I so wanted to make a joke about Wilma and Fred Flintstone. The window of opportunity to look at this as a funny little storm came and went in an instant. Wilma has me worried.
At the moment, the best view is from satellite, though I suspect the Mexican radar at Cancun will start seeing the structure of the storm later today.
This is not a good scenario for my folks who live in Southern Palm Beach County, Florida. In fact, it’s just not good for anyone in South Florida – and I believe they know it.
For many in Florida the first hurricane was an adventure. That romantic outlook is long gone. Hurricanes are terrifying and you don’t need a direct hit to bring grief, trouble, inconvenience and cost.
I’ll bet my folks put the hurricane shutters down a little quicker this time.
I was up, chatting with my friend Bob last night when the first signs of major trouble came in. Bob has his PhD in meteo, so it’s no stretch to say he’s much geekier and meteorologically adept than I am. He was reading the raw recon data from the Hurricane Hunter plane. I seldom do that when a storm is so far from land.
He tipped me of to the report of the 3 nautical mile eye¹. We were both amazed. Then he caught the pressure fall. That was even more stunning.
This is my analogy, so Bob can distance himself if it’s not 100% on the mark: The pressure had dropped so much that being at a point the eye passed (impossible in real life, but stay with me here) would have been the equivalent of sitting on the wing of a twin engine prop plane as it took of and climbed to about 5,000 feet. The wind you’d feel and pressure drop you’d experience were pretty similar.
First the good news. Wilma will not stay at 175 mph. I’ve gone over this before, but it bears repeating. There is a ‘sweet spot’ for hurricanes where they can achieve symmetry and near physical perfection. As soon as one little parameter goes out of balance, that symmetry breaks down and the storm loses strength.
That being said, going from 175 mph to, let’s say 130 mph, isn’t much comfort.
Oh – did I mention Wilma could head for New England? My gut tells me it’s wide and to the right, but too close to dismiss at the moment.
If… again, that’s if… it does come north and does affect New England, the storm’s structure and forward speed (along with hurricane wind speed) will need to be closely watched. The Great New England Hurricane of ’38 hit Fairfield County, Connecticut, but its greatest hurricane force winds were felt 100 miles or more east of the center!
I’ll be writing more about Wilma later today. In the meantime, the hurricane links on the right side of this page are ‘live’ and will get you to the latest hurricane info, no matter when you read this.
¹ – It might have gotten smaller today. I saw a reference to a 2 nautical mile eye on Dr. Jeff Masters blog.