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An 11-year-old boy had his dream fulfilled at the White House on Friday, September 15, 2017.

Shortly before his birthday, Frank wrote to President Donald Trump:

The lad’s penmanship needs work. Another thing is the crossed out signature. Why couldn’t his mother or father print out a fresh copy of the letter for him to sign? But those are small quibbles about a heart-warming story.

On Wednesday, September 13, press secretary Sarah Sanders announced that Frank would be visiting the White House:

I’d like to announce that Frank from Falls Church, Virginia, whose letter I read last month offering his services to mow the White House lawn, will be here on Friday. He’ll work with the grounds-keeping crew here at the White House and will help cut the grass in the Rose Garden.

The President is committed to keeping the American Dream alive for kids like Frank, and we’re all looking forward to having him here.

This was the scene last Friday:

Lefties went crazy, accusing the White House of using child labour. On Sanders’s tweet thread, one person said that Frank’s mowing the lawn was much better than what another little boy was doing. (How true. I pray that little boy is safe. I cannot imagine a parent consenting to that.)

Someone on The_Donald started a thread with this title:

Liberals think 11-year-olds are too young to volunteer to mow a lawn, but are mature enough to undergo sex-change treatment.

Yes! That said, I do wish people would stop calling lefties ‘liberals’. It legitimises them. If anything, they are the most illiberal people alive.

The_Donald’s thread has amusing mock CNN and PBS headlines for the story. Those posting to the thread recalled mowing the lawn as children. So do I. There were also enterprising pre-teens who would shovel people’s drives after a snowstorm for a small fee. That’s all changed. I understand from several Americans that boys haven’t done that for years.

Here are a few of the comments.

This one:

My cousin used to mow lawns for extra cash in high school.. then after high school he was like, “school is for losers” and just mowed lawns full time.. he now runs a lawn care business that employs dozens of people and he’s 25. wew.

The reply:

Friends[‘] kid did same thing, began at 10, hired his first crew at 14 – was worth a million before he was 21.

And this one:

If the same kid wanted to get pumped full of sex hormones, that’s progressive. But apparently he’s too young to choose to operate a push mower? I don’t get it.

The reply:

You “don’t get it” because you have a fully functioning brain… 🙂

In case you think I’m being hard on the Left, recall that Obama invited Clock Boy to the White House in 2015. The New York Times reported:

Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old Texas boy who became a cause célèbre after he was detained and handcuffed for taking a homemade clock to school, visited the White House on Monday for its second astronomy night.

After Ahmed’s detention on Sept. 14, President Obama invited him to bring his clock to the White House. “Cool clock, Ahmed,” Mr. Obama said on Twitter, adding: “We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.”

As the Daily Wire explains, Clock Boy is somewhat dubious. After going to the White House, he and his family moved to Qatar. Then they returned to Texas. In May 2017, CBS News reported:

A federal judge has dismissed a discrimination lawsuit brought by the family a Muslim student who was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school that officials believed to be a bomb, saying the student’s attorneys failed to prove he was treated differently based on his race or religion.

Now he’s back in Qatar in secondary school. But, I digress.

Frank is a very different character. In fact, he wants to be a Navy SEAL when he grows up.

For now, though, he just wants to do his work well. In fact, he was concentrating so hard on mowing the Rose Garden lawn that he did not even notice President Trump approach him:

Frank’s nickname is FX (Francis Xavier?). Here’s the White House video. Frank’s father accompanied him:

The Daily Mail has a charming summary of Frank and his day:

The_Donald has another thread about Frank, sorry, FX. I particularly enjoyed the following exchange (and have substituted A and B for the posters’ names):

A: Loved watching this kid today. Lines weren’t perfect. That lawn mower weighs more than he does…then the freaking PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES walks up to him and he is like “sorry, got a job to do sir” and just keeps mowing.

Some presidents would have been annoyed to be ignored like that. Trump was beaming with pride. It’s that kind of work ethic that he absolutely loves. Which is why he’d rather rub shoulders with construction workers and cab drivers and bricklayers than the putzes he usually has to deal with to keep his brand afloat in the past.

I’m telling you, he was just admiring this kid for his focus on the job. This is a good kid. He may never be rich or famous or any of those things, but he will always have a job because he is willing to work and commit to the work.

