Irma weakens but 6.2 mn without power in Florida

September 11, 2017 by Leila Macor With Sebastien Blanc In Bonita Springs, Florida
A fallen tree toppled by Hurricane Irma blocks a street in downtown Miami, Florida

Monster storm Irma, which ripped a deadly path through the Caribbean, started to weaken Monday though it was still whipping parts of Florida with fearsome winds and rain, leaving 6.2 million people without power.

The death toll jumped to at least 40 as Cuba said 10 people had been killed there over the weekend as the storm carved a path northward. The Cuban victims died from causes ranging from electrocution to drowning, building collapse and a balcony falling on a bus, authorities there said.

Meanwhile, Florida residents in the storm's wake who spent an anxious night huddled indoors began to venture out to survey the damage, which largely did not seem to be as bad as initially feared.

Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm early Monday as it spun northward through Florida, but forecasters warned of hazardous storm surges and "some wind gusts to near hurricane force."

Maximum sustained winds had decreased to 70 miles per hour (110 kilometers per hour) as of 8:00 am (1200 GMT). Irma was about 105 miles (170 kilometers) northwest of Tampa on Florida's west coast, and expected to cross into Georgia Monday afternoon.

Authorities in Jacksonville, in northeast Florida, declared a flash flood emergency, as dangerous storm surge overwhelmed parts of downtown and other areas.

Warnings of storm surges remained in place in several areas of south and central Florida, including the heavily populated Tampa Bay region.

Heavy winds and rain from Hurricane Irma in Miami, Florida on Sunday

"As little as six inches (15 centimeters) of moving water can knock you down," tweeted the state's governor Rick Scott.

"Stay inside. Stay safe," he added. "The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded."

Six million

Irma had triggered orders for more than six million people in the United States to flee to safety, one of the biggest evacuations in the country's history.

The storm roared ashore on the Florida Keys island chain on Sunday as a powerful Category Four hurricane, ripping boats from their moorings, flattening palm trees and downing , after devastating a string of Caribbean islands.

As of Monday morning, 6.2 million customers were without in Florida, according to the state's Department of Emergency Management. Florida Power and Light said it had "safely shut down" one of two nuclear reactors at its Turkey Point power plant.

In flood-prone Miami, the largest US city in Irma's path, cleaning crews began clearing branches, debris and fallen street signs from downtown and the Brickell financial district at dawn on Monday. Though Irma's approach caused two construction cranes to collapse, the city appeared to be spared from major damage.

Irma's path from Africa to North America

The sea had swallowed the coastal walkway of glitzy Brickell Avenue in the center of Miami on Sunday, flooding the streets and leaving cars half-submerged.

By Monday morning, most Miami streets were drying up, though they were covered with debris.

"If this had been a Category Four hurricane, the whole scenario would have been completely different. We wouldn't have power for weeks, and we just got the power restored this morning," said resident Bob Lutz, 62, who had ignored evacuation orders and holed up with a week's worth of food and water.

"If we had evacuated, we maybe had evacuated to Tampa or Naples, which would have been right into the storm."

In Bonita Springs, on Florida's hard-hit southwest coast, large areas were flooded and the entire city was without power. Some residents were trying to reach their homes by walking through floodwater up to their waists, while others paddled canoes.

"I don't think I can make it over to the house. I'd like to walk through there, but it looks like it's three feet (one meter) deep at least, and my boots are only a foot deep and I don't like cold water, which explains why I live here," resident Sam Parish told AFP.

The streets were completely blocked by branches and there appeared to be thousands of downed trees.

A couple look at the receding water as they walk their dogs on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa, Florida

The scope of damage in the hard-hit Florida Keys was not immediately clear. Scott, the governor, said he had received "spotty reports."

"I'm going with the Coast Guard down to see the Keys, I've heard that there is some significant damage in the Keys right where the eye of the storm hit. So we will find out," he told NBC's "Today" show Monday morning.

Most Keys residents had followed mandatory evacuation orders, but there were some holdouts who had to hunker down as Irma tore over the island chain popular for fishing and scuba diving.

As residents began to check out their homes, authorities warned of downed power lines, raw sewage in floodwaters and—this being Florida—displaced wildlife like snakes and alligators.

'Lives, not cost'

President Donald Trump, who promised to travel to Florida "very soon," approved the state's request for emergency federal aid to help with temporary housing, home repairs, emergency work and hazard mitigation.

"Right now, we're worried about lives, not cost," Trump said.

Debris lies piled in the streets of Cojimar in Havana after the passing of Hurricane Irma on September 10, 2017

Before reaching the United States, Irma smashed through a string of Caribbean islands from tiny Barbuda on Wednesday, to the tropical paradises of Saint Barts and Saint Martin, the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the Turks and Caicos.

