Irma La Douce She’s Not – Continued Commentary and Coverage

Update: As of Saturday morning, I decided to move this post forward, leave it up front for anyone who needs EI’s info or who wants to post photos. Email me at eos friday at optonline dot net if you want to put photos of the storm where you are.

Update 2 is at bottom of post, a video clip from MSNBC taken in the Keys Saturday evening.

Update 3: Sunday 11:47am Link here to many live webcams up and down both coasts. The one on Islamorada I couldn’t get to play – says I need Flash Player. All others worked. The Live Feed from Key West is pretty incredible.

NOTE: As of Sunday morning, comments are coming in from EarthImage, and others out there. Stay here for good information.
The literal translation of the play Irma la Douce is Sweetie, or Sweet but Hurricane Irma is anything but sweet. ALL my east coast Florida friends have left, email last night late from one old friend in Vero that he and his wife took as much as they could from the house and drove to a daughter who lives in Asheville NC. He said the trip was painfully long on I-95 and I-26, so many others taking the same route to exit. Glad he’s out.

Peter, I presume you are safe and sound in Atlanta? And you west coasters, Earth Image and Riverside Dog Walker, take care. The Weather Channel says you guys are not exempt.

Richard Branson hunkered down in a cement wine cellar on his Necker Island and is alive to tell the tale but said most of Necker’s buildings are destroyed. What will Barack and Michelle do next winter? Oh my.

Photos from St. Marteen are unbelievable – the famous airport over the beach and the hotels next to it, pretty much gone.

And downtown…

I watched the Weather Channel this morning early and heard old timers saying they expect Irma to be as bad if not worse than Andrew, 25 years ago. Even Lake Okeechobee is being watched from overflowing and flooding. I suspect Disney will shut down, if they haven’t already. Colleges are closed. What a mess.

That’s it so far on this gorgeous RI Friday, bright sunshine finally. Be safe out there if you are in Florida.

UPDATE 2. Saturday 7:40pm. Video from MSNBC on Islamorada. Says worst due from 8p tonight through noon tomorrow. Sorry audio is lousy.


101 thoughts on “Irma La Douce She’s Not – Continued Commentary and Coverage

  1. One of my Greenwich neighbors left this morning from HPN to go TO Florida. She’s on the 7:30 Jet Blue TO West Palm. I was shocked flights are going into Florida still. She has a house she wants to safeguard and when I asked her if it wasn’t too late now or unsafe, she shrugged. I don’t understand but it’s her house and decision, not mine. I think it’s an insane decision.

    1. Fights to Florida? I’m shocked too, unless residents here have elderly family in Florida they want to get out. I heard Geraldo say he got his 98 year old mother out of Miami up to family on Long Island. The question I’d have is once there, will there be spots on a flight out? I’d think not.

  2. Thank you for the post. You will be getting EI photos from the Gulf Coast. I have been tracking some of the hysteria-fomenting stampede-inducing tactics by our friends at the NBC/Weather Channel. With 20 Million residents, not all Florida can evacuate and there needs to be some practical wisdom on what to do. Storm graphics of surge covering the feet of studio anchors, while green screen tricks show houses and cars floating off the studio floor, is unnecessary and destroys clear thinking.

    Jen Carfagno in Charleston this morning said the full moon will exacerbate flooding there. Actually the surge timing there will occur, if at all, when the sun and moon are at 90 degrees from each other, the monthly minimum of tide range, a week after full moon. Storm Surge is repeatedly called water height over land. That is wrong. The surge is the elevation of water induced by low pressure rising over the astronomical level of tides by sun and moon. The surge of say 8 feet, if it occurs at low tide in L I Sound, where at the west end tide range is 8 ft, produces the normal elevation of a high tide. To make this mis-statement and then show a house inundated by 8 feet of flooding is highly irresponsible.

    Further, the FEMA SLOSH maps for tidal surge inundation are based on a 90 degree approach to the coast line. In Hurricane Matthew, the surge moved parallel to the coast, producing no energy run-up onto land. Stephanie Abrams looked ridiculous then at Jacksonville, ranting about huge surge, when by the tide station data she was standing next to, there was no high water at all.

    A safe operation to protect life is highly dependent on correct risk assessment, starting with evacuation zone mapping. For example, the Keys are mapped from west to east in declining priority, meaning Key West leaves first. It badly screws up safety and traffic management to put people on the roads out of order, and to do so by the millions. To put every body on the highways at once, after a general gas & order stampede has been induced by fear mongering, is reckless. Cool heads and calm rationality is needed.