It’s Americans like this that built this country. Not the snobs that run it.

B: Best internship ever!

Although if Trump had pulled a $100 from his wallet, given it to him, and ruffled Frank’s hair, it would have been totally awesome.

A: Frank would have given it back I think. Kid is on a mission.

After Frank helped make lawns great again …

… he got a great reward …

… and was the subject of at least one news show that night:

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Sarah Sanders’s father, came up with a great suggestion:

Along with millions of Americans, I wish Frank ‘FX’ Giaccio a lifetime of happiness and success. His parents are doing a great job of raising an all-American boy. I wish the world had more people like them.

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Please note: this post deals with a sensitive subject.

On Monday, September 18, 2017, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) gave a press conference to discuss the Democrats’ plan to work with President Donald J Trump on amnesty for illegal aliens.

She no doubt thought it would go well, but she did not plan for an angry mob of people without US citizenship to shout her down. She is visibly shaking in the video below. I almost felt sorry for her:

This is Pelosi’s hoped-for voting bloc. Actually, some non-citizens vote already and did so in last year’s general election:

But I digress.

Back to Pelosi’s press conference. The optics are bad.

Here is another view:

Breitbart reported that the group of protesters, the Immigration Liberation Movement, employed classic radical techniques used during the Occupy protests in 2011:

The group shouted down Rep. Pelosi, who struggled to maintain control of the meeting, and unfurled a large banner calling for all illegal aliens to be legalized.

Others held up signs, including: “Fight 4 All 11 Million,” referring to the estimated total of all illegal aliens in the U.S.

Pelosi regained her composure afterwards, but one cannot help but wonder what she was thinking:

Breitbart explains the purpose of the press conference in more detail:

Earlier, Pelosi had spoken at the podium with community leaders and fellow members of Congress from the Bay Area in support of her legislative push for a bill that would legalize the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

President Donald Trump canceled DACA earlier this month, but left Congress a six-month window in which to find a legislative solution for the roughly 800,000 DACA beneficiaries. Pelosi said that she wanted the “DREAM Act,” a long-dormant Democratic Party bill that goes much further than DACA, “to be the basis of how we go forward.”

“We’re not giving up our fight to protect America’s dreamers,” she said.

However, she could not speak over the protests. “It’s clear you don’t want any answers,” she said.

Obama created DACA by executive order. That was wrong. It should have been a bill created in Congress that went through the usual legislative process. This is why Trump got rid of it.

Obama was a genius (in all the wrong ways), because this is a political hot potato. He was great at creating chaos.

The Free Beacon reported on Pelosi’s press conference:

Pelosi and Democrats have held the position that Dreamers should be legalized because only their parents are guilty of illegally immigrating to the United States. The protesters did not agree with such an approach.

“Congresswoman Pelosi, you called this press conference in our name to defend the so-called ‘Dream Act,'” they chanted. “But you’ve already traded in our parents in our name.”

They also attacked Pelosi for reaching out to make deals with Trump.

“Last week you announced that you had agreed with President Trump, and I quote you, ‘to work out a passage of border security,'” they chanted.

The article says that the radicals are even upset with Obama, claiming that, during his time in office, nearly three million illegals were deported.

Trump voters, hoping for better border and immigration security, are more upset than ever. Trending heavily on Twitter are #NoDACA and #NoAmnesty:

However, this could be part of a master plan from the American president. A Breitbart reader offers this candid analysis:

Actually, it is a stroke of genius on Trump’s part. If he does not get the wall, there will be no deal. And all of the illegals will turn on the Dems and blame them. Then, the Dems will finally admit that the DACA are caca and throw them under the bus while they look for a way to get new voters. So Trump has put the Dems in the hot spot, & they will get the blame for conceding the wall in order to let the DACA’s stay on work permits. Except the Dems will never allow the wall to be built. They have “compromised” in the past, but the wall has never been built because they lie through their teeth. So, since the Dems cannot compromise, the DACA’s deport as soon as their permits expire, & we get the wall. Along with a huge host of other goodies. Like less immigration & H series visas. Grab the popcorn, it is going to get good!