Terrified Cubans who rode out Irma in coastal towns—after it made landfall Friday on the Camaguey archipelago as a maximum-strength Category 5 —reported "deafening" winds, uprooted trees and power lines, and rooftops blown off.

Enormous waves lashed the Malecon, Havana's emblematic seafront, with seawaters penetrating deep into the capital.

Residents in the old colonial city were waist-deep in floodwaters after Irma cut power and forced the evacuation of more than a million people.

Explore further: Hurricane Irma marches on major Florida cities

Related Stories

Hurricane Irma marches on major Florida cities

September 10, 2017

Hurricane Irma prowled toward the Florida mainland on Sunday, where anxious residents waited in dread to be "punched in the face" by the monster storm after it whipped the Keys island chain with fearsome wind gusts.

Hurricanes Irma and Jose: What we know

September 11, 2017

Hurricane Irma pummelled Florida on Sunday, killing three people after causing at least 27 deaths in a multi-billion-dollar rampage through the Caribbean.

Category Two Hurricane Irma forms in eastern Atlantic

August 31, 2017

Hurricane Irma has formed in the eastern Atlantic as a Category Two storm, just days after the first major hurricane of the season, Harvey, unleashed massive rain and floods over Texas, US officials said Thursday.

NASA sees Hurricane Irma affecting south Florida

September 11, 2017

As Hurricane Irma approached southern Florida, a NASA satellite captured a night-time image of the storm in the Florida Straits and identified where the strongest storms were occurring within Irma's structure. NOAA's GOES ...

Recommended for you

Carbon coating gives biochar its garden-greening power

October 20, 2017

For more than 100 years, biochar, a carbon-rich, charcoal-like substance made from oxygen-deprived plant or other organic matter, has both delighted and puzzled scientists. As a soil additive, biochar can store carbon and ...

Cool roofs have water saving benefits too

October 20, 2017

The energy and climate benefits of cool roofs have been well established: By reflecting rather than absorbing the sun's energy, light-colored roofs keep buildings, cities, and even the entire planet cooler. Now a new study ...

11 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

BubbaNicholson
1 / 5 (3) Sep 13, 2017
Those Cuban mountains were there when you modeled the storm. You blew it, but not because your models were wrong. Something happened. I poured 216 gallons of soybean oil around the shore of Key West. The oil, deployed on the Wednesday night before the storm, spread out to cover 129.6 square miles by the time IRMA approached. The monolayer diminished evaporation, the source of the storm's power. When Irma reached the oil slick persisting around and to the east of Key West pushed by the Gulf Stream, it stutter stepped and slowed down, allowing westward weather to push the storm west. The vegetable oil sheen also diminished the power of the storm by denying it fuel.
So it was Georgia Tech Yankee knowhow (borrowing from MIT's hurricane lab--Ben Franklin--Pliny the Elder-&-Jesus Christ on the Sea of Galilee), not some random communist mountains, that saved the day. The same technology was applied on a smaller scale against Hurricane Matthew with exactly the same effect.

Bubba Nicholson
barakn
5 / 5 (2) Sep 14, 2017
"In a 2003 publication, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences reported that roughly 343,200,000 gallons of oil were released into the sea annually, worldwide.

Of this amount, the report estimates the origin of that oil as follows:

Use or consumption of oil (which includes operational discharges from ships and discharges from land-based sources): 37%
Transportation (accidental spills from ships): 12%
Extraction: 3%
Natural seeps: 46%"
https://response....ean.html
That's almost a million gallons/day, and our resident crank Bubba is trying to suggest 216 gallons will have some affect.
BubbaNicholson
1 / 5 (3) Sep 14, 2017
Fossil oil is released, but it is distributed in patches. Since we do not keep track of spilled & seeped petroleum, we cannot account for those effects. Perhaps unexpected turns could be expected if we did keep track? Generally speaking, hurricanes diminish for years of big oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico.
Hurricanes are local systems, structures which depend upon local inputs. With aircraft delivery of vegetable oil we can precisely control that local system. What do you doubt? Do you doubt that vegetable oil on water self-deploys rapidly to a monolayer? Do you doubt that oil on water diminishes evaporation? Do you doubt that evaporation fuels hurricanes? My deployments from land have been heroic & apparently the soybean oil diminishes storms (it has twice), 23 more "successes" & I'll have a t-test. Sure, the big storms diminished might be coincidence. It's fine to be skeptical of scientific measurements in lab & field studies, too, but you needn't defame me.
BubbaNicholson
1 / 5 (3) Sep 14, 2017
Hurricanes are not alive. Neither are forest fires. Both systems self-perpetuate only so far as fuel being available. Cut off the fuel, the system will be extinguished. When we pour water on an advancing fire in the woods, sure much more water is already there and everywhere in a forest, but our pouring water on the fire at just the right place can have a beneficial effect diminishing the fire.
Vegetable oil on a hurricane is like water on a fire. My garden hose has had some effect, but why not TRY a firehose?