    My wife and I are providing shelter to a number of people, but they came yesterday from trailer parks, even though the evacuation notice was through Sunday 8am for trailer parks, when the threat here near Clearwater starts. Thus they wasted their resources and ours for 2.5 days of beautiful September beach weather here. I am going for a swim in the Gulf to calm down.

    Blog on.

    1. Most excellent commentary. Agree 100% that the Weather Channel is Hysteria on Steroids. What’s her name Abrams said today that Florida would be without power for MONTHS. I stopped dead in my tracks hearing her say that. How irresponsible a comment.

      We look forward to your posts and updated commentary. Wonderful that you are taking folks in. Keep safe.

  3. We are in Atlanta. Thanks for the concern. We have a couple of older neighbors who refused to leave and that worries us a great deal. We offered to bring them with us to Atlanta but they said they made it through Andrew.

    Did you hear the story of a couple celebrating their 74th wedding anniversary – they are both over 100. His name is Harvey and her name is Irma.

    EI doing the right thing, as always. Good luck.

    1. Good news Peter, that you are away from the storm. I’m sad to hear that your neighbors decided to ride it out. I hope they are okay.

      No way, that story about Harvey and Irma is true or are you joshing me?

  4. Thanks, Peter. Glad you arrived safely. Florida has long been a winter haven for people of limited means living in mobile home and RV parks. These are hazardous area in winds above 40 mph, and building codes now require them to be anchored to the ground with roof straps.

    The problem in this storm with its great width of high winds is the inability to predict the exact track, and to know whether to order all mobile homes evacuated on the east coast, the Gulf coast, or both. Given the limited means of the subjects, emergency management means looking at the logistics of evacuation. Finally calls are being heard to limit the distance and go to the closest shelters, which open here at noon today.

    The hysteria caused a rush to the shelves of Walmart, even in Clearwater, as featured on TWC, the Weather Channel, depicting empty store shelves. The reality was less dire. Supplies of water, gasoline, bread and even peanut butter were exhausted by Tuesday, creating more panic. But with a shift east on Wednesday, everything was back to normal for a few hours.

    I have found that the most objective data, minus hysterics, can be followed at:

    1. A friend in Virginia driving on 95 south yesterday said she saw large convoys of power company trucks heading to Florida. From Tennessee, Massachusetts, and Delaware.

      Thanks for the NOAA link.

    2. Thanks so much for your no nonsense & factual hurricane info. I live on the SE coast of South Carolina but about 10 mi. inland. The local weather news has been nothing but “GO! , GO NOW!” & the reporting has consisted (for days, now) of what they admittedly claim is the worst case scenario . It’s no wonder people are in panic mode. I’m staying & am going to enjoy eating all the ice cream in the freezer in case the power goes out.

      1. I suspect all the GO NOW reporting is legalese for “if we told you to stay and you die, our jobs are gone”.

        Hope there’s cake or cookies to go with the ice cream. Keep us updated and let us know how you are when the storm has passed.

  5. Mike Seidel of TWC [, standing on a wide Florida beach, just said that the storm surge is factored into the tide level. I am shocked that a graduate of the great weather school at Penn State would continue to mislead. Surge does not vary by tide – it rides over the tide until it hits the land at whatever height the tide is at that moment.

    If you look at the real-time NOAA graphs in the link above, there is a green wavey line riding now steady around the 1 foot mark. That is the surge line. It does not go up and down with the tide. It is the deviation between the predicted astronomical tide controlled by sun and moon orbits, and the weather-induced actual tide – the surge due to falling pressure (sucks water up) or rising winds ( which blows water downwind).

    In Hurricane Matthew, this surge was a huge bore that rode the wind and sinking air pressure into the Carolina coast, by-passing Florida.

    1. EI, all of us learn so much from your posts. Thanks and keep them coming. Stay safe.

      I think you are right that the officials plan for the worst case, since their jobs are on the line if they plan for the most probable case and things turn out worse than that. And of course the media revels to have something like this to talk about as they have to fill the airtime somehow. I’m sure TWC and CNN love the spike in viewership during these periods.