Information about DACA

Until a few days ago, I was under the mistaken impression that those enrolled in DACA — Dreamers — are children.

The Daily Caller says this is exactly what the media want people to believe (emphases mine below):

CNN and MSNBC are repeating the false claim that DACA recipients are “children” or “kids,” while actually most are adults.

While DACA recipients were illegally brought to the United States by their parents when they were children, the minimum age to apply for the program is 15 years old. In fact, the majority of the applicants were over the age of 20 based on 2014 data from the US government. Some have estimated that the average age of dreamers is 25 or 26 years old–hardly children.

The Daily Wire tells us more about Obama’s brilliance — calling off any serious screening for DACA applicants:

With all the hype surrounding President Trump’s decision to end DACA, it’s important to remember a 2013 report from Judicial Watch revealing that under Barack Obama’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS), background checks were scrapped for those applying to be covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Documents from 2012 obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request show that memos were circulated about circumventing extensive background checks for those applying for DACA protection. For instance, memos from September 14 ordered the National Benefits Center (NBC) to provide “lean and lite” background checks to DACA applicants without a specified end date to stop the practice. Another email thread showed that DACA applicants couldn’t be denied protection if they were unable to produce some form of identification.

But there is more:

DACA also opened the door for family members of illegals protected under DACA to receive amnesty, as a directive allowed for “immediate relatives” of DACA illegals to receive protection for deportation. Therein lies the problem with DACA and efforts to provide legalization and citizenship to so-called Dreamers: it’s the first step toward broader amnesty.

The article concludes:

A country cannot adequately protect its citizens and uphold its sovereignty if it doesn’t know who is entering the country; by conducting only “light and lean” background checks and not requiring identification in applying for DACA, then extending protection to immediate family members of illegals protected by DACA, it’s very easy for people with criminal records to get through. Especially since so many of the DACA Dreamers aren’t actually children.

Trump cancelled DACA on September 5. New applications are no longer accepted.

Dreamers have to renew their paperwork for permits to remain in the United States. A permit is valid for two years. Anyone in the programme whose permit expires between now and March 5, 2018 must apply for a new permit before October 5, 2017.

After March 5, deportation efforts are likely to focus on criminals and not law-abiding Dreamers.

On September 5, The Daily Wire reported:

Trump is already promising not to implement immigration law in six months. That means this whole strategy is designed as a bluff to get Congress to legitimize DACA, and throw in funding for the wall as a sop to Trump’s immigration hawk base. In fact, as Politico is reporting, White House sources are saying Trump might leave DACA in place in six months if Congress doesn’t act.

The article concluded:

The odd thing about Trump’s policy here is that he had a far easier one available, as Byron York of The Washington Examiner points out: he could have simply pulled the Obama strategy on same-sex marriage by waiting for attorney generals to sue over DACA, then refuse to defend DACA. That would have avoided this brinksmanship while ending up with the same policy. Then Trump could bargain in good faith with Congress over DACA if he wanted to, without any bluff at all; even Democrats would see that DACA wasn’t long for the world and be forced to the negotiations table.

Lawsuits are being filed, including this one:

Why people are upset

DACA forces taxpayers to foot the bill for Dreamers and their families:

On the other hand:

Then there is the perspective from this legal immigrant — a Marine — who came to the US from Italy when he was two years old. He says — rightly — that every immigrant should follow the lawful process to enter the United States:

Amnesty has not worked in the past. Ronald Reagan gave amnesty at one point during his tenure in a bargain with the Democrats. The Democrats did not fulfil their part of the deal regarding workplace enforcement and border security. Bush II also gave an amnesty. Now here we are with DACA.

On September 8, Breitbart reported that the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner was working out possible deals with Democrats earlier this year, as an Illinois senator explained:

Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Democratic Senator, spilled the beans in an interview with Reuters, where he described how he worked with  Jared Kushner and liberal Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham to promote the DACA amnesty in April and July …

Kushner also arranged phone calls between Durbin and then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who now serves as Trump’s chief of staff.

On September 6, Trump took questions from the media about his meetings with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer (D-NY):

Q Mr. President, what do you say to those who say there are mixed signals coming from the White House over DACA?