Clearly the defamatory complaints of feeble minded denizens demonstrate a lack of intelligent capacity. Since these name-calling imbeciles cannot be identified, there is no explanation for them. It's probably advanced age, lack of practice solving problems, perhaps? Maybe most people do nothing with their lives except fill latrines?
barakn
5 / 5 (2) Sep 14, 2017
What do you doubt? Do you doubt that vegetable oil on water self-deploys rapidly to a monolayer?

Yes, I strongly doubt it. The ocean's surface is coated with a thin layer of concentrated surfactants produced by phytoplankton and other organisms. https://www.bioge...2011.pdf Especially when driven by the agitation of hurricane-force winds, I would expect most of the oil to be solubilized or compartmentalized into micelles. Some of it might remain as a monolayer at the surface, but the total area and the rate at which it spreads would be much lower than you anticipate. And then of course are the bacteria which are going to rapidly eat the oil.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (1) Sep 14, 2017
What do you doubt? Do you doubt that vegetable oil on water self-deploys rapidly to a monolayer?

Yes, I strongly doubt it. The ocean's surface is coated with a thin layer of concentrated surfactants produced by phytoplankton and other organisms. https://www.bioge...2011.pdf Especially when driven by the agitation of hurricane-force winds, I would expect most of the oil to be solubilized or compartmentalized into micelles. Some of it might remain as a monolayer at the surface, but the total area and the rate at which it spreads would be much lower than you anticipate. And then of course are the bacteria which are going to rapidly eat the oil.


And of course, there is the wind and swells. A monolayer cannot survive in seas where the wind driving the surface waves is more than about 3km/h http://petrowiki....fication
barakn
5 / 5 (1) Sep 15, 2017
Vegetable oil on a hurricane is like water on a fire. My garden hose has had some effect, but why not TRY a firehose?

The million gallons of oil I mentioned going into the ocean every day IS THE FIREHOSE. Since you appear unable to extrapolate from a global scale, let me put it in terms you might understand. The Gulf of Mexico produces 380 tonnes, about 120,000 gallons, per day from natural oil seeps, much of it flowing in the Gulf Stream right past you as you dumped your paltry 216 gallons in. https://www.ncbi....K220695/
BubbaNicholson
1 / 5 (2) Sep 15, 2017
There is more water in a dry forest than you will ever be able to pour onto a wildfire. The water is in the saps, the air, the ground. So it is pointless to try to put out a wildfire, and wildfires should be left to burn? Do you not read and understand my posts? How can anyone be so obtuse? Does oil rise to the surface of water? Does vegetable oil not spread on water? Have you checked out Ben Franklin's paper? You seem to equate petroleum to light vegetable oil. Did I mention petroleum? Of course vegetable oil will not persist permanently, it doesn't have to because hurricanes don't persist permanently. You seem to be some sort of an imbecile.
Oil monolayers have been tested on ocean surfaces and they do persist for a few days time. That's all that's needed. The evaporation need not be blocked entirely as you seem to imagine, only a small diminishment will drop evaporation from the sea surface to match colder waters.
BubbaNicholson
1 / 5 (2) Sep 15, 2017
Cold water kills hurricanes. Why? Colder sea temperatures diminish evaporation. Read the Bill Gates patent. Cooling water is not the only way to diminish evaporation. A thin layer of vegetable oil on the surface of hotter sea water diminishes evaporation similarly to that of cold waters. Gates would have us pump up cold deep sea water to cool the surface! A few gallons of soybean oil does the same thing at much lower expense and much more effectively (cold water sinks, oil floats) as I have demonstrated at Key West last week.
The oil on the sea surface does diminish wave action. I've seen this myself. Look at YouTube videos and see for YOURself, stupid person(s).
barakn
5 / 5 (1) Sep 15, 2017
The oil on the sea surface does diminish wave action. I've seen this myself. Look at YouTube videos and see for YOURself, stupid person(s).

Yes, it certainly can diminish wave action in a limited area. What you have done, however, is assumed that the oil spreads in an unbroken monolayer for hundreds of square miles. I pointed out that the presence of oceanic surfactants makes that an untenable notion. Since you have not provided any valid counter-arguments against that, I am winning the argument. Thanks for your assessment of my intelligence (reported to the mods).
barakn
5 / 5 (1) Sep 15, 2017
There is more water in a dry forest than you will ever be able to pour onto a wildfire. The water is in the saps, the air, the ground. So it is pointless to try to put out a wildfire, and wildfires should be left to burn?

Strawman argument.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.