Monday, August 29, 2011


The word "hurricane" probably is derived from the Mayan "Huracan," a storm God. The name hurricane is used to describe a tropical cyclone at it most intense in the Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific. The term is not used in the Southern Hemisphere. I don't know why.
A tropical cyclone graduates to the status of a full blown hurricane after winds generated from the storm reaches or exceeds 74 miles an hour. Hurricanes are born from tropical depressions (an organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined, closed surface circulation with winds up to 38 MPH), which gain strength over an ocean and turn into tropical storms (an organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined, closed surface circulation with winds from 39 to 73 MPH). Once a tropical cyclone reaches hurricane intensity it is further referenced into 5 different categories: Category 1, with winds from 74 to 95 MPH and a storm surge of 4-5 feet; Category 2, with winds from 96 to 110 MPH and a storm surge of 6-8 feet; Category 3, with winds from 111 to 130 MPH and a storm surge of 9-12 feet; Category 4, with winds from 131 to 155 MPH and a storm surge of 13-18 feet; and Category 5, with winds from 156 to infinity and a storm surge above 18 feet.
The term "Storm Surge," refers to an offshore rise in the water level which is associated with low pressure weather systems like a tropical cyclone, primarily caused by high winds pushing at the surface of the water, hence the stronger the winds, the higher the surge. in 2005 Hurricane Katrina, for instance, created one of the highest storm surges on record at more than 25 feet, which of course facilitated the massive flooding of that city.
A hurricane is also characterized by its circular appearance (as seen from the Earth's orbit, or outer space) with a prominent "eye" at the center. The circular motion of the storm is a result of its dissipation of energy and what is known as the Coriolis effect, which is a result of the Earth's rotation, in the absence of strong steering winds (the winds in the Earth's atmosphere that affect the path of the storm, or its "track"). In the Northern Hemisphere this effect pulls the easterly winds at the northern latitudes of the storm toward the North Pole in a counter clockwise rotation. Storms of this nature in the Southern hemisphere are pulled in a clockwise rotation toward the South Pole (this is the same force that makes the water draining out of a bathtub in the northern hemisphere turn counter clockwise, and the opposite in the southern hemisphere).
The "eye" of a hurricane near its center is an area of sinking air, typically from 2 to 230 miles in diameter. The area within the "eye" can be either relatively calm and free from harsh winds, or violent depending on the characteristics of the storm. The "eye" can be clearly visible from space or aircraft, or covered with overcast.
The source of energy for these storms are the same as every other weather event, the Sun. Energy from the sun heats the ocean's water which causes evaporation and upward condensation. therefore, a tropical cyclone is a giant vertical heat engine supported by the mechanics driven by such physical forces as the rotation of the planet and gravity.

Continued condensation results in increased energy into the system converted into mechanical energy and higher wind speeds. The higher wind speeds and low pressure results in increased evaporation and more condensation. Released energy results in updrafts which increase the height of the storm, which further speeds condensation, which increases wind speeds, on and on. This results are what is known as a "positive feedback loop" wherein the storm sustains itself as long as it's energy source remains intact, which is warm ocean water. That is why hurricanes lose energy and power, and die out after making landfall... their energy source is withdrawn, and they dissipate.
Cyclonic storms are not limited to the planet Earth. The Great Red Spot which protudes in the southern hemisphere of Jupiter, the solar system's largest planet, is an example of a anticyclonic storm. It is still a cyclone but due to the colder temperatures experienced on Jupiter, and the characteristics of the storm itself, the Great Red Spot ignores the Coriolis effect, and rotates in a counter clockwise rotation while residing in the southern hemisphere. It's been around for at least 181 years and possibly longer than 346, and is large enough to contain two or three planets the size of Earth. The winds (made up mostly of hydrogen and helium gases) at the periphery of the storm reach as high as 268.5 MPH.
Hurricane season back here on Earth typically begins on June 1st, and lasts until the end of November. During this period the difference between temperatures aloft and sea surface temperatures are the greatest, with storm activity peaking around September 10th.
In the United States hurricanes are given names to help differentiate them from each other, and aids in warning the populace from an incoming system. For particularly destructive storms their names will be retired after the system dissipates. For example there will never be another "Hurricane Katrina."
At this time, as I write this at 3:45PM, Friday the 26th of August, 2011, a Category 2 hurricane is threatening the entire eastern seaboard of the United States.
It's name is Irene.

