As Hurricane Irma approaches Florida, there are a number of last-minute (or, at any rate, last-day) events that are causing consternation and monkeyhouse among my friends and correspondents there.
Hurricane Irma's predicted path was (a few days ago) along the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, next to Florida's east coast. As a result, a large number of people evacuated their Atlantic shore homes; but many found that the roads northwards were blocked, so they turned west instead, heading to Florida's west coast on the Gulf of Mexico. Guess what? Irma's predicted path has shifted westward day by day, until its eye is currently forecast to track along Florida's west coast. That means hundreds of thousands of evacuees have fled right into its path. With the roads as blocked as they are by last-minute evacuees, they may not be able to get to a safer area in time. This could turn nasty.
The same applies to those who evacuated north - but not far enough north. Irma is currently predicted to track to the west of Atlanta, ending up as a tropical depression over west-central Tennessee, where it'll bring a couple of days of strong winds and heavy rain. (My former home in Nashville may be in for a wet few days.) That's good news for Savannah, GA, which evacuated in expectation of storm surges and heavy rain . . . but a lot of its people fled west, right into Irma's currently predicted path. I suspect they're not going to enjoy themselves.
Also, Aesop over at Raconteur Report did some fact-checking.
I pulled up a random 7.5 minute topo of Florida's west (Gulf-side) coast, in this case, the Ft. Meyers SW grid.
Unlike some topos, where the elevation stadia are 40-ft increments, FL's on the USGS map for this region are measured in 5-ft increments.
I knew FL was low-lying, but I didn't know just how low-lying.
We're talking Netherlands-low low-lying. Nawlins 9th Ward low-lying. Damn near Death Valley low-lying.
There is no spot on the entire map topo above 10' over sea level.
. . .
The predicted storm surge for the danger area is currently at least 10'. The total range predicted is 5-20'.
Everything on this map in gray or red is land less than 10' in elevation:
IOW, where most of the people live.
If Irma hugs the western side as forecast, pretty much the entire southern half of the west coast of FL is toast, from Saturday night into Monday afternoon.
And that's just storm surge, before a foot+ (6-20+ inches per NOAA forecast) of continuous rainfall for a day and a half is factored in.
Harvey? Just a warm up.
Looks like Irma will be biblical.
There's more at the link.
Irma may end up being worse than Katrina, in terms of the number of people affected and the length of the coastline involved. Good luck to all involved. We'll be praying for you.