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Edgar Nikitin
Edgar Nikitin

The Storm Before The Storm By Mike Duncan PDF

The ninth named storm, fourth hurricane, second major hurricane,[nb 1] and first Category 5 hurricane of the 2017 season, Irma caused widespread and catastrophic damage throughout its long lifetime, particularly in the northeastern Caribbean and the Florida Keys. It was also the most intense hurricane to strike the continental United States since Katrina in 2005, the first major hurricane to make landfall in Florida since Wilma in the same year, and the first Category 4 hurricane to strike the state since Charley in 2004. The word Irmageddon was coined soon after the hurricane to describe the damage caused by the hurricane.[3]

The Storm Before the Storm by Mike Duncan PDF

The storm caused catastrophic damage in Barbuda, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin, Anguilla, and the Virgin Islands as a Category 5 hurricane. The hurricane caused at least 134 deaths: one in Anguilla; one in Barbados; three in Barbuda; four in the British Virgin Islands; 10 in Cuba; 11 in the French West Indies; one in Haiti; three in Puerto Rico; four on the Dutch side of Sint Maarten; 92 in the contiguous United States, and four in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Hurricane Irma was the top Google searched term in the U.S. and globally in 2017.[4]

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) began monitoring a tropical wave over western Africa on August 26.[5] The tropical wave moved off the coast of the continent late on August 27. Throughout the next two days, showers and thunderstorms associated with the wave became better organized and gradually coalesced into a low-pressure area, as the system passed just south of and then through the Cape Verde Islands on August 29.[6] Around 00:00 UTC on the following day, the system developed into a tropical depression just west of the Cape Verde Islands. Six hours later, the depression intensified into Tropical Storm Irma, based on scatterometer data and satellite estimates. With warm sea surface temperatures and low wind shear, strengthening was anticipated, with the only hindrance being slightly cooler waters and drier air.[7]

On September 5, the Dominican Republic activated the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters, thus providing for humanitarian satellite coverage;[30] the United States and Haiti followed suit two days later.[31][32] According to officials, 11,200 people were evacuated from vulnerable areas prior to the storm's arrival.[33] Approximately 7,400 tourists were moved to Santo Domingo, away from beach resorts.[34] In Haiti, government officials and aid organizations struggled with early preparation and evacuation efforts. While some officials blamed reluctance and indifference on the part of the population, others "admitted they were not prepared for the onslaught and no mandatory evacuation orders were in place ahead of Irma's approach."[34][35] Local officials contended that they had not received promised funds, supplies, or equipment from the national government. The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti prepared its 1,000 peacekeepers and engineers to assist.[36]

In the Turks and Caicos, evacuation orders were issued for low-lying areas starting September 5. Schools were closed, government buildings were boarded up, and shelters were opened.[37] Officials spread warnings to residents in English, Creole, and Spanish via social media, radio, SMS text, and WhatsApp.[38] In The Bahamas, the government began preparations the week prior to the hurricane's arrival, including securing national sports facilities to use as shelters.[39] By September 7, the government had evacuated 1,609 people by air from the southern islands, including 365 from Bimini.[40] Controlled cutting of the power supply to southern and central Bahamian islands was conducted in advance of the storm.[41] Shelters were made available, though usage was low due to most evacuees staying with family on other islands.[42] Of the 2,679 foreign tourists still in The Bahamas on September 7, about 1,200 were being housed at Atlantis Paradise Island, one of the most hurricane-ready structures in the country.[43]

In Cuba, meteorologists did not initially predict a direct hit.[44] Fuel conservation was enacted in Camagüey Province to ensure that enough would be available during post-storm power outages.[45] The Civil Defense evacuated nearly one million people from low-lying areas, including thousands of Canadian and European tourists in the Jardines del Rey.[46][44] Dolphins at a Cayo Guillermo resort were evacuated by helicopter.[44]

Many airports across the state, particularly in Central and South Florida, were closed.[49] Nearly 9,000 flights intending to arrive in or depart from Florida were canceled.[51] Along Florida's coasts, most seaports were closed or opened with restricted access.[49] For the fifth time in its 45-year history, the Walt Disney World Resort was completely closed due to the storm. Its theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs were all closed by 9:00 p.m. on September 9 and remained closed until September 12. Other Orlando-area theme parks, including Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando, were also closed.[52] The Kennedy Space Center was closed from September 8 to September 15.[53]