THE PRESIDENT: No mixed signal at all. Congress, I really believe, wants to take care of this situation. I really believe it — even very conservative members of Congress. I’ve seen it firsthand. If they don’t, we’re going to see what we’re going to do.

But I will tell you, I really believe Congress wants to take care of it. We discussed that also today, and Chuck and Nancy would like to see something happen, and so do I. And I said if we can get something to happen, we’re going to sign it and we’re going to make a lot of happy people.

Q Do you want a pathway to citizenship for those DACA recipients?

THE PRESIDENT: That’s going to be discussed later, but we want to talk about legal right now. We haven’t discussed that.

Q What did you mean when you said you wanted to revisit the issue in six months?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re going to see what happens. I want to see what happens in Congress. I have a feeling that’s not going to be necessary. I think they’re going to make a deal. I think Congress really wants to do this.

Q And what would you like to see, Mr. President, in legislation?

THE PRESIDENT: I’d like to see something where we have good border security, and we have a great DACA transaction where everybody is happy and now they don’t have to worry about it anymore because, obviously, as you know, before, it was not a legal deal. It was a deal that wouldn’t have held up and didn’t hold up. And even President Obama when he did it, when he signed it, he said this is obviously not something that’s — he called it short-term.

I’d like to see a permanent deal, and I think it’s going to happen. I think we’re going to have great support from both sides of Congress, and I really believe that Congress is going to work very hard on the DACA agreement and come up with something.

In the early part of the 20th century, immigration was also a hot topic. In fact, immigration slowed to a trickle between 1921 and 1965, when, under Lyndon B Johnson, it resumed in earnest with the amended Immigration and Nationality Act.

All the belligerent immigration demands being made now in the United States would not be tolerated in other countries — especially south of the border.

I wonder what Nancy Pelosi is thinking today.

Sunday, September 17, 2017 was Constitution Day in the United States.

Some states and universities are holding special events this week to celebrate and educate Americans on the finest written work in the world other than the Bible.

I had not heard of Constitution Day until I saw someone tweet about it on a conservative site, but it has been around since 1911, starting in Iowa. Before 2004, it was also known as Citizenship Day.

It is disappointing to see that the late Senator Robert Byrd, a former KKK higher-up and Hillary Clinton hero, was responsible for this great celebration of freedom. Even broken clocks are right twice a day:

The law establishing the present holiday was created in 2004 with the passage of an amendment by Senator Robert Byrd to the Omnibus spending bill of 2004.[3] Before this law was enacted, the holiday was known as “Citizenship Day”. In addition to renaming the holiday “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day,” the act mandates that all publicly funded educational institutions, and all federal agencies, provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution on that day.[4] In May 2005, the United States Department of Education announced the enactment of this law and that it would apply to any school receiving federal funds of any kind.[2]

It is celebrated by those on the Left:

As well as the Right:

Events are being held around the country, including Mississippi, Illinois and North Carolina.

Educating America’s youth about the Constitution is required by law:

The Constitution was carefully put together over several months. There were quarrels, but, through the grace of God, America’s Founding Fathers arrived at a work of genius:

This is what the Founding Fathers devised for the new Great Republic:

These are some of the best-known Amendments:

Upholding the Constitution relies on the support of the American populace:

Yet, over the past few decades, many Americans have become distracted by bread and circuses:

The Daily Signal, referenced by the Heritage Foundation, points out:

our textbook description of American government conceals the reality of the administrative state. Most of the rules that govern our behavior are made by administrative agencies, not by Congress. Administrative agencies also investigate, prosecute, and enforce violations of these rules …

For several years, Congress has taken a closer look at reforming this administrative state that has grown up around the Constitution and threatens its core principles. But thus far, very little has been completed.

The path back to constitutional government will be long and difficult from this Constitution Day, but many good ideas have been offered for bringing our administrative behemoth back into the constitutional framework.

It is the responsibility of Congress to rein in the administrative state and begin the slow, arduous task of rebuilding constitutional government.

This man is correct:

This student understands:

However, too few care.

In many quarters, ‘patriot’ has become a dirty word:

Some think the Constitution is sexist or racist, however, nothing could be further from the truth. This short video is excellent at explaining what various amendments actually say:

It is vital that the US Constitution be upheld in all three branches of government — executive, legislative and judicial:

For more information on the US Constitution and Constitution Day, see #ConstitutionDay, Presidential Trivia and the National Archives.

