“Andrew was a small and ferocious Cape Verde hurricane that wrought unprecedented economic devastation along a path through the northwestern Bahamas, the southern Florida peninsula, and south-central Louisiana. Damage in the United States is estimated to be near 25 billion, making Andrew the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history1. The tropical cyclone struck southern Dade County, Florida, especially hard, with violent winds and storm surges characteristic of a category 4 hurricane (see addendum on upgrade to category 5) on the Saffir/Simpson Hurricane Scale, and with a central pressure (922 mb) that is the third lowest this century for a hurricane at landfall in the United States. In Dade County alone, the forces of Andrew resulted in 15 deaths and up to one-quarter million people left temporarily homeless. An additional 25 lives were lost in Dade County from the indirect effects of Andrew2. The direct loss of life seems remarkably low considering the destruction caused by this hurricane.”
See The Tropical Prediction Center’s main page on Hurricane Andrew of 1992Well, some things just make you want to give your head a shake. After what we saw recently in Texas and what happened in Florida a while back, you’d think governments would take hurricanes seriously.
The situation: Hurricane Irma is forecast to hit Florida with much stronger winds and lick the whole eastern shore whereas Andrew just nipped the tip of Florida. Irma is forecast to strike with 150mph winds tapering to 120mph in the northern parts.
Why isn’t there wholesale evacuation happening? Instead, just low-lying parts are being told to evacuate as if the wind wouldn’t do a lot of damage. 150mph will destroy most light structures. 120 mph winds will kill lots of people.
The damage will happen one way or another. Many deaths can be prevented by evacuating systematically starting today. The highways should be made one-way streets to the north. Every bus, truck or plane should be moving people north. Even northern Florida is not far enough. People should avoid the east coast all the way to the Carolinas.
Instead, people are wasting time buying groceries and putting up plywood sheets. Half the highway lanes are being cluttered with fuel trucks bringing fuel to the south. Governments claim evacuation is not possible. They should make a plan and make it possible. Starting too late is avoidable.