Thursday, September 7, 2017

The impact of Irma on Roanoke, Lynchburg , Danville and Blacksburg

So, the blog has been dusted off for Irma. I'm a shameless winter guy but this is a big deal event in some areas and worth sharing ideas about. If you are reading this blog, again this is a discussion for Lynchburg, Danville, Roanoke and Blacksburg region.

Key phrase for our region:
Know the difference between disruptive and catastrophic.

Harvey was catastrophic in 2 ways.

1. The landfall region was horrible. Stormchaser iCyclone was in that region noted Click here for Harvey Landfall
2. The flooding was caused by the lack of movement and 30-50 inches of rainfall over a large region including Houston Metro.

Irma has been and will be catastrophic in a large area. Most have already viewed the footage from St. Martin and Barbados which are humanly horrific and hard to watch.

The track that is possible of destroying the more islands, avoiding Hispaniolia and Cuba as it gets a little stronger over the warmer water, landfall near Miami, then head due north just off shore (note the slight curve of the coast that could allow a due north track to get just off shore). This allows the eyewall scrape almost the distance of the eastern Florida coastline, a short timeover water before a final landfall in South Carolina region. Adding, a large storm like this has an expansive wind field and a larger storm surge. Most of that region will experience a catastrophic event.

Meanwhile, we don't really know what  the impact will here because the track has yet to be determined this far north.

Worse Case scenario: Irma Tracks from Landfall in SC to a Point near Martinsville/Galax area. most of the region sees 2-6 inches of rain and wind gust could reach 70mph, especially nearest the storm and the highest elevations.

In that case, we see some flooding, a good amount of power outages and life is disruptive a few days to maybe a week. It may be a challenge to get a hot meal, some power outages, local flooding in flood proned areas, but nothing remotely close to what we have noted in the islands so far  or what will happen over the those who get the direct impact of a Cat 4 or 5 system. In our region, Tropical Storm conditions are a worst case scenario.

Current trends have been a secondary landfall in South Carolina and a westward movement that keeps the worst away from us. We'd see winds up to maybe 30mph and under 2 inches of rain.

We could also have a mid track that meets those conditions in the middle, with up to 4 inches of rain and wind gusts up to 50 mph.

 Point being, it's always smart to check flash lights , candles and batteries. It is always smart to have some non-perishables and keep some water bottles handy in our region of Western Virginia.  Even if this event isn't a big deal, you are protected agains a future ice storm, derecho and even zombie outbreak. However, there is little or no chance of a catastrophic event here. In a worst case scenario, we have up to a week of smaller disruptions in smaller areas.

Supporting my point that we wont have a catastrophic event are the local observations from Fran in 1996. Our highest winds were gusts to 36 and 6 inches of rain total. Rain and winds at 30mph is a lot more intense then one would recall and I lived in a second story apartment with cheap windows and the wind pushed the rain over the top of the window and leaked in that way. But, by 2 pm the sun was out and I went to the J Crew sidewalk sale in Forest.

Summary: Those in the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Florida will have a horrific and life changing event.  Failure to head warning will have significant consaquences including loss of life. 

In our region, in a worse case scenario we have a disruptive event. At this point, we don't have enough information for a "exact" forecast at this point. 
I'll throw another update or two out there in the next few days.