island it hit in hours.
Barbuda is a tiny island with barely over 1,000 residents. The top elevation on the island is 38 meters or 125 feet above sea level. Storm surges, however, predict waves will reach seven to 11 feet in the Northern Leeward Islands. That was worse for the Turks and Caicos Islands which is expected to see 15 to 20 ft. storm surges. As long as the surges are under 10 feet, Barbuda will be fine, but if they saw storm surges like what is expected for Turks and Caicos, it will literally destroy the island.
“I am at a complete and utter loss for words looking at Irma's appearance on satellite imagery,” tweeted Taylor Trogdon, from the National Hurricane Center.
I am at a complete and utter loss for words looking at Irma's appearance on satellite imagery. https://t.co/B0ewFyvcSv— Taylor Trogdon (@Taylor Trogdon) 1504652694.0
4. Irma literally ripped grass from its roots.
CNN meteorologist and the severe weather expert Chad Myers reported on air that there were parts of Barbuda that saw vegetation ripped from the soil the winds were so strong. The claim hasn't been reported by other outlets and there aren't yet photos or video to see the full extent of the damage.
5. Miami isn't prepared -- no one is.
Florida is as good as it gets at handling hurricanes. It's similar to states that are accustomed to navigating tornadoes or earthquakes. Citizens who live there know what to do and how to prepare for a storm. However, the strength of this storm seems to dwarf more recent hurricanes.
Already, the city of Miami is being forced to raise their roads to accommodate rising waters creeping into their city. A report from The Atlantic details that the last major hurricane to hit Miami was in 1926 and 400 people were killed. Back then, the city boasted 100,000 residents, but today that number is more like 6 million.
Disaster planners have long been concerned about a natural event of this magnitude hitting a major U.S. city. If Irma turns toward Florida, this will be the horrific event they've feared.
“It won't survive,” said former top emergency manager Craig Fugate in 2014.
6. President Donald Trump only barely understands the crisis.
During a meeting with Democratic and Republican leaders, Trump acted as if he had some special insider information on the severity of Hurricane Irma. All he could manage was to tell them it is "not good."
"(Irma) looks like it could be something that will be not good. Believe me, not good," Trump says in Oval. https://t.co/hdhl52fs8u— Jennifer Jacobs (@Jennifer Jacobs) 1504712034.0