The names used for hurricanes are on a rotation. Every seven years the names repeat. There is, however, one exception. When a storm becomes ‘notorious,’ it is retired. That’s where Frances is headed.
As of this evening it was about twice the size and significantly stronger than Hurricane Andrew was at this stage of the game. That’s not to say Frances will be another Andrew – but there is that potential.
AT 11 PM EDT…0300Z…A HURRICANE WATCH HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR THE
FLORIDA EAST COAST FROM FLORIDA CITY NORTHWARD TO FLAGLER BEACH…
INCLUDING LAKE OKEECHOBEE. SOME OR ALL OF THE HURRICANE WATCH AREA
WILL LIKELY BE UPGRADED TO A HURRICANE WARNING THURSDAY MORNING. A
HURRICANE WATCH MEANS THAT HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE WITHIN
THE WATCH AREA…GENERALLY WITHIN 36 HOURS.
A few weeks ago while watching Hurricane Charley, I remarked about the steady stream of data available. There is less from Frances because of its track. As far as I know there are no weather radars available on the Internet from Haiti, Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos or The Bahamas. There are also few, or no, surface observations nearby.
The information is a little more abstract. It needs to be analyzed more carefully and digested. It is not self evident, like looking at Charley on the Key West radar.
There are weather buoys, drifting in Frances’ vicinity. There are also sporadic readings from hurricane hunter planes. And, of course, there is satellite imagery (though the highest resolution images are only available during daylight hours). These are good, but more would be better.
Hour by hour, computer run by computer run, Frances’ destination seems to be locking in on the Florida East Coast. If I had to venture a guess today, I’d say what I said yesterday – somewhere around Jupiter or Hobe Sound.
That’s no guarantee. No place from Homestead to Savannah would surprise me.
If I were anywhere in Florida tonight, I’d be making sure I was prepared. Even with Frances’ strength, most people inland will be forced to weather the storm in their homes. On the coast it will be a totally different story.
Wherever Frances lands, communication will stop. TV and telephone will be limited. Power will be spotty. In some communities, power will be shut off before the storm as a safety precaution.
Most people who live in South Florida have never felt the impact of any direct hurricane hit – much less a category 4 storm. It will be a sobering experience.
My parents live down there, in Palm Beach County. Of course, I worry for them. Their condo has storm shutters and is reasonably well built. The thing it has most going for it is its inland location. I won’t give them specific advice until we get closer.
My friend Wendie lives in the Miami area. Her office and home are close to the Intracoastal Waterway. That is more worrisome.
In a few of the later computer models, Hurricane Frances slows down while approaching the Florida coast. That could mean an extended period of torrential rain and very strong, damaging wind (possibly not hurricane strength if the storm is far enough off shore).
The are really no good scenarios left.