Hillary Clinton’s new book, What Happened, is one of those tomes that will appeal only to her fans.

I heard Boston’s Howie Carr discussing it this week on his radio show. He said she blames everyone but herself for her loss. He also suspects it was probably ghost-written.

Carr picked up heavily on her paternalistic accusations of male Trump supporters forcing women — daughters, employees, etc. — to vote for the Donald. Howie said he did not tell his daughters how to vote. They had already made up their minds to vote for Trump. He added that he did not tell his sidekick Grace Curley how to vote, either, which she duly confirmed. However, Grace did say that Howie put the frighteners on one of her female friends in the run-up to election day, predicting all sorts of terrible things with a Hillary victory.

Rob Crilly reviewed the book in The Telegraph on September 13. Excerpts follow (emphases mine below):

What happened, it turns out, was not that Mrs Clinton was a flawed candidate with an uninspiring campaign, but that she was the victim of a world that wasn’t ready for her. And fake news, Rupert Murdoch, Vladimir Putin, Julian Assange, the New York Times and above all James Comey, the then FBI director, were “what happened”.

Mr Comey, you remember, was in charge of probing the homebrew email server that Mrs Clinton had used as Secretary of State. Just 11 days before the election, he announced he was reopening the investigation ensuring a slew of negative headlines at a crucial moment. “Even if Comey caused just 0.6 percent of Election Day voters to change their votes, and even if that swing only occurred in the Rust Belt, it would have been enough to shift the Electoral College from me to Trump,” writes Mrs Clinton.

We’ll never know the impact but I’m happy to imagine the intervention would have caused a 0 percent shift if she and her media team had got out ahead of the controversy, instead of going into a defensive crouch for months beforehand and avoiding legitimate questions.

It all smacks of the entitled status that so turned off voters. Throughout the book are reminders of the Clintons’ world: the hobnobbing in the Hamptons and the billionaire friends from the dotcom world.

Just so.

That is a big reason why a lot of Democrats turned to Trump.

Which reminds me:

And let’s not forget:

The Telegraph has resumed allowing comments on some of their articles. Greatly appreciated. The one dated 13 Sep 2017 1:03PM is excellent:

Bill and Hillary signed up as a double act years ago to fleece the world and hoover up whatever power, influence and money they could obtain together.

So Bill’s infidelities were just grist to the mill as long as the devious money making schemes from Whitewater to the Clinton Foundation continued to provide the lifestyle and influence which they felt was justly due to them AND they stayed together.

The only surprising aspect is that they both thought they could go on pulling the same strings and stunts for ever and the public would continue to be mesmerised by their ‘charm’ and political know how.

As they now know all good things must come to an end.

Exactly. Why it took so many decades for Americans to see that still mystifies me. And those who saw it during the 2008 election campaign — when she rolled over for Obama in order to get a place in his cabinet — dumped the Clintons for good. More realised how awful she was during the subsequent eight years.

This dissatisfaction with the Democrats is one of the reasons the US has had a significant increase in independent voters during the past few election cycles.

On the Trump side of the equation, the bright sparks at The_Donald are banding together to buy Trump’s Great Again (formerly Crippled America) in order to topple Hillary from the No. 1 spot on Amazon. Trump’s book was 16th on Tuesday, September 12 but No. 1 in the Movers and Shakers category.

One of The_Donald’s commenters is going to send a copy of Great Again to Hillary at the Hillary for America address in New York.

The Daily Caller picked up on this:

Their article provides the excerpt:

“It was like quicksand: the more you struggle, the deeper you sink. At times, I thought I must be going crazy. Other times I was sure it was the world that had gone nuts,” Clinton wrote. “Sometimes I snapped at my staff. I was tempted to make voodoo dolls of certain members of the press and Congress and stick them full of pins. Mostly, I was furious at myself.

And that was where the fury should have stayed. There should not have been a book, either, because Hillary has enough money.

And, in closing, to show how greedy she is, she is actually charging people to attend her book signings. Who does that? High-profile authors, it seems.

As if that weren’t bad enough, she’s charging in Canada as well.

