Just 10 days after returning from the Texas coast where they rode out Hurricane Harvey’s
landfall, The Texas Tech University Hurricane Research Team from the National Wind Institute (NWI) is back on the road – this time headed to Florida to intercept Hurricane Irma.
Some of the team’s instrument platforms, called StickNets, were damaged in the intense
winds of Harvey, a Category 4 hurricane. According to research professor Brian Hirth,
the 100-plus-mile-per-hour winds were the strongest ever measured by a StickNet platform
since the StickNet program began a decade ago.
Now, after being repaired as quickly as possible, the StickNets may have even more
intense winds to deal with. The Category 5 Hurricane Irma, now the strongest storm
ever recorded in the Atlantic with estimated 185 mph winds, is expected to make landfall
in Florida as early as Sunday.
Brian Hirth, research professor for the NWI, email@example.com
- September is the peak month for hurricane season, so seeing this number of storms
is not unusual.
- The strength of these storms is what makes this hurricane season extraordinary.
- Harvey’s winds had the potential for much greater damage in a more-populated area.
- Irma’s expected landfall in Florida could pose a much greater threat for extensive
damage, but Florida is also one of the best-prepared states for hurricanes.
- “It’s been several years to maybe even a decade since we’ve seen the activity that
has threatened the U.S. in a hurricane season as we have now seen this season. The
fact that Harvey made landfall and now Irma is on its heels is not necessarily unusual,
especially as we head into September, which is the peak month of the hurricane season.
Many seasons in the past we’ve seen similar situations – 2005 comes to mind when we
had Katrina, Rita, Wilma, a string of storms, one after the other.”
- “This year is definitely above active, and the fact that we’ve had two major hurricanes
back-to-back, and by major, I mean Category 3 or higher, and the fact that Irma is
now a Category 5, a significant Category 5 hurricane, I think the back-to-back intensity
of both is rather unique.”
- “Harvey brought with it some of the strongest winds that the Texas coastline has ever
seen in a land-falling hurricane in recorded history. The wind damage associated with
Harvey was some of the worst that Texas had ever seen, and while the flooding that
occurred in Houston is going to cause the most damage by dollars or people impacted
from the storm, the wind damage could have been substantially worse if Harvey would’ve
made landfall in a major metropolitan area.”
- “There aren’t a lot of structures anywhere that are built for that type of wind. The
building codes are probably the most strict in the state of Florida, so if there’s
any state that’s ready for a significant hurricane, Florida is a state that is most
ready. But that type of wind is going to cause substantial damage no matter where.”
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