Last night I sent two Emails to my lovely ex-case manger Erin, warning her of Hurricane Irene's existence, and that she should warn her family in New Jersey that it would be coming their way, probably passing overhead on Sunday morning. She has not replied, possibly due to her not coming into work today... who knows? I certainly don't. However, the result remains that her lovely mother, Patricia, her sister Jesse, and all the rest of Erin's clan will go unwarned and face possible destruction.
All I can say is that I did all that I can to save them. As Randle Patrick McMurphy once said, in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "I tried, damn it! At least I did that."
In any case, Irene's on it's way. I will attempt to keep track of it's movement and what it does throughout the remaining lifetime of this hurricane. Hopefully it will veer out back into the Atlantic and miss the highly populated areas (it is estimated that 65 to 70 million people lie within storm's path) of the northeast coast of the U.S. all together, but that it not expected.
Irene is currently approaching the coast near the Carolinas, moving north at a leisurely 14 MPH. At it's present strength Irene is expected to generate 4 to 8 inches of rain, winds are now blowing at 100 MPH, with a possible storm surge of 6 to 10 feet.
Everybody says that this storm is "huge," "massive," "really really big," but try as I might, I've found no one who will put a number to this dimension. However, a crew member aboard the International Space Station said this today: "We are used to traveling long distances - but this storm stretches from Cuba to [the] Carolinas -- this is a huge scary storm."
From Raleigh, North Carolina to Havana, Cuba is approximately 900 miles. That's a big storm. (Rachel Maddow just told me Irene is about 510 miles in diameter. How does she know? Has she been out there with a tape measure? I don't think so).
If Irene retains this intensity, low lying areas along the east coast face significant flooding events, especially when the storm approaches at high tide (approximately 8:00AM and 8:00PM in New York). Appropriately, Mayor Bloomberg of New York City has ordered the evacuation of up to 250,000 to 370,000 people from lower Manhattan and other nearby areas that could face floods. Subways and buses will shut down tomorrow at noon. This is the first time in New York's history subways have been closed due to an approaching weather event.
10 states have declared a "States of Emergency," including New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina.
The United States Navy has sent its submarines and ships out to sea to better ride out the storm.
Incidentally, House Majority Leader, Eric Canter, in the face of the approaching Irene, still insists that emergency preparedness measures will be supplied to the people of Virginia, and the rest of the nation, only when matching spending cuts are found to offset the costs.
This man is clearly a sociopath and needs to be defeated in next year's election. Please, someone run against this clown!
Today, Friday the 26th, there has been almost constant coverage of the oncoming storm on the cable news stations (I don't know about the Fox Propaganda Network. I refuse to infect my television with it's presence. My T.V. has done nothing to deserve that).
The reason for this is due to the size of Irene, and the locations it is likely to affect. Like last Tuesday's earthquake on the East Coast, the folks who live in this region are unused to this type of event, thusly they may be somewhat at odds on how to react and take the necessary precautions required to remain relatively safe (an example. New York usually has only about 1 day of reserve food on hand. Food is usually trucked in on a daily basis, which is insufficient for emergency situations). Precautions that might be second nature to those who live further south, and experience these storms on a somewhat annual basis are new to those living further north. Indeed, hurricanes are rare on the Northeast coast. The colder waters and air currents usually tear storms like this apart.
However, hurricanes Bob in 1991, Gloria in 1985, and Donna in 1960 reached the Northeast. The 1938 storm called "The Long Island Express" or "The Great Hurricane of 1938" killed hundreds of people in New England.
This storm is a monster and should be taken very seriously. Exceptionally seriously.
So seriously that our President responded to it before the storm hit, rather than waiting 5 days after. What a welcome change. Speaking from Martha's Vineyard, where President Obama has been on a short vacation with his family, he addressed the nation, stating that he has been kept fully informed of the situation, that federal resources were in place, that citizens should listen to their local authorities for instructions, evacuate early if required... and get some bottled water and other supplies.
Martha's Vineyard lies in the expected path of Irene. The President has wisely chosen to cut his vacation a little short (he was going to leave on Saturday anyway), and left Friday afternoon. I don't know where he went, probably back to D.C., and hopefully the White House is hurricane proof.
Hurricane Irene proves that global warming is real and affecting current weather systems. I have no evidence to back up that statement, but I'll be like the right wingers who say anything they want without evidence without getting called on it by the media.
And I like to say it because it really pisses off the Tea Baggers and Republicans, and Koch brothers.
However, there are anywhere from 77 to 97 tropical cyclones a year worldwide, and the number of storms in the Atlantic has increased since 1995.
And I'll leave you with this while awaiting further developments; global warming, climate change, whatever you want to call it is real. And extreme weather systems like Irene will become more frequent and powerful, as well as other phenomena associated with the Earth getting hotter.
Like a house on fire, it doesn't matter if global warming is occurring due to man's activities, although the evidence is overwhelming. It doesn't matter a bit! The fire still has to be put out whether the fire was caused by someone playing with matches or a lightening bolt. And global warming has to dealt with whether we caused it or not.
We owe that at least to those who will come after us.