On August 31, Fox News reported:

For $2,375.95 (or $3,000 in Canadian dollars), Clinton fans in Toronto can obtain a “VIP platinum ticket” for her Sept. 28 talk. That ticket includes two front-row seats, a photo with Clinton backstage and a signed book.

For the same price, VIP tickets are also available during Clinton’s upcoming appearances in Montreal and Vancouver.

The steep ticket prices have not gone unnoticed in the publishing industry.

“It is standard for high profile authors to do book tours that sell tickets to events, but Clinton’s tour takes it to a new level of greed,” an industry source told Fox News.

I hope we get an update in a few months’ time. It would be marvellous to discover that few people attended.

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.

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.

In reading about Hurricanes Harvey and Irma last week, I was surprised to find that they originated in West Africa.

So have 85% of other US hurricanes.

I wondered why I missed that in my primary and secondary school science classes in the late 1960s through the mid-1970s. Surely, I would have remembered such a strange fact.

If you are like me and in this same age group, the discovery was made after our time.

How hurricanes develop

Researchers did not discover the African origin until sometime in the 1970s. It probably took another several years for it to be verified and included in the science textbooks.

NASA states that several factors must be in place for tropical storms and hurricanes to occur:

For hurricanes to develop, specific environmental conditions must be present: warm ocean water, high humidity and favorable atmospheric and upward spiraling wind patterns off the ocean surface. Atlantic hurricanes usually start as weak tropical disturbances off the West African coast and intensify into rotating storms with weak winds, called tropical depressions. If the depressions reach wind speeds of at least 63 kilometers (39 miles) per hour, they are classified as tropical storms. Hurricanes have winds greater than 117 kilometers (73 miles) per hour.

The African connection

More recently, over the past decade, research has continued into West African storms. This helps not only Africans but also people from countries in the western Atlantic affected by these deadly events as they travel across the ocean.

In 2002, the international African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) project began. In 2006, NASA announced their research in West Africa between August and September that year, part of the AMMA effort:

in the Cape Verde Islands, 563 kilometers (350 miles) off the coast of Senegal in West Africa. This campaign is a component of a much broader international project, called the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analyses, aimed at improving the knowledge and understanding of the West African Monsoon.

Researchers will use satellite data, weather station information, computer models and aircraft to provide scientists with better insight into all the conditions that enhance the development of tropical cyclones, the general name given to tropical depressions, storms and hurricanes. This research will help hurricane forecasters better understand the behavior of these deadly storms.

“Scientists recognize the hurricane development process when they see it, but our skill in forecasting which weak system will intensify into a major cyclone is not great,” said Dr. Edward Zipser, mission chief scientist, of the University of Utah, Salt Lake City. “That is why NASA and its partners place a high priority on obtaining high-quality data for weak disturbances, as well as those already showing signs of intensification.”

In August 2007, the Herald Tribune followed up on the research:

“We’re still in that exploratory phase but I think it’s a gold mine,” said Jeffrey Halverson, an associate science professor at the University of Maryland.

About 70 “waves” are born off the coast of Africa every season, but only about 10 to 15 of them become tropical storms or hurricanes. Among them were hurricanes Andrew and Katrina.

“One of the questions that has haunted meteorologists is why some of these waves turn into hurricanes and others don’t,” said Halverson, who worked with NASA on an Africa project last fall.

“It’s one of nature’s last little secrets with regards to hurricanes. We were given lots of clues.”

The Herald Tribune explains more about NASA’s activities (emphases mine):

NASA set up weather stations on Cape Verde, just off the coast of western Africa, and followed the storms in airplanes across the Atlantic Ocean, using new instruments to gauge moisture and air flow.

The team worked with scientists from the National Hurricane Center, who used airplanes to trace the effect of African dust clouds on storms. The dust clouds are thought to stop storm formation but are still not factored into forecasts.

Another group of scientists launched into the air hundreds of tiny balloons, each filled with a sack of weather meters engineered to drop over the storm twice a day and take readings over more days than ever before.

The experiments, completed last fall, uncovered data that scientists are just beginning to mine for conclusions. The first discoveries are expected to be published in the next six months, but a preliminary look is promising.

