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On Monday, September 11, 2017, I listened to the Howie Carr Show, broadcast from Boston.

Howie’s poll question was about media coverage of Irma. Fifty-nine per cent of his listeners thought it was overkill. Forty-one per cent thought it was just right.

Howie, whose property in West Palm Beach is fine, lamented that the 41% who were interested in Irma either a) had homes in Florida, b) visited the state or c) knew people there. I fit two out of three categories — not a), I hasten to add.

I very much appreciate getting updates, so please feel free to comment. Thank you to my two readers who have sent in reports!

If this had been the worst case scenario, the US would have had an historic humanitarian disaster on its hands. As it is, there is still much clean up and restoration to be done.

I have heard and read that there is much criticism for the ‘lack of response’ in the Caribbean by the British and French governments in British territories and Saint Martin, respectively.

Amazingly, one of the lefty panellists on RMC (talk radio) yesterday said he was sick and tired of hearing about it. He said that the French government was doing what it could to help. This man blamed naive people visiting the island during hurricane season. He also said that French people who moved there have a responsibility to know how to deal with hurricanes. He was annoyed that people expected the government to do everything for them.

South central Florida

I have been reading Sundance’s updates on The Conservative Treehouse. He has lived in southwest Florida for many years and goes out to help with aid and rescue after hurricanes. The media are covering only the west coast cities and Keys. Less has been said about the east coast, which suffered worse damage, and central Florida, parts of which are also flooded.

Sundance said that Lake Okeechobee (the big ‘O’ lake visible in the southern end of the state) burst its banks and is flowing into the Peace River near Arcadia. This is part of his ground report:

En route to the coast we got a ham radio call, well, more of a desperate plea for help on U.S. 17 for a group of families stuck between Wachula and Arcadia. By the time we got there… yikes, desperate homeowners and families trying to salvage anything amid chest high water actually flowing on US 17.

We were able to get about 5 families and their pets, and a few belongings, relocated about 2 miles away and called for the United Way to get there and help. It was like something out of a farm movie. These people are suffering, and they didn’t have much to start with; and they are so thankful …

The center of Florida is rural, farming, working class, and also lots of poor people. The coasts are more well-off. I think all the attention is going to the coasts. The center of the state is of Florida is FUBAR. Truth. Really bad. Those fine God-loving people didn’t have much and now they have less.

As he wrote last week, getting any kind of fuel continues to be a major problem. He thinks he will probably be restricted to helping in local cleanups for now.

This is more of what he saw yesterday near the Peace River after rescuing the families:

By the time we got them to safety, we couldn’t get back to where we came from.  We had to drive 20 miles north; to head West toward I-75 near Bradenton; to head South. On the way across SR64 there were people stuck with the Peace River flowing down the streets and driveways.  We helped who we could amid widespread downed power lines; broken power poles snapped like twigs (East to West wind); and trees as thick as cars that were blown over (North to South wind).

It took us 4 hours to cut through the trees blocking the road just to clear enough roadway to get to I-75 (West coast).  There’s massive power outages all over; made worse by flooding, that, as far as I can tell, the radio news media seemed to be overlooking.

Cell phone service is poor to non-existent. Out of frustration our team split up to check on our own situations before we lost light …

I’m writing this from a phone hotspot, which is the only source of internet access (probably because cables are down all over) and using the fuel remaining in the generator. to power up the drained laptop. I haven’t seen a second of TV (and don’t care to) and have no idea what media is saying about storm. However, if radio talk is any indicator, these pontificating doofuses are stuck in their Vichy boxes not looking past the coastal metropolitan areas.

If the media are covering only certain Irma stories round the clock, it is no wonder Americans are tired of hearing about it. Why can’t these news channels come up with additional reporting, which, surely, they could get from other networks’ local affiliates?

What follows are more videos and images I did not have the space to post yesterday. I will also give an update on Irma’s aftermath as experienced in other southern states on Monday.

Current forecast

This was the forecast late on September 11:

Later:

The NHC Atlantic Ops attention is now on Jose’s path.

Here is a map of Florida to help with the updates below. By the way:

Orlando

Dangerous creatures are lurking, even inland:

Disney World and Universal Studios reopened on Tuesday.

East coast

In the north, Jacksonville was hit in a major way:

A Pizza Hut manager in the city is in trouble for telling employees they could not evacuate early:

“We absolutely do not have a policy that dictates when team members can leave or return from a disaster, and the manager who posted this letter did not follow company guidelines,” the company said in a statement.

The company added that all stores in Irma’s path had been shuttered and wouldn’t reopen “until local authorities deem the area safe.”

These pictures were taken near St Augustine:

Going south, here’s Daytona Beach:

There was also flooding:

Going further south towards Palm Beach, here are the cities of Stuart:

And Fort Pierce:

Jupiter residents were advised to stay off the roads:

Moving south past Palm Beach, this was the scene in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, September 9 (another view of the tornado here):

On Sunday, Irma uprooted at least one tree:

Three huge construction cranes fell. The first two were in Miami and the third was in Fort Lauderdale. Fortunately, no one was injured.

Not far south from Fort Lauderdale lie Miami and Biscayne Bay.

This is what it was like on Saturday night:

The flooding from storm surge is unbelievable:

Biscayne Bay flooding:

The Keys

The Keys lie south of the Florida peninsula.

As was forecast, Irma ravaged large parts of this area, from Key Largo westward to Key West:

Residents who evacuated and want to return will have a long wait (another photo here):

Key Largo is now open. Another two opened on Tuesday:

This man says that he saw a lot of mobile homes tipped over:

Marco Island

Irma hit the mainland on Marco Island on Sunday, September 10:

How awful:

Animal rescues

Many animals were rescued during and after Irma:

South Carolina

Irma reached South Carolina as a tropical storm on Monday:

There were also tornado warnings.

North Carolina

As forecasted, Irma made it to the western part of North Carolina:

Georgia

Irma also went north from Florida into neighbouring Georgia:

Atlanta felt Irma’s wrath:

Uber suspended service Monday afternoon. Air transport posed a similar problem in tropical storm force winds.

There were also tornado warnings.

Alabama

Much of Alabama was cool on Monday. Irma brought heavy rain.

There were also strong winds in places:

There were 20,000 power outages.

Yet, other parts of the state near the Gulf were warm and sunny.

Mobile Bay had the phenomenon of its water being sucked out:

Anyone interested in tracking Irma’s final gasps can follow the NOAA satellite image which, as I write in the afternoon UK time, is showing the storm moving into Louisiana and Oklahoma and as far north as Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The Conus (Continental US) image from the National Weather Service is a great Doppler image worth checking out.

In other news, as Mexico is cleaning up and rescuing people after its earthquake, it will discontinue helping Texas post-Harvey:

And finally, September 11 is the anniversary of another severe hurricane — Iniki, which struck the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i in 1992.

Wow. What a time of acts of God, from Harvey to Mexico’s earthquake to Irma. We will remember 2017 for some time to come.

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In many ways, Hurricane Irma could have been much worse.

If she had stayed on water, just off the west coast of Florida, her effects would have been more devastating than they were.

It was divine mercy that got her to touch land on Sunday afternoon, September 10, 2017.