A record 6.5 million Floridians evacuated, making it the largest evacuation in the state's history. Evacuees caused significant traffic congestion on northbound Interstate 95, Interstate 75, and Florida's Turnpike, exacerbated by the fact that the entire Florida peninsula was within the cone of uncertainty in the NHC's forecast path in the days before the storm, so evacuees from both coasts headed north, as evacuees would not be safer by fleeing to the opposite coast.[47] Fuel was in short supply throughout peninsular Florida during the week before Irma's arrival, especially along evacuation routes, leading to hours-long lines at fuel stations and even escorts of fuel trucks by the Florida Highway Patrol.[54]

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency initially for all six coastal counties on September 6, but eventually expanded the declaration to 94 counties south of Atlanta metropolitan area, and then the entire state on September 10. Atlanta was placed under its first-ever tropical storm warning.[59][60] Governor Deal ordered mandatory evacuations for all areas east of Interstate 95 on September 7, before extending the order to the entirety of Chatham County and low-lying areas west of I-95 on the following day.[61] In total, 540,000 people on the Georgia coast were ordered to leave.[62] Contraflow lane reversal for Interstate 16 took effect on the morning of September 9 from Savannah to Dublin, Georgia.[63] All Georgia state parks were open for free to evacuees, as was the 800-acre camping area at Atlanta Motor Speedway.[64] Reversible HOT lanes on Interstate 75 in Georgia through south metro Atlanta were open 24 hours northbound with no tolls.[65]

Hurricane Irma's path was such that its impact was both far-reaching and devastating, with landfalls in Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Martin, the Bahamas, Cuba, and the United States, all at major hurricane intensity. Furthermore, the size of the storm system meant that destruction was prevalent even in territories well removed from landfall occurrences. Irma is the second-costliest Caribbean hurricane on record, after Maria.[94]

In addition to the catastrophic impact on Barbuda's human residents, concern turned to the storm's effects on the island's wildlife. The island's only endemic bird, the near-threatened Barbuda warbler, numbered less than 2,000 individuals prior to the hurricane. For some time it was unknown if the warbler survived the hurricane or its aftermath; however within a few months it was confirmed that not only did the species survive, but the most of the birds survived the storm.[98] Barbuda's Codrington Lagoon, home to the largest colony of magnificent frigatebirds in the Caribbean, with an estimated 2,500 nesting pairs, was also inundated by the storm surge.[99]

Remaining just outside of Irma's strongest windfield, Antigua sustained less severe damage, in the form of leveled roofs and fences, downed power poles and lines, and uprooted trees. Some street flooding also took place in low-lying areas.[100] Three people were treated for minor storm-related injuries.[101] Forensic disaster analysts from the Center for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Technology (CEDIM), a Germany-based risk management agency, estimate that economic losses for Antigua and Barbuda will exceed $120 million.[85]

The British Overseas Territory of Anguilla saw the eyewall of the storm pass over it on September 6. Many homes and schools were destroyed, and the island's only hospital was badly damaged.[7] The devastation was particularly severe in East End, where the winds uprooted scores of trees and power poles and demolished a number of houses. In The Valley, the island's capital, the hurricane blew out the windows of government buildings. Rough seas inflicted heavy damage upon several bays and harbors, and a seaside restaurant was completely eradicated.[119] About 90% of roads were left impassable.[7] The island's air traffic control tower was damaged, exacerbating the already poor communication with the island.[120] One death was reported on the island. Estimates of losses on the island total at least $190 million.[7]

Large swells ahead of Irma washed ashore debris and sea life in Castries, Saint Lucia, blocking some roads. Seaside roads were inundated with water.[121] One surfer was killed amid rough surf in Barbados after hitting a reef and breaking his neck. Trees were also destroyed.[122] The hurricane's effects, such as violent seas and rattling trees, were intense enough to be detected by seismographs in Guadeloupe. Several houses were damaged.[123] Around 8,000 households and a water supply network on that island lost power during the storm, leaving several communes in the dark without running water. Overall damage was limited to external parts of houses and trees that were blown onto roads and three unmanned ships wrecked by rough seas.[24] 041b061a72


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