I'll sign off now for the moment, and have some nice tuna casserole for dinner.

10:00PM EST Friday, Winds and rain have been hitting the coast of North Carolina, off and on, for the last 4 hours. A lot of locals have opted to stay at home, tourists have been directed to leave, and they left. The local concern is of possible storm surge. 50 MPH winds were measured at Wrightsville Beach, N.C.

2.3 million were ordered to evacuate the East coast region, including 1 million in New Jersey, 315,000 in Maryland, 300,000 in North Carolina, 200,000 in Virginia and 100,000 in Delaware.
"This is probably the largest number of people that have been threatened by a single hurricane in the United States," said Jay Baker, a geography professor at Florida State University.

Sorry, fell asleep while watching "Matlock." Right now it is about 5:30AM PST, 8:30AM EST, and here's what the television and Internet is telling me about what has happened, and what is happening.

Hurricane-force winds first arrived near Jacksonville, North Carolina, around 6:15AM EST (74 MPH or more). The center of the storm made landfall at 7:30AM near Cape Lookout N.C., lumbering north still at 14 MPH.
Irene was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane during the night, but due to it's tremendous size, and the areas it is affecting, is considered extremely dangerous due to high winds, and flooding possibilities due to heavy rain and storm surge along low lying areas within Irene's path.
Wind and rain has knocked out power to more than 210,000 customers along the North Carolina coast.
President Obama has visited FEMA Headquarters to be briefed on the nation's emergency response readiness. So far he has declared emergencies for North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. 6,500 active duty troops are on standby. Thousands of National Guard troops have been activated.
10:00AM EST Report of a surfer dying at Virginia Beach, VA. As I watch MSNBCs coverage of the storm, I see more surfers in the water behind the poor soul making the report in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Morons.
NJ Gov. Chris Christi isn't happy with these surfers, or anyone else who gets near the beach. He has ordered evacuations of one million NJ citizens to higher grounds, but there seem to be several hundred individuals in Atlantic City who refuse to move.
So it goes.
For some reason these cable news networks think remote reporting by their correspondents are not authentic unless the reporters make their reports while standing outside in the midst of the heavy winds and rains. These men and women are getting the bejesus knocked out of them.
Wendy Miller and Eric Green got married on the boardwalk in New Jersey. All of us here at Joyce's Take congratulate them, admire their tenacity, and wish them well.
There are stories of tornadoes.
More reports of deaths come in. A man in Nash County NC was killed by a falling tree limb outside his home this morning. Yesterday a man died of a heart attack while installing plywood on his windows in Onslow County, NC., and third man is missing after either jumping or falling into the Cape Fear River Friday.
2:45PM EST report of 11 year old boy in Virginia killed after being pinned down by fallen tree in Newport News, VA.