The balloons, called “driftsondes,” proved for the first time a deeper layer of moisture in the storms. It was something scientists had a hunch about, but did not know for sure until now. Knowing the information is reliable will allow them to make a more accurate forecast.

“The middle of the ocean has been an area where we haven’t been able to check models, so sometimes there’s a high false alarm rate,” said David Parsons, a scientist from the National Center for Atmospheric Research who worked on the project. “In this case we found out that the model was pretty good.”

Remember driftsondes, because they have been showing up in tweets and forecasts about Irma.

This research is just as important to Africa as it is North America. West Africa has suffered its share of hurricanes over the years. Wikipedia has a full list, divided into 20-year periods.

Interestingly, the number of the storms was approximately the same in every period, which should (but won’t) put paid to climate change hysteria.

Some of the storms that affect West Africa, like Hurricane Beryl (1982), also cross the Atlantic.

The Sahara — sand and dust

Along with the moist climate of West Africa is the Sahara Desert factor. The combination of the moisture and dryness can affect hurricanes.

Before I get to that, did you know that African sand can travel across the Atlantic and create sandstorms in Florida? Talk about a small world!

As for dust, the 2006 NASA announcement stated:

During the field campaign, scientists hope to get a better understanding of the role of the Saharan Air Layer and how its dry air, strong embedded winds and dust influence cyclone development. The layer is a mass of very dry, often dusty air that forms over the Sahara Desert during the late spring, summer, and early fall and usually moves out over the tropical Atlantic Ocean.

As part of looking at the Saharan Air Layer, scientists want to better understand dust’s effect on clouds. Some evidence indicates that dust makes it more difficult for rain to form. Cloud models need to account for any such effect, so measurements of cloud-droplet concentrations and size in clean ocean air and dusty air from the Sahara need to be made.

The Herald Tribune spoke with:

Jason Dunion, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center who is studying the effects of African dust on storms, calls it “learning what makes hurricanes tick.”

In 2014, the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) explained how the Sahara Desert contributes to storm formation.

It sounds paradoxical to connect a desert with intense rainfall, but:

The role the Sahara Desert plays in hurricane development is related to the easterly winds (coming from the east) generated from the differences between the hot, dry desert in north Africa and the cooler, wetter, and forested coastal environment directly south and surrounding the Gulf of Guinea in west Africa. The result is a strong area of high altitude winds commonly called the African Easterly Jet. If these winds were constant, we would also experience fewer hurricanes.

However, the African Easterly Jet is unstable, resulting in undulations in a north-south direction, often forming a corresponding north to south trough, or wave, that moves westward off the West African Coast. When these waves of air have enough moisture, lift, and instability, they readily form clusters of thunderstorms, sometimes becoming correlated with a center of air circulation. When this happens, a tropical cyclone may form as the areas of disturbed weather move westward across the Atlantic.

The NOAA says that the waves from the African Easterly Jet occur all year round at two- to three-day intervals, however, it is only in the late summer and early autumn when they turn into cyclones. That is the time frame for hurricane season.

Furthermore:

Not all hurricanes that form in the Atlantic originate near Cape Verde, but this has been the case for most of the major hurricanes that have impacted the continental United States.

The Weather Channel site has an article from 2014 accompanied by illustrations of the African Easterly Jet and tropical waves. The article says:

During summer there is a persistent temperature contrast between the deep warmth over the Sahara and the cooler atmosphere over the forest and ocean to the south along the Gulf of Guinea Coast.

The result is a mid-level jet stream, strongest at about 10,000 feet, blowing from east to west toward the tropical eastern Atlantic Ocean.

Some hurricanes originating in Africa can reach the Pacific:

Hurricane Iselle, which hit the Big Island of Hawaii on August 8, 2014, was likely part of a wave that formed more than 8,000 miles away off of the West Coast of Africa and an example of the far-reaching influence the Sahara Desert has on our planet’s weather.

Please check out the NOAA map of the reach of these hurricanes starting off of Cape Verde.

The NOAA article concludes:

When it comes to hurricanes and hurricane preparedness, it’s interesting to know how a desert half a world away can influence the formation of severe weather on our coasts—and even parts of the Pacific Ocean.

