A little over a week ago, a tropical depression was forming just off the West Coast of Africa. Generally, most Americans don’t pay much attention when the Weather Channel talks about a tropical depression, much less one that is thousands of miles away. Irma, on the other hand, had different plans. By Monday and Tuesday of last week, Irma had not just become a full-blown hurricane but was rapidly becoming one that might very well go down in the history books.
Irma was still not garnering much attention by the public, mostly because Hurricane Harvey was leaving the Texas and Louisianna Gulf Coast reeling from having had dumped ‘literally feet’ of water on cities like Houston, Corpus Christie, and Lake Charles. Harvey was an anomaly that we had never seen before. Most if not all hurricanes will come ashore with an enormous amount of rainfall and often with winds ranging from a Cat 1 (75 mph) winds up to (in most cases) a Cat 3 (120 mph). Depending on the speed the hurricane is moving, the winds and rain will usually last in the range of 4-5 hours in most cases. Not to minimize the impact, but a storm with 100 mph winds continuing for some 4-5 hours will do some damage, but in most cases, it is not devasting and life changing in nature.
With Harvey, this wasn’t to be the case. Harvey moved closer and closer to the Texas coastline, then stopped because it had been trapped by two ‘high-pressure systems’ which held it just off coast. With the water temperatures in the Northern Gulf hovering around 89 degrees, this served to keep fueling this monster storm with winds in the Cat 3-4 range. What happened was this. Harvey was now trapped, Harvey wasn’t losing strength, Harvey was dumping enormous amounts of water on Corpus Christie, Houston, Victoria, and other cities that called the Texas coastline home. Millions of people were having the lives altered and had absolutely no control over their future.
Finally, Harvey did come ashore just on the outskirts of Corpus Christie, Texas. Harvey then moved slightly inland, but the entire time Harvey was visiting Corpus Christie, he was also dumping rain with tropical storm force winds and in some case Cat 1 level winds in Houston. A storm that is supposed to last for hours was now scheduled to last for days for the folks in Houston. And that is exactly what happened.
Hurricane Harvey moved inland slightly, wobbled around, weakened a little, then was pushed back off shore by the High-Pressure Systems. Now that the monster hurricane was back offshore, of course, it began getting stronger again! Harvey then started moving Northeast and came back on shore around the Texas-Louisiana border. All the while dumping Biblical amounts of rainfall on Southeast Texas. When the rain finally did stop, over 50″ of water had been dumped on Houston. This flooding wasn’t just normal flooding, and this flooding was life changing for hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of people.
Homes that people had worked their whole life for are now gone. Small businesses that hard working Texans had loved, sweated and spent years building are now gone and washed away. Children have not been in school now for some 2-weeks since this began and millions have not drawn a paycheck for weeks. Power is still out in many areas, and millions are sweating out the long hot summer nights without any air conditioning. It is currently estimated that some 500-600,000 automobiles have been lost to the flood waters. Imagine the hit that State Farm is going to take by having to pay off these cars? The damage estimates to homes in the Houston area alone are going to be in the billions of dollars, and FEMA is expecting that Harvey’s total cost is in the range of $180-200 Billion.
And now we have IRMA!
Just as Harvey was ending, Hurricane Irma was entering the Caribbean Islands as the most powerful hurricane ever recorded to have come out of the Atlantic Ocean. This monster storm has annihilated islands such as Turks and Caicos and St. Martin. Nearly 200-mph winds have demolished resorts on many of these Caribbean Islands, and the tragedy is, most of the residents have no place to go, nor do have the money to get out if they did have some place they could evacuate to.
By the time IRMA and her wrath had swept through the resorts of the Caribbean, she now set her sights on Puerto Rico and Cuba. By now she is a full-scale Category 5 with winds of over 150 mph and gust well over 200 mph. The havoc that IRMA is now wreaking on the Caribbean is unprecedented and the effects on her residents are incalculable in terms of human cost.
Today, IRMA has re-strengthened and is back to Category 4 monster storm covering the entire state of Florida. She is over 70,000 square-miles in size with sustained winds of around 140-150 mph and gusts over 170 mph near the eye.
For all of our patriot friends (and we have many) in Florida, know that all our prayers and thoughts are with you. For all our friends and family in South Texas, we are with you in spirit as you begin to rebuild your lives. If you are in Florida, please keep abreast of the latest information coming from the law enforcement agencies in your area along with the National Weather Service. Don’t try to be a super-hero, get out of the way of this storm. IRMA is dangerous, she has taken lives and will likely take more.
God bless Florida and may God bless South Texas.