At 3:37 EST I'm getting another report of a tree falling on a man in Virginia, and another surfer, in Florida, was standing in shallow water when a large wave struck and killed him.
Trees and surfers. Stay the F inside, and don't go near the water... like the reporters for MSNBC are doing.
New York City Mayor Bloomberg has ordered 300,000 people who live in possible areas of flooding to leave. These areas include Battery Park City at the southern tip of Manhattan, Coney Island and the beachfront Rockaways. Subways, and public transportation have now been shut down, which really affects the city as most New Yorkers don't have a car.
Some of these news anchors are asking what the expected cost of repairing damage due to Irene is expected to be. How can anyone know that at this point. Yet some have said 4.7 to 6 billion dollars would be a low estimate if Irene passes by New York City. If it hits New York, with resulting damage due to flooding, that estimate shoots up to around 35 billion.
The Red Cross is asking everyone, everyone around the nation to donate blood. I will next week.
My buddies at the old Salvation Army are ready and waiting to provide sandwiches and coffee to first responders, wherever they may be.
They're always doing that.
At 3:50PM EST the center of Irene was said to be centered on Fairfield N.C., and headed north.
4:55 PM, 506,372 people in Virginia are now without power. That's almost more than a half million.
5:15PM Another report of a child's death in a car accident in Goldsboro N.C.
At 6:32PM, the center of Irene is entering the state of Virginia, staying near the ocean as it continues to sideswipe the East coast of the U.S. The people of Norfolk, and other coastal cities in Virginia, are concerned about high tide storm surge, and the resulting flooding. That may happen in about an hour and a half.
Everybody is worried about storm surge.
7:30PM, clouds are now covering the skies over New York City.
One problem seems to be the speed in which the storm was moving. There isn't any. 14 MPH is really slow, only about 4.5 times faster than walking. The longer the storm hangs around the more damage is likely from wind, rain, and... storm surge.
"Someone tonight is going to get at least 10 to 15 inches," says NBC meteorologist Bill Karins
Oh my. I assume he was talking about rainfall.
Power outages, river flooding, beach destruction, city flooding, windows blowing out of high rise buildings in New York and Philadelphia (the higher the altitude the faster the wind apparently), is what Bill is worried about.
8:45PM A death in Chesterfield VA is confirmed. By 11:00, nine deaths would be attributed to Irene.
And by 11:00 New York City was shut down, the streets almost empty. A tornado alert is effect for the next six hours for NYC and Long Island, & DE, CT, NJ.
Approximately 2 million people are now without power, with more expected outages in New Jersey, and later in New York.
The port of Baltimore closed to all inbound and outbound traffic.
At 1:00AM EST, another death... this time in Maryland, is reported, making the total now 10.
The storm plods on, maintaining 81 MPH winds, gusts of 98 MPH, moving NNE at 16 MPH.
St Mary's Lake Damn in Maryland reported to be in danger of failing. Over 100,000 live in that county.