For those unaware of hurricane categories, here is a witty interpretation before we get into the serious business of winds, storm surge and flooding:

This is a must-see humorous video:

Now for the serious business.

This is Havana post-Irma:

After Cuba, Irma, still a Category 4 at that point, hit the Florida Keys:

Damage was widespread:

On the northeastern end of the Keys, it was much the same in places:

Meanwhile, on the east coast of Florida, there were hurricane force winds and storm surges.

There was a lot of activity on the east coast, from late Saturday well into Sunday. The Miami Herald has several videos from journalists and readers to illustrate Irma’s ferocity.

This is was what was happening on Sunday afternoon (another image here):

By Sunday evening, this had happened:

On Sunday morning, Irma hit the Florida mainland at Marco Island:

Her eye began breaking up. However, her intensity continued.

Nearby Naples was next (another video here):

Extensive flooding occurred there in places.

Sundance at The Conservative Treehouse is a Floridian who helps with hurricane relief and rescue. He says that certain phenomena, such as water being sucked off of coastlines and out of canals and rivers, haven’t been seen in such a widespread way since Hurricane Donna in 1960:

In 1960 Hurricane Donna drained the Caloosahatchee River in Fort Myers during her NE turn toward Jacksonville. Ironically That was September 10th, 1960. The tidal flows will play a role in the pending Storm Surge …

The top of the storm is moving water away from the gulf beaches and barrier islands in proportion to the timing of the tide. However, all of that water -along with the water carried by the storm’s energy, will come back in with the backside of the storm. And if that times with an incoming tide…. The results are a fast and widespread storm surge, even up river as all the water piles up.

This occurred in several places along the west coast, including Tampa Bay:

This was Tampa later on (another image, albeit dry, here):

This is what Naples looked like when water was sucked away:

In areas where this occurred, people were told not to go out and take a walk:

Sure enough:

Late on Sunday, Irma reached Orlando:

The state faced tornado warnings as well as winds and flooding:

This is Jacksonville:

Not surprisingly:

Especially around Miami and Fort Lauderdale:

By evening, this was the overall view as Irma continued making her way northward (another image here and extent of winds here and here):

The forecast showed no relief in sight:

First responders were on the ground later on Sunday:

Also:

This is the forecast for neighbouring and distant states. It is amazing that Irma’s reach will extend inland as a tropical depression to Indiana and Illinois:

To the immediate northwest, Alabama is preparing:

Mobile Bay also had water sucked out of it.

Other states, including North Carolina, are also getting ready:

This was her energy on Sunday:

Overall:

Irma’s days as a hurricane may have ended. However, as a tropical storm, she is far from over. More tomorrow.

The war goddess Irma has brushed the northern coast of Cuba and is on her way to Florida.

Hurricane Jose is following closely behind and is hitting some of the same Caribbean islands that Irma devastated.

This is an historic moment as far as hurricanes are concerned. More information follows.

Caribbean situation

On Saturday morning, BT.com reported (emphases mine below):

Forecasters had further dire news for some of the Caribbean islands reeling in Irma’s wake as data suggested Hurricane Jose was “almost a category five” with sustained winds up to 155mph.

Jose is expected to come close to the devastated northern Leeward Islands on Saturday.

The NHC has issued hurricane warnings for the Commonwealth islands of Barbuda and Antigua and British territory of Anguilla, while the British Virgin Islands are on tropical storm watch.

Irma claimed at least 20 lives and left thousands of people homeless when it smashed into the region on Wednesday.

Five of the 22 people reported to have died during Irma are said to have come from the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla.

Aid and expertise is being provided to Britain’s territories in the region in a £32 million government cash injection.

Following a meeting of the Government’s emergency Cobra committee, Mrs May said: “I heard directly from our consul general in Miami about the support that is being given to British nationals living in Florida and also British tourists in Florida.

“We are, of course, working with the US authorities to ensure that every support is available and everything can be done before Hurricane Irma reaches Florida.”

Life-threatening wind, rain and a storm surge are expected in the Turks and Caicos Islands, another British territory, into Saturday, after it was “pummelled” by Irma on Thursday night.

The British Army is on the ground:

Those who missed my two posts on hurricane formation here and here might wish to read them, since this entry will refer to some of the topics discussed therein.

This video from The Telegraph shows what Saint Martin and other islands look like post-Irma:

Watch how quickly water came up this dirt road in Haiti. Scary:

Irma hit the Bahamas (video here).

This is Irma skirting the northern coastline of Cuba:

In Friday night’s post, Irma had been downgraded to a Category 4 hurricane. However, as she skirted Cuba, she turned back into a Category 5:

She also underwent eyewall replacement:

The eye might shrink somewhat prior to hitting Florida.

This is an interesting photo:

This is a bizarre video of people on a beach in Cuba waiting for the hurricane.

Record-making Irma

Cubans will remember Irma:

Here’s another Cuban hurricane record:

Irma’s energy is record-breaking, to put it mildly:

Irma makes Andrew (1992) look quite small, which means her reach will be that much greater:

Florida

Those evacuating had to put up with long traffic jams:

The Twitter thread comments ask why Governor Scott did not ask for some of the lanes going in the opposite direction to be opened up for evacuees, which would have sped things up:

The airports are now closed for the next few days.

By Friday evening, people living in the Florida Keys had their last window of opportunity to leave:

One person who evacuated from the Keys took her chickens along for the ride. She bundled them up leaving their heads and necks exposed and put them on the back seat and the footwell of her car.

Petrol pumps have run dry, which will make any last-minute evacuations nearly impossible:

I have read anecdotally that people are having a difficult time getting through to Florida emergency agencies by phone. There is a number that people can text to receive updates.

Speaking of phones:

Irma’s path

A few days ago, it was thought that Irma would go up Florida’s east coast. Some Floridians went to the west coast for safety. Now it looks as if the hurricane will hit the west coast. Not surprisingly, people are upset, but, regardless, the whole of the state is likely to suffer intense damage:

Here is the projected drift westward:

Here’s another view:

Irma might become a Category 4 (see the hot pink hurricane symbols) again once she hits Florida:

The water temperature is ideal for Irma’s strength — 31°C:

Here is a big picture overview as of Friday.

Rain started in southern Florida late on Friday:

Strong winds are expected in Georgia and parts of the Carolinas:

This is very serious (another view here):

Storm surges

Storm surges are life threatening. Here is the list of warnings from Friday. Western counties in Florida are listed. Here is another shorter one predicting six to twelve foot storm surges. This news video says they are also in effect for eastern counties, although less surge is expected.

That said, the east coast is expected to get 100-mph winds and a two- to four-foot storm surge.

These are the areas at risk. Much of this is built-up land. Millions of people live here:

This is an old photo of the aftermath of storm surge:

Rescue and relief

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump spent the weekend at Camp David with cabinet officials. They are in close communication with Governor Scott with regard to Irma.

Meanwhile, a US Navy aircraft carrier, two ships and other equipment are on their way to Florida in order to provide relief to hurricane victims.

The Revd Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse charity is currently in Saint Martin and is readying trucks and volunteers for Florida.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief — UMCOR — have been helping Harvey victims and are preparing to help those affected by Irma.

The Texas Navy and the Cajun Navy are on their way to Florida.

