Florida is located right next to warm and deep sea water; experiences very little wind shear; encourages rapid cooling of the air temperature, and easily hits the 80 degrees Fahrenheit. All these are conditions necessary for the formation of hurricanes.
Owing to Florida’s proximity to these preconditions for the formation of hurricanes, it has been on the receiving end insofar as bombardment by hurricanes is concerned. Indeed the State has experienced several hurricanes for as long as hurricane records started being kept in 1851.
Of all the hurricanes that have hit Florida, none comes even second in intensity as the Hurricane Irma which forms the basis of the proceeding discussions.
THE WORST HURRICANE IN FLORIDA
Irma, Florida’s most severe, catastrophic, and powerful hurricane started forming over the North Atlantic Ocean on August 30, 2017, somewhere near the Cape Verde Islands. It intensified rapidly over the next couple of days. From August 30, 2017, it mutated into a Category II Hurricane, then III, then IV, and finally Category V On September 4, 2017. The following is a breakdown of the hurricane.
Dates as a Category 5 Hurricane
As has been stated, it attained the Category 5 status on September 4, 2017. It retained this status September 9, 2017. During this time, it ‘scooped’ a lot of water that was in its path from the adjacent Atlantic Ocean. This water mixed with strong wind, and debris from the buildings to inflict untold damages to all that were nearby its path.
In total, the hurricane lasted 75 hours. It is the second longest lasting hurricane to hit Florida and the Caribbean regions since 1932 when Hurricane Cuba hit the area. That particular hurricane lasted a whopping 78 hours in total.
Sustained Wind Speeds
Throughout its lifetime, the hurricane managed to attain top wind speeds of about 185 mph (295 km/h). Only Hurricane Allen that hit the Gulf of Mexico region from August 5–9, 1980 has so far attained a higher speed than Irma. Its top speed back then was 190 mph (305 km/h). It nevertheless shares this record with three other hurricanes. These are Hurricanes Labor Day (September 3, 1935), Gilbert (September 13–14, 1988), and Wilma (October 19, 2005).
Highest Atmospheric Pressure
Other than top wind speeds, the hurricane also managed to attain high atmospheric pressure. Its highest pressure was 914 hPa (26.99 inches Hg). This high pressure gave it very destructive power indeed. It shattered virtually every building along its path, save for those that had more stable foundations. It is worth noting that several other hurricanes before it have managed to attain higher atmospheric pressure though.
Other Areas Affected
Apart from the US State of Florida, the hurricane affected several other regions within the wider Caribbean and North Atlantic regions. These are the Cape Verde Islands, Cuba, The Caribbean, U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, and so on.
In its 75-hour lifetime, the hurricane inflicted untold damages to property, death, inconveniences, and overall human suffering. Most residents of Florida, especially those who resided in the path of the hurricane had to flee the state or seek shelter in specially designated locations.
In total, 134 persons lost their lives to the hurricane. 73 of these persons died in Florida alone. The total damage to property that was inflicted by the hurricane was valued in excess of $66.7 billion.
Irma will go down the annals of history as Florida’s worst hurricane so far. It is interesting to note though that adverse weather phenomenon of these kinds are not entirely unavoidable. The blame goes squarely to the human greed. Irresponsible utilization of fossil fuels, wanton destruction of vegetation, and unchecked urbanization are chiefly responsible for such adverse weather patterns. It, therefore, goes without saying that for such issues to be prevented in the long run, a man undoubtedly has to tame his greed.