Sorry, fell asleep again while watching, "I Eat Your Skin," on "Elvira's Movie Macabre."
This is odd as Elvira usually keeps me awake no matter what she is showing, or rather, because of what she's showing... I don't know why.
At 9:00AM Sunday morning Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm, with winds hovering around 65 MPH. Many are upset that they downgraded the storm before it made landfall in New York City as this would have been the first hurricane to make landfall there since 1897, but those freaking meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center just had to downgrade it right before it landed.
Freaking meteorologists.
Still flooding did occur due to storm surge in parts of the city, including lower Manhattan, which includes Wall Street. If it will flush the greedy bankers and hedge fund managers, and speculators out of there then I'm all for floods. The more the better. However it seems that the New York Stock Exchange can run on generators, and everyone is expected back to work this morning.
The Holland tunnel, which lies between New York to New Jersey was shut down due to flooding, from New Jersey to New York was still open. The Lincoln Tunnel remained open in both directions.
Rivers in New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, and southern New York, are cresting due to surging. Pretty rainbows can be seen in PA.
One million people in Virginia are without power (including my cousin Kathy in Mt Vernon). 183,000 in Pennsylvania. 420,000 in New Jersey. Power could remain out for days.
High winds and rains were now hitting Boston and Bedford, Massachusetts.
Officials warned of the possibility of severe flooding over the next few days as runoff from the storm makes its way into creeks and rivers. This prompted the Mayor of Newark to emphasize the need to improve the nation's infrastructure, and I for one wholeheartedly agree.
The ceremony celebrating the "I Have a Dream," speech by Rev. Martin Luther King, was postponed, and the site of his memorial is indeed flooded to a degree. The mayor says there were no injuries or loss of life in Washington D.C.
Fortunately no reports of deaths have been reported in New Jersey, so it would seem that Patricia and Jesse have escaped destruction... this time.
The common wisdom is to stay inside Sunday as emergency workers get to work.
No one is heeding the common wisdom though, going out in Hoboken, NJ, for instance, folks are walking their dogs, looking around, getting hit by trees, etc. Oh yeah, the surfers are back.
Starbucks is open again in D.C., so everything must be okay.
Except for Al Roker who was reporting from the waterfront in Long Beach, New York. A sudden gust of wind blew him out to sea and he hasn't been heard from since. Everyone believes he is exceptionably buoyant however, and aren't too worried.
As of 4:30 EST 400,000 New Yorkers who had evacuated low lying areas are being allowed to return home. It may take a while though to get the subways up and running again.
"I think it's fair to say you're going to have a tough commute in the morning," Mayor Bloomberg said.
And as far as global warming goes all I can say is "This year has been one of the most extreme for weather in U.S. history, with $35 billion in losses so far from floods, tornadoes and heat waves."
Don't look for relief from worldwide drought, food storages, lack of available drinking water, increased pestilence and disease, and more extreme weather conditions, anytime soon.
Of course, the Republicans will now criticize President Obama for making such a big deal about this storm, despite Al Roker. The fact is no one knew what Irene would do or where it would go, or how much damage it would cause, or not cause (not even Michelle Bachman and Rick Perry with their direct connections to the almighty).
And Irene did cause a great deal of damage, and will continue to do so. At least 15 people have lost their lives during the storm (and those who may die or be injured during the clean up efforts). The nation seems to have lucked out with Irene (relatively). But we need to keep in mind, this is just the first hurricane of the season. Hopefully there won't be anymore.
I think I'll sign off now from this Hurricane Watch, because quite frankly, I need the rest.
Again, fortunately Irene was not nearly as destructive as it could have been. Part of that is due to the pro-active response from those agencies responsible for the safety of the public in emergency situations, and the foresight and diligence of the President of the United States.
I think we can all breath a collective sigh of relief.
Until the next time I bid you adieu.

Addendum: Monday morning, 7:05AM PST, Al Roker's back! I've seen him on T.V.!

And, at 10:53AM PST, I received word from my lovely ex-case manager, Erin, whose Internet had been knocked out undoubtedly due to Irene, and who is now back on line, passed this word along: "Somehow my family survived hurricane Irene without losing a single tree in their yard! Or electricity!"
All of us here at Joyce's Take are very pleased to receive this good news.

And finally, I am very pleased to report that my lovely cousin Kathy has had her power restored to her home at approximately 4:00PM EST.
She's says there wasn't much in the freezer anyway.
Well stock up cousin. You never know when the next hurricane is coming.
Or earthquake.
Or locusts.
Hey, it could happen.;_ylc=X3oDMTNoNTJhNDZoBF9TAzg0Mzk3OTMzBGFjdANtYWlsX2NiBGN0A2EEaW50bAN1cwRsYW5nA2VuLVVTBHBrZwMzYWNlN2M2Yi1jMjg1LTMzYjItYjliMS04YmQ3NDM3NTYzOTYEc2VjA21pdF9zaGFyZQRzbGsDBHRlc3QD;_ylv=3

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