Possible social problems in the aftermath

Sundance from The Conservative Treehouse has been generously updating readers as he prepares for Irma to touch down this weekend.

He is a Floridian and has participated in hurricane rescue and relief efforts. He foresees a lot of problems post-Irma.

These are excerpts from ‘Understanding the Unique Challenge to South Florida During Irma’  (bold emphases in the original, those in purple mine):

South Florida has not had a South to North path hurricane in multiple decades. There were probably less than two million residents in Florida the last time it happened; now there’s approximately 21 million.

For our friends in the Westward Keys and Southern Gulf Side (South West Florida), please pay particular attention to this current storms path. Unlike the Eastern coast of Florida the South West coast (Gulf Side) is primarily made up of recently populated “shallow water” Gulf barrier Islands. A Category 5 storm that skirts the Western coast of Florida, from Ten Thousand Islands Northward to Sarasota, and maintains inflow energy from the Gulf of Mexico, is a topography changing event …

In a scenario where Cat 4 or 5 Irma continues Northwest (current track), then takes a sharp right turn, Northward up the Southwest coast of Florida, well, the coastal vulnerabilities are almost too staggering to contemplate.

Incredibly, the ground along the west coast — islands and resort towns on the mainland — is very fragile:

The tenuous coastal and barrier island ‘ground‘ is crushed shell and sand, and their entire topography is subject to change as the shallow and severely churned gulf waters carry in sand/silt and excavate the same.

Just like 2004’s Hurricane Charley split an entire island (Upper Captiva) in less than 15 minutes, so too could entire coastal communities be split or covered in sand within a few hours. Bridges rising from mainland on one side could disappear into the new coastal Gulf of Mexico on the other, with the barrier island completely removed.

Sundance also predicts severe logistical problems, which could lead to lawlessness and/or social conflict. This is from ‘BREAKING: 5.6 Million Floridians Urged to Evacuate Ahead of Irma’ (emphases mine below):

Anticipate the concerning fuel issue being the challenge again in the aftermath; as it has been in the lead-up. Fuel demand generally doubles AFTER a storm hits with widespread power disruption; I can only imagine what this means for next week

Power is going to be a big issue. If the path is anything like current projections we can anticipate a power outage in Florida breaking all known records. This issue is made complicated by the South To North direction of Irma keeping the inbound power recovery teams from being able to head south.

Once again this geographical dynamic means the Southern most impact zone will be without power the longest. Unfortunately, this is also the impact zone without fuel the longest; and subsequently you can see the ongoing exponential fuel crisis exacerbated by those with individual generators running out of fuel before replenishment can reach them. FUBAR.

With all of these combined factors, essentially, after tonight – everything is in full hunker down mode until approximately a week from now. I’m not too optimistic that most people are aware of that likely probability. That leads to the concerns of lawlessness etc.

As a rough guess, based entirely on just driving around paying attention, it would appear about 25% of homesteads are not prepared at all. About 50% of those observed in the region are moderately prepared, and about 25% appear generally well prepared.

I would estimate the number of people fully comprehending what might take place over the next 5-10 days (meaning having some foundational knowledge of how to move forward amid chaos) in the 3-5% range. Not coincidentally, that’s about the same range of the general population who would be considered “preppers”.

Exactly. Everyone makes fun of preppers. We shall see how things unfold in southern Florida, particularly in the cities. Hmm.

Two hurricanes and a tropical storm

The more I read about two hurricanes and a tropical storm in close proximity of each other, I cannot help but think that God is furious with humanity:

Just days after Irma, Jose is moving in:

And it is not just those storms in the Florida/Gulf of Mexico/Caribbean region.

Out West, there have been a number of forest fires raging. They extend to Canada’s western provinces. Most deposit a layer of ash, which can make breathing difficult:

Judging from the trees right now where I live in England — e.g. holly berries in August — it looks as if we will have an early winter. I hope there will be no nasty surprises in store. I really am concerned about what lies ahead here in Europe weatherwise in a few months’ time.

Forbidden Bible Verses will be posted tomorrow.

Hurricane Irma continues her push through the Caribbean on her way to the US mainland.

For current information, please check with local and national sources for updates.

British territories are among the islands hit. Prime Minister Theresa May continues to be briefed while the Ministry of Defence sends relief and personnel:

The British Virgin Islands, which saw houses reduced to their foundations and many roads impassable in the wake of Irma, has declared a state of emergency.

Images posted on social media showed entire structures razed to the ground, with debris scattered across the streets.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said aircraft carrying around 230 personnel, made up of engineers, marines and medical specialists, will take rations and medical supplies to places affected including Barbados and the British Virgin Islands …

Theresa May’s spokeswoman dismissed criticism that the UK lagged behind France and the Netherlands in taking care of its territories in the path of the hurricane.

The spokeswoman told a Westminster briefing: “We believe our response was swift. We had a ship pre-positioned. We are getting lifesaving aid now to those who need it.”

True. I read that earlier this week.

The Caribbean

As a Category 5 hurricane, Irma caused ‘catastrophic’ damage to the US Virgin Islands. Three people have died.

Irma pummelled the Turks and Caicos Islands, which had never before experienced a Cat 5 hurricane:

Irma is now downgraded from a Category 5 to a Category 4 ‘storm’. Be in no doubt that the downgrade means nothing much happened or will happen.

Bahamians were evacuated (mandatory) to Nassau. Irma is expected on Friday.

Here’s Haiti:

Eastern Cuba, including Guantanamo — is expected to be hit. Hmm. Finding out what happens to the prison could make for interesting reading.

This is the projection from Thursday:

More information on hurricanes

Vox has an excellent article explaining hurricanes.

I wrote yesterday that most North American hurricanes originate in Africa. That post is useful reading, explaining exactly how the different weather systems in the Sahara and West Africa create hurricane conditions.

Vox‘s ‘How do hurricanes form? A step-by-step guide’ is excellent and comes with illustrations. It relates to Irma in particular and will help to explain the news updates in the next section of this post. Excerpts follow, emphases mine.

Irma:

started out as a wave off the African coast …

This shows how Irma has been plotted by various trackers:

Vox explains that tropical waves originate off the West African coast:

A hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean typically begins life as a lowly “tropical disturbance” — defined as organized thunderstorm activity that stretches at least 100 miles across and maintains its identity for more than 24 hours.

During the summer, these disturbances often start as storms moving westward off the coast of Africa in what are known as “tropical waves.”

Many times, nothing much develops. However, if the tropical disturbance needs to be tracked, meteorologists designate it as an ‘investigative area’ and refer to it as an ‘invest’:

Irma became a disturbance off the Cape Verde Islands in late August, with forecasters keeping close watch as it headed west.

A tropical disturbance that develops further spins around a low pressure centre. It is then reclassified as a tropical depression or tropical cyclone. This is what happens:

The warm ocean heats the air above

Rising warm air evaporates and starts to spin

The air then cools and condenses to form a towering cumulonimbus cloud

Intense low pressure then sucks in air, causing very strong winds

For this to occur, the following conditions must all be in place. Emphases in the original below:

The water has to be warm enough to fuel the system, with temperatures of 80°F or hotter. There needs to be enough moisture in the lower and middle part of the atmosphere. Local winds also have to be arranged so that they allow the depression to spin — too much wind shear can tear an aspiring tropical cyclone apart.