A 2015 article from Nature World News has more:

Hurricanes form from three main ingredients: moisture, warm ocean temperatures, and the rotation of Earth. But what causes a hurricane to go from a few storm cells and atmospheric disturbances to a full blown storm? According to new findings published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, intense thunderstorms in Western Africa are actually in part to blame.

“85 percent of the most intense hurricanes affecting the US and Canada start off as disturbances in the atmosphere over Western Africa,” researcher Colin Price from Tel Aviv University said in a statement. “We found that the larger the area covered by the disturbances, the higher the chance they would develop into hurricanes only one to two weeks later.”

Focusing on hurricane season (June through November), Price and his team analyzed images taken by geostationary satellites, which orbit Earth at the precise speed of Earth’s rotation and take pictures of cloud cover every 15 minutes. Cloud cover is a good indicator if a hurricane is going to occur – the more clouds in an area, the larger the atmospheric disturbance.

Of course, not all of these weather disturbances turn into hurricanes:

only 10 percent of the 60 disturbances originating in Africa every year turn into hurricanes. And while there are around 90 hurricanes globally every year, only 10 develop in the Atlantic Ocean.

Pacific cyclones also have African origins

I was further amazed to read the Weather Channel article which says that nearly all Pacific cyclones originate in West Africa.

Incredibly, these waves pick up steam as they travel across Central America:

Not all tropical waves lead to development soon after they depart Africa. In fact, nearly all eastern Pacific tropical cyclones originate, at least in part, from African easterly waves. Many of these waves traverse the entire Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea without causing development until after crossing Central America.

You would think that crossing land would break their power, but this can increase it.

Why the Pacific coast of North America has fewer hurricanes

The Pacific coast of North America has very few hurricanes. Whilst there are exceptions, such as the aforementioned Iselle — which originated in Africa — the conditions for those originating off the Pacific coast are largely absent.

First, the climate is cooler. Secondly, the wind direction — east to west — obviates such an event. Thirdly, the water temperatures off North America’s Pacific coast are much cooler than those in the Atlantic.

The Scientific American asked NOAA researcher Chris W Landsea (appropriate name) about this. He replied:

Hurricanes form both in the Atlantic basin, to the east of the continental U.S. (that is, in the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea), and in the Northeast Pacific basin, to the west of the U.S. The hurricanes in the Northeast Pacific almost never hit the U.S., however, whereas the ones in the Atlantic basin strike the U.S. mainland just less than twice a year on average.

There are two main reasons for this disparity. The first is that hurricanes in the northern hemisphere form at tropical and subtropical latitudes and then tend to move toward the west-northwest. In the Atlantic, such a motion often brings the hurricane into the vicinity of the East Coast of the U.S. In the Northeast Pacific, the same west-northwest track carries hurricanes farther offshore, well away from the U.S. West Coast.

The second factor is the difference in water temperatures along the U.S. East and West coasts. Along the East Coast, the Gulf Stream provides a source of warm (above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, or 26.5 degrees Celsius) waters, which helps to maintain the hurricane. Along the West Coast, however, ocean-surface temperatures rarely rise above the lower 70s F. (the low 20s C.), even in the middle of summer. Such relatively cool temperatures do not provide enough thermal energy to sustain a hurricane’s strength. So the occasional Northeast Pacific hurricane that does track back toward the U.S. encounters the cooler waters of the Pacific, which can quickly reduce the storm’s strength.

The magazine asked Kerry Emanuel from MIT’s Center for Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, who added this information about central Mexico:

In the eastern Pacific region, one has to go all the way down to the central Mexico coastline to find water warm enough to sustain hurricanes. This warm water lies well within the belt of easterly winds, so almost all the storms that form there move away from the coast, toward the west. By the time those storms recurve, they are usually many thousands of kilometers west of the coast of North America.

A few storms recurve right next to the coast. Some of these make it as far north as Baja California and can strike land with hurricane-force winds. But to make it all the way to the U.S. West Coast, the storms have to traverse a long stretch of ocean water that is far too cold to sustain hurricanes. Occasionally, tropical storms do strike coastal southern California. By the time they do, they have lost their hurricane-force winds, although they may still bring with them very heavy rainfall that can cause extensive flooding.

More on hurricanes tomorrow from a 2017 article.

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.

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