UPDATE: Sept 7th, 2017
Hurricane "Irma" formed several days ago in the Atlantic Ocean, near the peak of hurricane season for this year. It's 11.40pm and 'she' is nearly upon us here in the capital already striking the southeast Bahama Islands with the strongest winds in the recorded history of storm meteorology, 185mph/297kmh sustained winds gusting 220mph. The islands further in the Caribbean have been devasted almost beyond recognition, some with 95% total destruction. It will take them years to heal.
The forecast track, however, seems favourable at the last minute for most of the central Bahamas, taking the 'eye' of the storm toward Cuba with a dramatic turn northward toward a strike on South Florida this Saturday and Sunday.
The winds are freshening here in Nassau as we see images from space of what could easily be termed 'The Perfect Storm". Tomorrow will bring near Tropical Storm winds to us with what will be a very fortunate near miss?
Many storms make the journey across only to swerve northeastward to die in the cooler waters of the northern Atlantic, yet every hurricane season there are a few who fuel themselves in the warm summer oceans to enter the Caribbean Sea. From here they are influenced by pressure systems flowing across the American continent, some pushing them away some steering them between differing gradients of 'highs' and 'lows'. Forecasters with modern computer systems being able to predict their paths more often with considerable accuracy.
In 1953, the United States abandoned a confusing two-year old plan to name storms by a phonetic alphabet (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie) when a new, international alphabet was introduced using female names for storms. The practice changed in 1978 when men's and women's names were included in the Eastern North Pacific storm lists. In 1979, male and female names were included in lists for the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.
Each season a list of twenty-one names are selected by an international committee of the World Meteorolgical Organisation. The only time that there is a change is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity and there are now about 80 names permanently 'retired' from the listing that started in 1953 through 2016.
'Matthew' made landfall in Haiti and eastern Cuba on Oct. 4 as a Category 4. This storm showed a form of 'intelligence' keeping it over open warm water and away from the mountainous regions of Hispaniola to its east and Cuba to the west, threading its way through the narrow channel between the two nations yet close enough for its eye wall to devastate both tips of each country.
As it passed through this region we suddenly saw the infra-red imagery from outer-space show an eerie picture depicting the face of a monster that was about to hit us with predicted 160 mph sustained winds hammering the Bahamas Oct. 5-6 as a Category 4 hurricane soon reaching near Category 5 as it hit Freeport, Grand Bahama.