      As I expected, Sarasota has as of 2pm issued mandatory evacuations for Zone A (that is me) and the barrier islands. Good news is that mandatory evacuation is to be completed by 8pm on Saturday, which is before the storm is slated to be here. Our plan is to see what things are like tomorrow morning, and call it then. I just read my elevation certificate. Garage base level is 6.5 feet and first finished floor is 11.2 feet. We are on a partial bay lot with a barrier island between us and the Gulf of Mexico. So the risk analysis is do we stay in our newly constructed concrete home with hurricane glass to ride out what is estimated to be a Cat 2 hurricane as it goes by us, or take our chances getting stuck in a car on the highway. Decisions, decisions.

  6. RDW-

    The news today is the big jump in surge for your county and mine. We have AE13 zone on our pool at elev 12 and AE12 against our garage, also at elev 12. We are in evacuation zone D (4th to go of 5), on the first rise of mainland on a dredged embayment facing west. We upgraded our hurricane shutters to the new Miami/Dade standards, and are staying put. I just finished lashing down the pool furniture in the garage.

    You can enter your address at and then go to their view web map product, and turn on hybrid base map. You will see your house and the adjacent flood zones. Your elevation certificate will list your flood hazard zone.

    If you are in AE12 like me with your floor below twelve, I would consider moving to higher ground for Sunday afternoon. Your nearest on-line tide and surge station is:

  7. The point of the prior Key West post above is to demonstrate the green line on the NOAA graphic of actual “storm surge” – in this case 3 inches. This effect is presently seen throughout the Gulf, due to high pressure on land over the southern US and low pressure over the Caribbean. It is un-related to Irma.

    I have heard so many experts say that storm surge is now measured over land that I did further investigation. The finding is that storm surge is now measured at NOAA tide stations like the Key West one in the link. Its official name is “residual”, referring to the difference between predicted tide and actual.

    It is “over land” only in the sense that the tide station is at the water/land interface. Therefore, the excess water of actual over predicted tide is “over land.”

    See my blog explanation of the NYC Battery Park station:

  8. Saw this tweet from FEMA. Don’t know if it’s bogus or good but thought I’d pass it along.

    My Florida family, east coasters, Jupiter, left two days ago. With grandma in tow, three dogs, two cats, a parakeet, they laughed that they should call themselves the Joads, their car looking a bit too much like the Grapes of Wrath. They are safe now in western NC, where many Floridians seem to have gone. They had a hard time finding a hotel.

  9. Alarms just went off all over. Zone B evacuation ordered for Pinellas County (St. Pete and Clearwater.)

    According to Pinellas Emergency Management, this zone is based on a 15 ft storm surge. I will be posting observations from the Pier 60 tide station at Clearwater Beach. Based on prior storms and observations of news reports versus this NOAA station, I expect a green line surge on the official graph to stay under 6 ft.

  10. To add a little levity to a serious storm, the signer for the deaf in this Rick Scott presser caught the attention of the media and its already going viral.

      1. Link love please. I am very nervous about my Islamorada bungalow acquired a mere ten days ago.

        1. That’s one Betty, but was taken earlier today. There’s another one around 5pm that is more violent.

          See my update in the post, video from Islamorada. I don’t know why audio is so weak. I had TV on loud enough. LSS, the man on left said they expect full force hurricane winds overnight.

        2. Thanks for posting that up. I get a sense the Navy will be moving as soon as the storm leaves the area to secure and assess the situation in the keys. I’m glad they’re there.

    1. Thanks so much for the update. We were thinking of you all day. We are hoping for the best for you too.

      Might this help?

    2. RDW: I was wondering what you’d do too. Thanks for letting us know you left. Forecasters telling us that Atlanta is going to get the tail end of Irma. Irony is we might have been safer staying in Miami.

      1. That is ironic Peter but I don’t think Miami will be unscathed. It doesn’t seem to be bearing the brunt but it will still get some high force winds. I’m glad you’re in Atlanta.

    3. Riverside: CBS live now in Sarasota. Calm before the storm. Looked like ghost town. Police barricading bridge to barrier island. Reporter talking about 8′ storm surge. We all hope you return to a dry home.

  11. Quiet in Clearwater this morning. Key West surge about 2.5 ft now winds at 75 mph.

    News Headlines: Surge 10-15 Ft across all of Florida
    Actuality: Water being sucked towards the eye by air pressure creates a dramatic drop around outside the circulation. There was a Bahamas video circulating yesterday with an empty seabed for as far as the eye could see. The surge at Ft Meyers now is negative two feet. I don’t think you will hear this in the media. That is the green line in this tide graphic:

    1. Thanks for the early morning update and facts facts facts.

      I’ve been up for 90 minutes or so and have been flipping through channels to see any Irma updates. Seems to be taking longer to come over the Keys than last night’s “experts” indicated. Is it unusual for the hurricane to be creeping so slowly?

