The following story was excerpted from an Aug 28 blog entry from “Weather Insider,” a regular information feature available free to all official members of our website. To have access to future tropical weather information and forecasts, follow instructions and get log-in credentials for enjoying all aspects of the site
We just finished watching several hours of the horrible scenarios going on in South Texas as a result of Hurricane Harvey… and this so soon after watching a brilliant Channel 2 – Bryan Norcross production “Hurricane Andrew As It Happened- 25 Years Later,” which brought back bad memories of our own personal traumas in the midst of and aftermath of a very severe hurricane (we used up at least a few of our “nine lives” surviving that event!).
The most interesting portion of the Channel 2 production was hearing forecaster Norcross’ take-away observation about tropical storms : “The big lesson from Hurricane Andrew is that the worst CAN happen; it may happen only occasionally, but it DOES happen. So, as best you can, you should be PREPARED for any eventuality.”
I myself might also add, those who think “it can’t happen to me” and choose to wilfully ignore explicit officially issued evacuation warnings (as did the people who stayed in coastal Rockport, Texas to ride out Harvey) are playing a mindless game of “Russian Roulette.”
My own recollection is that almost no one here in Dade (including myself) initially entertained the possibility that Andrew would amount to much, and only in the last few hours did we pay enough attention to get some pretty sloppy preparations done. Despite having 6-7 years of formal technical training in tropical meteorology, no one had ever offered me a simple course on—“How to board up and secure your home.” So God laughed – A similar nearby home with a gravel roof and proper shuttering had only $400 damage from Andrew– ours came to near death and $50,000 plus.
Another observation that applies here is that our Andrew was a very short duration wind event; there was relatively little rainfall, and the only area affected by storm surge/flooding was right on the coast near Saga Bay. Death dealing hurricanes are most often WATER events. People drown in flooding like they did in Camille, Katrina and Sandy. In particular, if you combine an incoming ocean storm surge of 25+ feet colliding with 25+ inches of canal-outflowing rainfall, and you reside somewhere in between, you’d better know how to swim!
Think it could not happen here? The then supervisor of NOAA Project SLOSH (a storm surge prediction model) told us in a 1999 meeting that in a few late 1800s hurricanes Biscayne Bay rose up and surged over all the way to the edge of the Everglades! We have been very fortunate in recent South Florida memory not to have had large amounts of rainfall in our summer storms—Cat 1 Hurricane Irene (1999) being a notable exception. A slow moving storm, however, could easily dump 30+ inches of rain down on us just as Harvey has just done in South Texas!
Be prepared– and do rethink your game plan. Two to three months are still left in the 2017 storm season!
For further recent comment on hurricane preparation by veteran hurricane forecaster Bryan Norcross, click here .