This is why hurricanes develop during the summer into early autumn. The water has to be warm enough.

If the tropical depression or tropical cyclone continues to pick up strength, it is reclassified as a tropical storm and is given a name:

That’s what happened to Irma on August 30, as it picked up speed in the far Eastern Atlantic and intensified.

The US National Hurricane Center makes the call for when a tropical depression officially becomes a tropical storm. It relies on data from islands and buoys as well as from reconnaissance aircrafts that fly into the storms to measure wind speed.

A tropical storm can become a hurricane if the water it passes over is very warm (around 28°-30° C or low- to mid-80°s F) and there isn’t much wind shear (i.e. change in speed or direction). If those two conditions occur simultaneously, the development of a tropical storm into a hurricane is relatively quick. The tropical storm becomes rounded and develops an eye:

A tropical storm with winds of 74 mph or higher is reclassified as a hurricane, according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale:

Irma was a Category 5 as of Tuesday with wind speeds of 185 miles per hour. That’s serious — major hurricanes can do structural damage to buildings, take down trees, and cause widespread flooding.

Irma is now a Category 4.

Two things can happen with a hurricane. They can weaken to return to tropical cyclone status as a result of hitting land or cooler water. Sometimes, though, they can weaken then strengthen if they go out to sea and hit warm water again (emphases in purple mine):

Hurricane Hermine in 2016 was downgraded to a tropical storm not long after it made landfall in Florida in September. But then Hermine moved back over the Atlantic Ocean and hit record-warm ocean temperatures there, gathering to hurricane strength again.

It’s worth emphasizing that even tropical cyclones that aren’t hurricanes can still do a great deal of damage by bringing torrential rain, dangerous surf, beach erosion, high winds, and flooding. In 2012, “superstorm” Sandy was technically no longer a hurricane when it hit the East Coast, but it still proved devastating to the New York and New Jersey coasts.

Record-setting Irma

Irma is likely to set a few records or be in the top list of perfect storms:

Latest Irma news

From what I have read anecdotally on Friday, some Americans who potentially lie in Irma’s projected path are frustrated and angry with news reports. Do they evacuate or stay put?

The sad truth is that no one knows definitively what Irma’s path is.

New technologies developed over the past few years are giving people the best images and projections possible.

As of Thursday, September 7:

Mention has been made of Irma’s eyewall:

Eyewall replacement cycles occur in stronger tropical cyclones (winds greater than 185 km/h or 115 mph) and Category 3 – 5 hurricanes. Wikipedia explains (emphases mine):

Since the strongest winds are in a cyclone’s eyewall, the tropical cyclone usually weakens during this phase, as the inner wall is “choked” by the outer wall. Eventually the outer eyewall replaces the inner one completely, and the storm may re-intensify.

The next two illustrations show unusual movement. Notice how Irma might not affect the Carolina coastline as previously thought. However, Irma will probably go to the centre of the country, towards Tennessee, possibly Nashville. This is unheard of. With regard to Florida, Irma is likely to cut a south to north swathe, which is very rare, as hurricane movement is normally east to west there. This will be bad:

The water in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico is very warm, therefore, favourable to Irma — disastrous for those who lie in her path:

These are the weather alerts:

Here are more specifics on storm surges (see point 3), which seriously endanger life:

Much of southern Florida could be devastated. Let’s hope not:

This is the potential for storm surge damage along Florida’s southeastern coastline:

These are the potential wave heights:

Florida

Meteorologist James Spann issued a detailed forecast on Thursday.

In Florida:

The most severe damage should be on the Atlantic coast from Miami up through Daytona Beach and Jacksonville late Saturday night and into Sunday.

*The Florida west coast (cities like Naples, Fort Myers, Sarasota, St Petersburg, and Tampa) are on the west side of the system, but due to it’s strength wind damage is very possible there Sunday along with widespread power outages and some flooding.

*Hurricane force winds are likely in Orlando Sunday. Potential for structural damage there. I would not want to be in Orlando Sunday; the weather will be much better by Monday.

The whole of Florida is under a state of emergency with mandatory evacuations in certain counties. Mar-a-Lago has also been evacuated.

Relief shelters are open. Broward County is home to Fort Lauderdale:

Petrol is in short supply as people attempt to drive out of state:

People are stocking up and battening down the hatches.

Traffic is crazy. This is from Thursday:

Airports in evacuation areas are closing, including on the west Coast.

People are preparing for the worst:

In closing, this is no time to party:

Prayers and Godspeed to all.

Hurricane Irma is on her way:

Irma means ‘war goddess’. How appropriate:

Jose, the storm behind her, means ‘God gives increase’. Jose is the ‘L’ (low) to the east of Irma:

Yes, there are indeed many possibilities, all of them awful.

Here is the situation in Florida for the southernmost tip (Keys) and counties for Fort Lauderdale (Broward) and Miami (Dade):

This is a Dade County evacuation map. Note below, from the information a local television station is receiving, that county officials are asking tourists to leave:

This is Irma as seen from space:

Someone from St Martin made this short video when Irma hit the island:

Barbuda was in the eye of Irma:

This was the approach:

This is what happened to the barometric pressure:

On Tuesday, September 5, the US Virgin Islands governor, Kenneth Mapp, has signed an emergency order allowing residents’ firearms, ammunition, explosives and property to be requisitioned as deemed necessary to protect the islands. The Daily Caller reports that this emergency order is:

subject to approval by the territory’s Justice Department.

Mapp has:

mobilized National Guard units to prepare for the massive storm.

Irma is expected to hit the islands on Wednesday, September 6:

Irma strengthened to a Category 5 storm Tuesday, with wind gusts hitting 175 miles an hour. Irma’s eye is expected to pass just north of the heart of the U.S. Virgin Islands on Wednesday and bring four to eight inches or rain and 60-mile-per-hour wind gusts.

Also on Tuesday, President Donald Trump approved Puerto Rico’s declaration of a state of emergency. Trump’s approval means that FEMA is authorised to co-ordinate disaster relief efforts:

No one yet knows where Irma could hit on the US mainland.

It could be Florida:

Or possibly the Carolinas:

Irma could also change direction:

Floridians are making preparations now.

The US Central Command has emergency information, such as this page for those living in the Tampa Bay area.

The Conservative Treehouse has useful posts on what could happen in Florida. ‘Hurricane Irma Concerns’ has excellent, detailed advice about what to do now. Generally speaking:

If we Floridians are going to successfully navigate this hurricane, people are going to have to work together and do the right thing. Based on what we know now, this has the possibility of being beyond a worst case because we can’t know which coast will be impacted, so both coasts might have to prepare.

Things were already getting frenetic in Miami today as people were trying to get ahead of the game by getting supplies. There is no reason to wait. Most hurricane food can be used in the course of life, and other supplies will work for season after season.

The best thing that can happen is that you don’t need to use your supplies, or your house or neighborhood doesn’t get flooded so you can easily go back home. It is unlikely that either will be the case for many people, so there is nothing to do but to prepare carefully and fully now.