  12. A hurricane is like a spinning top with wobble. It is moved by strong or weak upper-atmosphere steering currents. When those are weak, or non-existent as there were in Houston for a day or two, there is slow or no movement.

  13. Good morning, I tell you the stress of this is making me never want to buy in the tropics. Since you basically have to self insure, hubs figures there is a “big one” on average every 10 years at our community in the keys. So, if you spend $2M on your structure the annual cost is $200k plus dues, plus taxes, plus, plus….renting it is for now.

    Our community is lucking out as the shift west took us out of the direct path. (I have long felt the club is in a sweet spot. For some reason, there is often a turn, with no serious damage since Andrew. Wilma was a threat, but only minor damage incurred.) The president of the club sent out very alarming emails, until yesterday. Now it is being used as a refuge. The national guard and other rescuers are gathering there to be ready to help as the storm passes.

    Prayers for everyone along the west coast and lower keys. 🙏

    1. Is it stressful. The management of all the Keys clubs and communities surely are in panic mode this morning wondering what will be left after Irma passes.

      There are cases to be made on both sides of the coin for buying v. renting. We each do what we feel is right and hope for the best.

  14. Eye wall passes east of Key West.
    NOAA Tide Station Data:
    Top sustained winds at 60 mph (tropical force)
    Storm Surge less than 3 feet.
    It will not be reported this way.

        1. Some are saying not even as a 2. This morning early reporters are saying Cat 1. Depending on what channel I listen to, they are saying 3-5 million without power. Seems unbelievable to me so I don’t know how much of that number is hype. A TWC anchor predicted the outage number could go as high as 10 million. Hype much??? Geez. Stupid reporting.

  15. The eye wall passes west of Vaca Key, about 50 miles east of Key West.
    The passage lines up with low tide, so the maximum water height is only a foot or so higher than normal high tide.
    Sustained winds at 45 knots, gusting to 67.
    Did I mention it will not be reported this way.
    Data below is from the NOAA tide station, the only point at which surge measurement is possible according to NOAA.

  16. There is a tone of desperation in the reporting. Paul Goodhue MBC/TWC with “imminent landfall” IS reporting 100 mph and that stop signs will soon be snapped off at their base.

    The NOAA wind and tide station a few feet away from him is reporting sustained wind of 30 knots (BARELY SMALL CRAFT WARNINGS) and tide surge at minus 4.5 ft (still an extreme low tide.)

  17. Depends on the track. Surge now +3 ft on Atlantic Coast and falling. Minus 3 ft on West Coast and rising.

    My prediction is ………oops…..lost power.

    On UPS backuppower. My prediction: Max winds at Clearwater Pier 60 of 75 mph gusts. Just over Tropical Storm strength. Max surge of 6 ft., just a foot or so over our seawall, 5 ft below the pool.

  18. From National Hurricane Center NOAA:


    Hurricane Irma Discussion Number 46
    NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL AL112017
    1100 AM EDT Sun Sep 10 2017

    2. There is imminent danger of life-threatening storm surge flooding
    along much of the Florida west coast, including the Florida Keys,
    where a Storm Surge Warning is in effect. The threat of
    catastrophic storm surge flooding is highest along the southwest
    coast of Florida, where 10 to 15 feet of inundation above ground
    level is expected. This is a life-threatening situation.

    The reality fro NOAA Naples Tide Station:
    Check winds:

  19. I am not one to pull out the FAKE NEWS label quickly, but this is really getting to be an embarrassment.

    Mike Bettis in Naples calling Irmageddon.

    Outside my window: happy groups walking dogs, doing the normal Sunday afternoon stuff. Skies bright, rains at drizzle level, winds nil.

  20. North eye wall on top on Naples and Mike Bettis TWC now.

    He is reporting gusts 44mph, sustained at 25mph. That would be true.

    The open sky eye will be over him in 30 minutes. Sunny conditions, calm winds coming.

    Hope he reports a pleasant afternoon in Naples.

  21. Mike Bettis is in the north side eye wall. Reporting gusts to 57/now 50 mph and no damage. Blue sky about to open over him.

    I am beginning to wonder if the 6 million people under mandatory evacuation have a class action suit for their expenses and compensation for unnecessary displacement.

