As usual, there is massive disagreement among the hurricane experts concerning what will happen with Hanna and Ike. Few hurricanes have taken the kind of beating Hanna has taken and live to tell about it. Hanna has, as the old “Timex” commercial said; taken a licking and keeps on ticking.
I agree with most forecasters that there is no basis to believe Hanna is finished. To the contrary, as conditions improve for development today and tonight, the storm should gradually regain hurricane status and start moving north, FAR EAST of Florida. Most top experts are now moving Hanna’s landfall a little further east toward the Wilmington, North Carolina area.
Very few storms could endure the kind of wind shear Hanna dealt with yesterday without totally falling apart. Although weakened, Hanna has “hung in there” and is now ready to tap into nearly perfect conditions for development. I am sorry to be redundant, but it is vitally important for those living anywhere between Charleston, South Carolina and the Outer Banks of North Carolina to not take this storm lightly.
Far too much emphasis is placed on the wind speeds of hurricanes. Tropical Storm Fay recently showed that just as much damage can be done by a very slow moving and wet tropical storm as a fast moving category 1 or weak category 2 hurricane. People tend to forget that when an area is inundated with 15 to 20 inches of rain, not only does the area flood, but the ground gets so saturated huge trees topple with only 50 mph winds. Just ask former President Carter about this, for Fay caused a huge tree to fall on his Georgia home.
There are two major concerns this morning. First is the looming possibility that Hanna will make landfall as a strengthening hurricane as opposed to a dying one. Gustov hit as a weakening hurricane as did that last great Carolina hurricane Floyd. Andrew hit southern Florida years ago as a strengthening hurricane of probable category 5 strength. Charley hit the west coast of Florida as a rapidly strengthening storm. In both cases the damage was greatly magnified by the fact the storm was gaining strength as it hit land.
The second concern is that if Hanna is still gaining strength and hits farther east in North Carolina, she may end up retaining hurricane status into Virginia and become one of the East Coast Hurricanes which pose grave danger to the major population centers from Washington to Boston. Many have spoken and written of the potential catastrophic damage which could occur if a major hurricane struck either the Chesapeake Bay area or New York.
It has been a number of years since there were a true major hurricane strike these areas. Again, the concern should not just be wind; storm surge and flooding rains would be the much bigger headache. Some of the worst flooding events in history in states such as Pennsylvania and New York have come from just the remnants of huge hurricanes which hit the Gulf Coast or Mid Atlantic coastline and then lingered over the Northeast.
The remnants of Gustov are inundating Arkansas right now with what will surely be major flooding. Even up here is St. Louis where I live there are flood warnings in effect for the next three days as the heavy rain associated with what is left of a once great hurricane slowly move over the region. Flooding actually causes as much or more damage than wind except in a comparatively small area near where a hurricane hits.
The threat from Hanna is that it could hit as an intensifying category 3 hurricane and inflict major damage along the coastline. Equally great is the threat for massive flooding not only in the Carolina’s but Virginia and points north and east. There is also the threat Hanna could get back over the ocean and redevelop again into a hurricane which would impact New York and New England.
Ike is presenting forecasters with nothing but headaches. There seems to be no universal conscientious among the models or forecasters as to where Ike will go once it gets to the Bahamas. There appears to be equal probability of it going into the Gulf of Mexico (watch out New Orleans), Florida (watch out Miami and points north) or along the Hanna’s path (watch out Carolina’s and points north).
Obviously two of these scenarios would be horrible. If another major hurricane churned toward New Orleans next week, the entire scene would be horrific based on what just happened with Gustov. Worse yet would be back to back hits by Hanna and Ike in North Carolina and Virginia. Again, in this scenario, the problem is massive and catastrophic flooding of huge areas inundated by incredible amounts of rain falling within a week’s period of time.
It goes without saying that starting Friday night or Saturday morning when Hanna strikes through next week when Ike strikes somewhere; there is going to be multitudes of hurting, scared and frustrated people in the United States. Those who end up being directly impacted by these storms could care less about politics, sports and the stock market. Those whose lives are turned upside down by hurricane force winds or flooding rains are only interested in survival.
Please keep the millions of who will be facing extremely difficult times the next two weeks in your prayers. Also, please keep the poor people of Haiti in your prayers. Hanna has dumped copious amounts of rain on a country already drenched by Gustov. The humanitarian crisis in that country is beyond description. Thank you for reading and I will write more as the situation evolves today and tomorrow.