The post also explains the danger that could well lie ahead (emphases mine):

The 5:00 PM National Hurricane Center cone shows a position just south of Key West Sunday afternoon, but there is significant uncertainty in that forecast. The average error of 5-day NHC forecasts is about 240 miles. It is impossible to know at this time whether Irma will track up the east coast, the west coast, or up the middle of Florida.

Given the amount of time it takes to move people to safe locations, decisions to order evacuation of areas that would become dangerous if the hurricane were to take an unfavorable track have to be made well before there is certainty. This situation could be a nightmare scenario where evacuations may be required on both coasts of the state and in the Keys, with everyone trying to head north on I-95, I-75, or the Turnpike. This possibility is extraordinarily concerning.

Many imaginable forecast tracks are also extremely dangerous for the Florida Keys. If Irma tracks anything like it is forecast, life-threatening conditions will be experienced over a significant portion of the Keys. Many people in Key West think they have been through hurricanes, but the last super hard, direct hit was in 1846, so obviously nobody has experience with what a big strong hurricane can do. If there was ever a time to follow the evacuation orders, this is it.

Another post, ‘Hurricane Irma Update — South Florida, Both Coasts, Pay Attention’ is excellent from the point of view in describing hurricanes past and present. Excerpts follow.

If Irma goes from south to north in Florida, something which has not happened in decades:

the difference between 10 to 20 miles east or west will be extremely important. I have led numerous Hurricane recovery teams, within multiple hurricane areas; this one is concerning …

There were probably less than two million residents in Florida the last time it happened; now there’s approximately 21 million.

Most hurricanes in Florida go from east to west and vice versa.

Another consideration is what would happen if Irma hit the west coast of Florida, which includes the cities of Sarasota and Naples, along with a number of resort areas, namely islands (emphasis in the original):

Unlike the Eastern coast of Florida the South West coast (Gulf Side) is primarily made up of recently populated “shallow water” Gulf barrier Islands.  A Category 5 storm that skirts the Western coast of Florida, from Ten Thousand Islands Northward to Sarasota, and maintains inflow energy from the Gulf of Mexico, is a topography changing event.

Repeat: “A topography changing event.”

This is because (emphases mine):

These Islands, while they may not be familiarly referenced as “barrier islands”, simply because decades have past and populations have developed them, are exactly that “Barrier Islands”These shallow water gulf areas along the coast have not had severe storm surge disturbances for 60+ years.

The tenuous coastal and barrier island ‘ground‘ is crushed shell and sand, and their entire topography is subject to change as the shallow and severely churned gulf waters carry in sand/silt and excavate the same.

Just like 2004’s Hurricane Charley split an entire island in less than 15 minutes, so too could entire coastal communities be split or covered in sand within a few hours. Bridges rising from mainland on one side could disappear into the new coastal Gulf of Mexico on the other, with the barrier island completely removed.   Nature is a powerful force.

If you live in South Florida, please pay attention to Irma’s path. There are millions of people in these coastal communities and only two basic Northern Interstates available for evacuation: I-75 (West Coast) and I-95 (East Coast).

If you live in South Florida West of I-75 or East of I-95, this might be the first storm you should consider *NOT* trying to ride out.

This short video shows what happened during the aforementioned Hurricane Charley. Watch what happens to this filling station (go to the 1:30 mark):

Hurricanes can arise out of seemingly innocuous storms. Florida meteorologist Bryan Norcross wrote a book describing his tracking of Andrew in 1992. The Palm Beach Post has an article from May 2017 which summarises his experience:

It was 4:35 a.m. when the Miami radar failed.

The more than one ton piece of equipment was pulled from the roof of the National Hurricane Center, shaking the building as it fell away in the 147-mph gusts of Hurricane Andrew.

Then WTVJ’s chief meteorologist Bryan Norcross tapped into radar signal from West Palm Beach in a desperate bid to keep tabs on the unprecedented Category 5 hurricane that just two days before was a less threatening Category 1 storm.

Norcross, who spoke Wednesday at the 31st Annual Governor’s Hurricane Conference in West Palm Beach, said he wanted to honor the experiences of the people who suffered through Andrew while also telling the story from his unique perspective.

Norcross, now a hurricane expert for The Weather Channel, is credited with saving lives during a storm he watched grow from a lazy wave to a monster in only a few days.

“I thought the story had not been well enough told,” Norcross said. “People don’t understand what an epic event it was, so extremely different than anything we had seen before or since.”

The conference’s keynote speaker emphasised the importance of residents following evacuation orders:

Wednesday’s keynote speaker, Brevard County Emergency Manager Kimberly Prosser, said vigilance is necessary.

Her presentation was titled; “We told you so, lean into chaos.”

Despite the call to every barrier island resident advising them of the mandatory evacuation, apparently a large majority thought that the general message did not apply to them,” Prosser said. “Thousands of people emailed me personally asking for guidance on their specific situation” …

Imagine everything, because Mother Nature taught us in 1992 that things you never thought could happen, do,” Norcross said.

Last year, the Washington Post published a great article, complete with diagrams, showing hurricane paths over the past 100 years. Of Andrew, the article says:

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew rampaged through South Florida, causing 65 deaths and more than $26 billion in damage. Destroying more than 28,000 homes and damaging at least 107,000 others, the storm would be the costliest natural disaster in the United States until Katrina in 2005.

My prayers and thoughts are with everyone in Irma’s path. I hope that their preparations have gone to plan and wish them godspeed.

President Donald Trump and his family attended an Easter service at Palm Beach’s Episcopal church, Bethesda-by-the-Sea, on April 16, 2017.

The Palm Beach Post tells us:

Bethesda-by-the-Sea was founded in 1889, making it the first church in Palm Beach County and the oldest Protestant church in South Florida. The rectory was designed by Marion Sims Wyeth, who also drew the plans for the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee and the original Norton Museum of Art, according to the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach.

The church’s architecture, dozens of stained-glass windows and gardens make it a popular spot for weddings and photo shoots.

It is a beautiful church, in line with most Episcopal houses of worship in the United States, as the following tweets will demonstrate.

I also enjoyed looking at members of the congregation. They remind me of the people I attended church with during my young adulthood in an Episcopal church. I miss them! (We are quite scruffy here in England when it comes to Sunday worship.)

Bethesda-by-the-Sea is the Trumps’ church:

Trump has a history with the church: He married first lady Melania there in 2005, and his youngest son, Barron, was christened there. The Trumps attended the most recent Christmas Eve service at Bethesda-by-the-Sea, receiving a standing ovation as they entered the sanctuary. Last Easter, the president, first lady and Barron attended the church’s 11 a.m. Sunday service.

And when Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie Abe, visited Mar-a-Lago in February, the first lady included a trip with Akie Abe to Bethesda-by-the-Sea as part of her hosting.

This is a good photo of the interior:

The Palm Beach Post advised people wishing to go to the 11 a.m. service — the one the first family attended — to make arrangements to show up early because of security arrangements. Easter services are crowded anyway, and nearly everyone who regularly attends Bethesda-by-the-Sea shows up for worship.

This is how the morning of April 16 went at the church, thanks to the tweets from Aleese Kopf, reporter for the Palm Beach Daily News — a.k.a. The Shiny Sheet, because of the smooth paper.

The Sun Sentinel shows the Trumps’ arrival. Daughter Tiffany (mother Marla Maples, second wife) holds a pink handbag:

The next set of tweets comes from Michael Delauzon, who works at the White House.

