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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 1980

Triple Whammy on the Atlantic Basin – horrors in the alphabetical order

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London...

Just as Hurricane Irma continues with its relentless pummelling in the Caribbean, while setting its sight on Miami, Florida, the people, who had already been severely battered in the region, can hardly look forward to a let-up, when two more storms, which have been looming over the regional skies, have finally grown into hurricanes.

Hurricane Jose has progressed into category 4 on Friday with maximum wind speed up to 250 km/hour, about 500 km east-southeast of the Northern Leeward Islands at 5 p.m. ET. Hurricane Katia, meanwhile, is in the Gulf of Mexico with maximum sustained winds over160 km/hour and is expected to make landfall in Mexico in the early hours on Saturday.

As far as Hurricane Irma is concerned, thanks to the advances made in science and technology, the authorities in the region managed to evacuate people in time that in turn accounts for the relatively-low death toll, despite the ferocity of the storm.

When it comes to predicting the exact path of the storms, however, two major mathematical models failed to gauge it in advance – even after the hurricane made landfall. The tracking could not be any better with the other two hurricanes either.

The countries that got a direct hit, however, are beyond recognition with 95% of the infrastructure and buildings in ruins; add this to the income loss, the economic cost will run into billions, even among the moderately affluent countries.

The presence of three powerful hurricanes simultaneously in the Atlantic Basin is rare; it happened in 2010, though. The notable difference this year is the wind speed of the hurricanes that exceeds 240 km/hour, which, according the weather forecasters, is unprecedented.

The following animation that shows the three hurricanes, was taken from a model at 23:00 GMT on Friday:

storms

The rapid growth of the power of the three hurricanes has been fuelled by the warm waters in the Atlantic, while providing them with vast amount of energy – and the water in vapour form too, to be dumped on the islands that bear the brunt of destruction by the strong winds.

The potential destruction of the trio – Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Jose and Hurricane Katia – comes in three forms: life-threatening winds, storm surges and rainfall hazards.

With three months to go before the hurricane season in the Atlantic ends, there is no guarantee that the people in the region will see the back of them yet.

Hurricane Irma, with the size of its eye being equal to the size of France, displayed another distinct phenomenon along its path of destruction: it grew itself by the very water it dumped on the land, due to its slow motion across the skies; as a result, it grew in both intensity and size.

Scientists brand Hurricane Irma as one of the deadliest that ever struck the region on record.

Although, it was weakened to category 4 in the early hours on Friday, it has regained its strength and has been reclassified as category 5, when it moves towards Florida.

The presence of two powerful hurricanes simultaneously over the Atlantic Ocean has triggered off the biggest ever mass evacuation in the US history; it has prompted President Trump to convene a special cabinet meeting to map out a strategy to deal with the impending disaster.

The meeting comes in the wake of an unusual development, in which President Trump surprised both sides of the political divide on Thursday - by striking a deal with the Democrats in order to increase the Federal funding for disaster management, which didn’t go down very well with the ideologically-stubborn Republicans.

In anticipating the looming disaster that could potentially wreak a three-pronged havoc, the Americans seem to be united in a collective spirit to face it, while temporarily abandoning the obvious divisions on many fronts.

The political divisions, however, have not completely disappeared: ardent climate change enthusiasts, for instance, attribute the triple whammy on President Trump’s resistance to endorse climate change – a form of divine wrath; a few of President Trump’s fiercest critics meanwhile, tweet by saying that his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida should take a direct hit!

Despite the wave of anxiety, coupled with uncertainty that sweeps across the land, the Americans have not lost their ability to come up with creative things to deal with the boredom and fight the frustration.

A man, for instance, has come up with a pastime, Shoot at Hurricane Irma, encouraging fellow gun owners to shoot at the storm when it hits Florida; he has attracted over 46,000 on his Facebookpost, who are prepared to do just that.

All in all, the Americans will ride out the storm in due course as they have the resources for a recovery. Unfortunately, the counties that bore the brunt of the devastation in the region that are not wealthy will take years, if not decades to come to terms with the disaster of this magnitude.

- Asian Tribune -

Triple Whammy on the Atlantic Basin – horrors in the alphabetical order
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