The first family entered from a door near the pulpit and the altar.

The rector, The Rev. James Harlan, greeted them:

The man in front of Barron is not the president. He is likely to be Melania’s father:

 

The president has the aisle seat.

In ‘UPDATES: Trump attends Easter service at Palm Beach church‘, the Palm Beach Post reported that a well-dressed, concerned but polite protester had been along the route to the church. She held up a pro-immigrant sign asking that Trump express concern for them. As if Donald Trump doesn’t know about immigrants! The Palm Beach Post surmised she probably went unnoticed by the first family.

The article went on to say:

A block away, the president, first lady Melania Trump and their son Barron; Trump’s daughter, Tiffany; and the first lady’s parents entered the church for 11 a.m. services from a series of tents erected to give the family privacy. 

The Rev. James Harlan, the church’s rector, gave a welcome message before the service with instructions on receiving communion- and turning off cell phones and cameras …

Trump left after taking communion. The first family planned to brunch at Mar-a-Lago with Trump’s sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., followed by an afternoon Easter egg hunt. 

Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s director of communications, provided the photo of Mar-a-Lago:

The Trumps left later that day to return to Washington, DC.

The Palm Beach Daily News has more.

Tomorrow I hope to have a post about the Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn, which took place on Monday, April 17.

Before I relate a cautionary news story, this is where the phrase ‘to come a cropper’ originated:

For the actual derivation we need to consider the nether quarters of a horse – the croup or crupper. In the 18th century, anyone who took a headlong fall from a horse was said to have fallen ‘neck and crop’; for example, this extract from the English poet Edward Nairne’s Poems, 1791:

A man on horseback, drunk with gin and flip,
Bawling out – Yoix – and cracking of his whip,

The startish beast took fright, and flop
The mad-brain’d rider tumbled, neck and crop!

Now onto today’s news item.

Can you spot the error in the following Facebook message from a user in Florida? Emphases in the original:

The funny part about immigrants staying home is the rest of us who pay for them are here at work like we’ve always been.  Looks like less mouths to feed today.  Have fun while you still can.  So glad to hear about massive deportation.  Let’s make America great again.  Thanks Donald Trump!!

.

.

.

For grammarians, ‘less mouths’ sticks out like a sore thumb. As one can count mouths, the phraseology should be ‘fewer mouths‘.

A schoolteacher should know better, especially if she teaches in a primary school. It doesn’t matter that she is a computer lab teacher. The example she sets will stay in her pupils’ minds.

However, ZeroHedge reports that the parents at Parkside Elementary School in Naples, on the west coast of Florida, considered Veronica Fleming’s Facebook message as one big mistake and took action.

In response to Mrs Fleming’s reaction to ‘Day without Immigrants’, an American protest which took place on Thursday, February 16:

as a local NBC affiliate reported, it didn’t take long before the principal of Parkside Elementary started receiving calls from outraged parents demanding Fleming’s immediate dismissal over the controversial post that was allegedly written during working school hours.  Though she has not yet been fired, Fleming was moved to “administrative duties” by the district pending an investigation of her conduct.

Also:

The demographics of the school in Naples, Florida, is a majority of non-white pupils, with 70% Latinos and 20% Haitian, which likely contributed to the outrage among parents.

The Daily Mail reported that the school’s principal, Tamie Stewart, gave the following statement regarding the incident:

We greatly appreciate our parents who have communicated to the school to share concerns so that we can address this issue.

I want to ensure our families that this person’s individual post is not at all reflective of our school staff in any way.

However, parents of pupils at Parkside want further action taken. They have started an online petition for Fleming’s immediate dismissal. The petition points out that Fleming was at work when she wrote the message and that an educator, particularly one amidst mostly minority students:

should always be professional and behave as an impartial authority figure that is held to higher standards.

The story continues.

The big message here is about the freedom people on Facebook think they have.

ZeroHedge and the Daily Mail include a picture of Fleming in attire unbecoming for a schoolteacher. Why would someone post a photo like that on Facebook?

And, returning to the parents’ ire, why post such a message, especially during working hours?

Although Fleming removed her post, it was too late.

The moral of the story is: be careful when online, especially on Facebook.

Facebook users trust their platform implicitly. Why?

I know people who use Facebook exclusively to communicate with family and friends. One of my relatives told me, ‘If you’re not on Facebook, I won’t be in touch with you. Get with it! Get a Facebook account!’

No thanks.

It’s interesting that none of the articles about Fleming’s post included detail on how it was spotted — or by whom. Someone must have been watching her account.

Also noteworthy is that local residents seemed to have a lot of empathy for her opinion, rightly or wrongly. See the comments following NBC2’s article.

President Donald Trump held a rally on Saturday, February 18, 2017, early in the evening at the AeroMod hangar in Melbourne, Florida.

In a welcome move, First Lady Melania Trump introduced the rally with the Lord’s Prayer:

Big Media criticised the first lady for reading the prayer instead of reciting it from memory. What if she is accustomed to praying in Slovenian?

It must be difficult for her right now. She is holed up in Trump Tower most days and doesn’t even take ten-year-old Barron to school anymore because the Secret Service would have to lay on a big motorcade. It is easier on New Yorkers if the Secret Service do the school run every day. The first lady does not wish to be a burden on her fellow citizens.

It must also be heart-wrenching for her to watch or read Big Media every day. Nearly every news item is an attack on her husband. She is no doubt also worried about those in government in Washington DC. Who is supporting him? Who is betraying him?

Therefore, it seems a natural choice that she would begin with the Lord’s Prayer, one that every Christian knows and can be prayed together.

I like the Revd Franklin Graham’s take below (Image credit: The Conservative Treehouse):

https://theconservativetreehouse.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/melania-melbourne-13.jpg?w=476&h=338

After praying, the first lady gave a brief message about her role, which will involve supporting initiatives for women and children:

Those personal attacks come from the Left. Although she is a legal immigrant, they have no time for her.

Now for a few words about the rally. Those who do not understand Trump will wonder what the point is if he is already president. However, Trump enjoys being with the American people and always has done. Last July at the Republican National Convention, Franklin Graham described him as a ‘blue collar billionaire’. That describes him to a T!

Trump’s Deplorables also miss the rallies, so they welcome any occasion to see him speak to them in person.

The queue at the airport in Melbourne began forming early Saturday morning. The Conservative Treehouse (CTH) has a great report with pictures (emphasis in the original):

The crowd began as early as 5am this morning, and the line was building throughout the day.  At approximately 1:00pm the massive line is well over 3 miles long and consists of thousands upon thousands of Trump Supporters.  The event starts at 5:00pm

HOLY CATS !!  The line of people is so long, it is now actually “lapping” around (meaning completely encircling ) the entire airport property boundary.  It’s insane !

Another report from CTH has an RSBN video which features interviews with Trump supporters — and this comment:

There are massive crowds of people in attendance – not quite sure how the airport is going to fit them all in.

Here is a tweet of RSBN’s Margaret Howell (ex-Infowars) interviewing a Deplorable:

Approximately 9,000 people attended, according to Melbourne Police. Of course, this number did not go unnoticed by The Hill:

This rally was set up only a few days ago. Last September’s — before the election — was on Trump’s website for several days in advance. The Hill reports that 15,000 tried to get in to that one, but ‘some’ people were turned away (fire regulations). Remember that Hillary Clinton never attracted more than a few hundred people when she appeared. Her campaign sometimes had to bus people in to attend (e.g. Temple University).

Whatever the case with Trump’s numbers, it does not matter. Nine thousand people is huge. Matt Drudge hit the nail on the head:

The Trumps arrived on Air Force One:

The first lady looked resplendent in red:

CTH has close-up shots of the couple, particularly Melania.

Trump spoke about the media and their fake news. He said that Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln also had problems with press coverage during their time in office. He said that he inherited a ‘real mess’ but that the White House is running ‘so smoothly’. He reassured the audience that a replacement for Obamacare was on its way. He explained how the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the suspension of his Executive Order seeking to stop immigration from seven countries for a 90-day preiod. He also warned about social breakdown that occurred with uncontrolled immigration in Europe. He spoke about his efforts in the past three weeks to create tens of thousands of new jobs for Americans.

The biggest point of the evening came when he introduced top Deplorable Gene Huber, first in line for the rally. He was interviewed by CNN and Fox News afterwards. More about him in another post, as I am waiting to see if Big Media treat him as badly as they did Joe the Plumber in 2008. May God bless Mr Huber and give him strength in the days ahead.

Acrylic paint has several advantages, among them ease of use and quick drying time.

Unfortunately, it isn’t very good for subtle tones. As a result, the finished canvas often looks sophomoric.

However, for high school art classes, acrylic’s advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Art

I’ve only ever seen two acrylic paintings that were any good. Both were by an amateur artist who exhibited them at an art fair in our area last year.

The artist did well to paint on small canvases which allowed her to use the medium to its best advantage: achieving fine detail.

That sounds contradictory, however, this lady’s paintings — one of a field of poppies, the other of daisies — were marvellous. She must have spent a lot of time on them, because all the leaves of grass were visible and natural, as were the dozens of flower petals. Both were pleasing to the eye and a joy to look at.

It was clear the artist understood and had perfected her brush strokes with the medium.

By contrast, I had a friend many years ago who painted large canvases with acrylic and achieved mediocre results for the most part. He was unable to properly blend one colour into another. That happens to most big-canvas acrylic artists who try to paint portraits or street scenes. Acrylic is best left for the abstract which requires dramatic colour and broad brush strokes.

An example of an acrylic painting follows. Subject matter aside, the brush strokes need work, a common mistake. Art teachers really need to teach students more about brush control, particularly according to paint medium.

The Cannon Tunnel, which connects the Cannon House Office Building to the Capitol Building in Washington DC, is home to an exhibit of artwork by American high school students, winners of the Congressional Art competition. The artwork changes every year.

This photo shows part of the current selection, which, as you can see, is of high quality. I particularly like the masterful detail in the painting of the pair of shoes in the lower left hand corner.

The other painting which is striking is the black Liberty in the upper right hand corner. That student understands brush control, texture and subtlety.

There is a noticeable gap on the wall. An acrylic painting hung there, but a Republican congressman removed it for its subject matter. The amateurish acrylic brush strokes are a greater reason why it should not be there. Bill Clark of CQ Roll Call took this photo of Untitled #1:

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 5: A controversial painting by Missouri student David Pulphus depicting police as animals hangs in the tunnel connecting the U.S. Capitol to the Cannon House Office building as part of the annual student art exhibit on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017. The painting was selected as the 2016 Congressional Art Competition winner from Rep. William Lacy Clay's district in the St. Louis area. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The depiction of Ferguson, Missouri, comes so close. The technique holds it back.

Roll Call reports:

California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter has removed from display in the Cannon tunnel the controversial student art contest painting of police-community relations in Ferguson, Missouri, that depicts police officers as animals.

A Huffington Post reporter first tweeted a photograph of the empty space and said that Hunter removed it.

Hunter took it upon himself to take down the painting, Washington Republican Rep. Dave Reichert’s office later confirmed. It was sponsored by Missouri Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay, who had defended it.

Reichert, who spent 33 years in law enforcement, had criticized the artwork earlier, and gave Hunter a phone call on Friday after finding out about the removal.

Fox News tells us that the Congressional Black Caucus issued a statement which read in part:

“The rehanging of this painting for public view represents more than just protecting the rights of a student artist, it is a proud statement in defense of the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression to every American,” the statement said, noting it had been “removed without permission or proper authority” by Hunter. 

Hunter, R-Calif., personally unscrewed and removed the painting last Friday, saying he was angered by its depiction of law enforcement officers. He then delivered the painting to Clay’s office. 

“Lacy can put it back up, I guess, if he wants to,” Hunter told FoxNews.com at the time, “but I’m allowed to take it down.” 

The painting, hanging since June, was done by high school student David Pulphus, who had won Clay’s annual Congressional Art competition. 

However:

After the piece was removed Friday, Ron Hernandez, president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, said in a statement they were “very pleased.”

He said: “At a time of our country facing rising crime and a shortage of those willing to work the streets as police officers and deputy sheriffs, we need to make it clear that depictions of law enforcement officers as pigs in our Nation’s Capital is not acceptable.”

One could make a case for both points of view.

However, looking at the other Congressional Art winners on the wall, it does seem as if the painting was chosen for its subject matter rather than its artistry.

Art teachers should spend the first few lessons teaching brush technique. A small canvas will help students greatly in developing the patience — and art — of working with acrylics. Instead, I suspect, they teach colour mixing, perspective and get the students to begin expressing themselves boldly straightaway.

I arrived at this conclusion after attending an evening a few years ago with the since-deceased London Evening Standard art critic Brian Sewell who studied at the Courtauld. He told us that a university art student sought his advice about improving his painting. Sewell advised the student to buy finer brushes — the type used to achieve detail on feathers and fur — and really practice with them before committing to a working canvas. Sewell lamented the lack of today’s training even at Britain’s best art schools. The brushes are on sale, he said, but teachers ignore them, consequently, students are unaware of them. The instructors, he concluded, are not interested in teaching fine art.

Reality

Moving on to Untitled #1‘s subject matter, it is surprising that, after two terms — eight years — of the nation’s first black president at the helm, America has such a racially divisive atmosphere, the likes of which have not been seen since the late 1960s when civil rights laws were just coming into existence.

Sadly, Obama never visited Ferguson. Instead, he sent Attorney General Eric Holder. However, the situation was so violent by then that the president should have made the journey himself. He missed a great opportunity to converse with the residents in person. He could have appealed for calm by giving them more facts behind the events, excerpted below:

Michael Brown robbed a Ferguson, Missouri, convenience store of two handfuls of cigarillos just minutes before Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot him on Aug. 9, according to his friend Dorian Johnson’s testimony before a St. Louis County grand jury. Wilson testified Brown’s possession of the cigarillos was the impetus behind the encounter that ultimately led to his death.

Wilson avoided indictment on criminal charges Monday after the grand jury decided there was a lack of probable cause to suggest that he committed a crime. The decision generated widespread outrage, particularly in Ferguson, where police used tear gas to subdue crowds that started fires and destroyed property.

In the days and months after Brown’s death, the convenience store robbery was considered a major factor in determining his and Wilson’s motives during their fatal encounter …

Johnson testified he had planned to pay for the cigarillos, but Brown reached over the counter and grabbed them. Brown walked toward the door and the store clerk rushed around the counter to prevent his exit. He shoved the clerk and left the store. As they walked out, the clerk said he would call the police …

But as Johnson and Brown walked down the middle of Canfield Drive, they encountered Wilson’s police cruiser. Wilson testified he told the pair to move to the sidewalk, prompting a vulgar response from Brown. “It was a very unusual and not expected response from a simple request,” Wilson told the grand jury …

Johnson testified Wilson initiated physical contact, that he never saw Brown throw a punch and that Brown was outside the police cruiser when Wilson shot him.

Wilson testified he acted in self-defense after Brown punched him and attempted to grab his gun. During the struggle for the gun, he said, Brown “had the most intense aggressive face. The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked.”

Obama could have also explained that the average citizen looks at each police incident as an isolated event. By contrast, law enforcement officers see things differently. They encounter criminals or strange situations all the time. It’s what they do. They are trained professionals.

A 2015 US Department of Justice report agreed with Wilson’s actions (p. 84 of the PDF). The quotation below explains how difficult it is to fully judge a situation when seconds could mean life or death (emphasis mine):

While Brown did not use a gun on Wilson at the SUV, his aggressive actions would have given Wilson reason to at least question whether he might be armed, as would his subsequent forward advance and reach toward his waistband. This is especially so in light of the rapidly-evolving nature of the incident. Wilson did not have time to determine whether Brown had a gun and was not required to risk being shot himself in order to make a more definitive assessment.

For my readers who do not live in the United States, it is important to understand that American police shoot more white suspects than black. A 2016 study conducted at Harvard revealed the statistics. Emphases in the original below:

The study was conducted by the Harvard University economist Roland G. Fryer Jr., an African-American, who said it produced “the most surprising result of my career.” His team studied over 1,300 police shootings in 10 major police departments over the 2000-2015 span …

When encountering a suspect, police officers were about 16-19% more likely to use their hands on the suspect, push the person into a wall or to the ground, use handcuffs, and draw their weapons, if the suspect was black. They were also 24-25% more likely to point their weapons or use pepper spray or batons on a black suspect.

But when it came to shooting the suspects, police officers were more likely to fire without having first been attacked if the suspects were white. Additionally, the study learned that black and white civilians in the shootings were equally likely to be carrying a weapon.

And while zeroing in on the police department in Houston to get a more detailed picture, Mr. Fryer found that in situations of justifiable use of force, when, for instance, the officer is being attacked by the suspect, officers were 20% less likely to shoot at a black suspect. Accounting for other control factors in tense situations, Mr. Fryer saw similar results that there was either no difference between how blacks and whites were treated or that blacks were less likely to be shot.

Furthermore, police kill more whites and Hispanics than blacks. The Daily Wire has an equally interesting set of statistics from Heather MacDonald, the Thomas W Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Excerpts follow (emphases in the original):

1. Cops killed nearly twice as many whites as blacks in 2015. According to data compiled by The Washington Post, 50 percent of the victims of fatal police shootings were white, while 26 percent were black. The majority of these victims had a gun or “were armed or otherwise threatening the officer with potentially lethal force,” according to Mac Donald in a speech at Hillsdale College.

2. More whites and Hispanics die from police homicides than blacks. According to Mac Donald, 12 percent of white and Hispanic homicide deaths were due to police officers, while only four percent of black homicide deaths were the result of police officers.

“If we’re going to have a ‘Lives Matter’ anti-police movement, it would be more appropriately named “White and Hispanic Lives Matter,'” said Mac Donald in her Hillsdale speech.

4. Black and Hispanic police officers are more likely to fire a gun at blacks than white officers. This is according to a Department of Justice report in 2015 about the Philadelphia Police Department, and is further confirmed that by a study conducted University of Pennsylvania criminologist Greg Ridgeway in 2015 that determined black cops were 3.3 times more likely to fire a gun than other cops at a crime scene. 

5. Blacks are more likely to kill cops than be killed by cops. This is according to FBI data, which also found that 40 percent of cop killers are black. According to Mac Donald, the police officer is 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black than a cop killing an unarmed black person.

MacDonald concluded that the ‘Ferguson Effect’ has resulted in a 17% murder spike in America’s 50 largest cities (emphases mine):

as a result of cops being more reluctant to police neighborhoods out of fear of being labeled as racists. Additionally, there have been over twice as many cops victimized by fatal shootings in the first three months of 2016.

It should also be noted that, contrary to 50 years ago, the United States has many more minority police officers. They get shot, too.

Master Sgt Debra Clayton lost her life on duty in Orlando on January 9, 2017. She had served 17 years as a law enforcement officer.

Clayton was one of the first responders to the Pulse shooting in June 2016. She was also a loving wife, a devoted mother and a caring neighbour. The photo below comes courtesy of the Orlando Police Department via the Orlando Sentinel:

OPD officer shot and killed; deputy dies in crash

The Sentinel reports that she:

was gunned down Monday morning near a Wal-Mart on John Young Parkway and Princeton Street in Pine Hills while confronting 41-year-old Markeith Loyd, who is wanted for murder.

Markeith Loyd is wanted for the fatal shooting on December 13, 2016 of his ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon:

“Markeith Loyd is a suspect this community is familiar with. He should be considered armed and dangerous. He is a suspect in the murder of a pregnant woman in the jurisdiction of the Orange County Sheriff Office,” [police chief John] Mina said.

Dixon’s brother, Ronald Steward, was also shot and critically injured when he tried to come to her aid, investigators said.

Loyd is currently on the run. Interestingly, the admins at Facebook have not suspended his page:

It gets no realer then me,like it or not I’m go keep it 1,000…. I wear no mask,what you see is what you get..

Local ABC affiliate WFTV reported:

A witness to the shooting said the gunman was wearing a shirt that read “security,” but Mina said Loyd was not a security guard.

“(The shooter) was an average-looking dude, he walked by me, had a security vest and everything,” witness James Herman told Channel 9. “I was walking down the sidewalk, right past the officer, and I heard her tell him to stop, or whatever, and he shot her. He shot her down. He took off running. It’s unreal.”

Herman said the man continued to shoot behind him as he was running from the scene.

As he was running, he was shooting back, he was shooting backwards,” Herman said. “I hit the ground on the side over here because I wasn’t sure where the shooting was coming from at first.”

Clayton was outside the Walmart when she was approached by a shopper, Herman said. 

The customer walked up to her and said that someone they were looking for, wanted, was in the store in the line to check out,” he said. “She went in there, I guess, to confront him. As she was going back to Walmart, he was coming out, and he shot her.”

May Master Sgt Debra Clayton rest in peace. My condolences to her many friends and family at this difficult time.

What this goes to show is how complex — and dangerous — law enforcement is. I have not been the greatest supporter of the police in the past, but reading about these recent cases has given me pause for thought. Perhaps others feel the same way.

It’s easy for us, so far away from the line of fire, to criticise people who put their lives on the line every day for our safety.

Here’s a turn-up for the books!

Phew! That’s a relief!

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