  22. 3:32 pm – Key West about to break out into post-storm clearing. Blue skies. Winds 34 knots (1 knot = 1.1 miles per hour.)

    3:35pm – Key Biscayne near Miami. Winds 43 knots gusting to 57. Surge 4 ft and falling. This seems to be the worst yet.

    3:37 pm – Mike Bettis TWC – Naples gusts to 60 (he says, his body says different) NOAA says winds at 24 knots at 3:24 pm. He says live radar is real time.. Radar says he is entering the eye. Visually, winds are dying.

  23. 3:40 pm -Mike Bettis TWC Naples- Wind dying and turning. Radar shows a double eyewall – storm seems to be falling apart.

    3:42 pm TWC report that National Weather Service NWS says “surge immenent.” NOAA tide station: Surge rises from minus 4.5 to minus 4 ft.

    3:43 pm TWC Dr Navarro in studio asks for hand wind gauge reading – MB: Reading gust of 60. Dr N: Any lighting? MB: No. Palms vertical. No flying debris. Dr N: Drier air has worked its way into core now. Likely to see falling winds.

  24. TWC have just doubled down on their 15 foot surge number for Naples and Fort Myers. Mike’s body posture suggests wind speeds of 25-30 mph

  25. 3:50pm Mike Bettis-TWC-Naples “Maybe the saving grace is the angle of approach. Otherwise the surge would be 20 ft.”

    3:52pm ditto -No tree damage. “The great thing about palms is they really take the wind.” (Not a broken branch or flying leaves in sight.)

    3:55pm Dr Navarro TWC – “The surge will arrive in 2 hours.” “We are estimating a 15 ft surge in Naples.”

    3:57pm Mike Bettis TWC “Power Companies estimate 10 million to be without power.”

    4:08 pm Earthimage radar observation. No SW quadrant to radar. Eye disappearing.

    4:09 pm Dr Navarro TWC “Naples is 15 minutes from blue skyes.”

    Official Weather at Naples Airport:
    9/10/17 1:53pm wind-NE 49 Gusts 71
    2:52pm readings N/A

    4:27pm Dr. Navarro TWC “Sustained winds 95 mph at Naples Airport.”

  26. 4:38pm ditto “We are within 15 minutes of seeing a change.” “The eyewall is wandering about.”

    4:41pm Dr. Brian Norcross TWC “I don’t know that you are going to get the eyewall.”

    NOAA Naples Tide Station data for storm surge:
    09/10/2017 15:54:00 EDT -4.71
    09/10/2017 16:00:00 EDT -4.76
    09/10/2017 16:12:00 EDT -4.09
    09/10/2017 16:18:00 EDT -2.70
    09/10/2017 16:24:00 EDT -1.81
    09/10/2017 16:30:00 EDT -0.99
    09/10/2017 16:36:00 EDT -0.30

  27. 5:26pm Steph. Abrams on the S. side of the Manatee River on the south side of Tampa Bay: to Mike Bettis “There is no back side of the eyewall.” (EI-She is at low tide now with a surge of minus 3.5 ft. Actual tide at Mean Low minus 2 ft.) SA: “I am afraid about water coming over the seawall.” (Power is on at both locations.)

    EI: I am only doing this for the entertainment value now. Florida Class Action Attorneys- Call me.

  28. 5:35 pm Dr Brian Norcross TWC ( now hawking his book on Hurricane Andrew) admits that with landfall and a large envelope of dry air being sucked into the eye, there is no symmetrical structure left to the storm and that there will be little post-eye surge on the West Coast of Florida.

    1. EI: Watching TWC for a few seconds, they are in Ft. Myers. Looks like some very high gusts of wind (85+). FWIW reader Old Timer emailed me to say she’s concerned about their home in Boca Grande/Gasparilla. Some of those fragile parcels like Boca Grande might see damage? What do you think? She added that she thanks you so much for your informative and spot-on live blogging efforts here today. I second that.

      Also, at this point, do you expect the storm to diminish enough that by the time it gets to Tampa-Clearwater, it will be a non-issue? Are you pretty much out of the woods?

  29. Not to minimize anyone’s actual damage, but all mobile homes and manufactured homes on the West Coast were ordered to be evacuated. It is known that this type of construction does not stand up to even a tropical storm force winds.

    Likewise for bad drainage issues, a passing storm can produce such ponding in the flat grades of a trailer park.

    I agree with evacuation of mobile homes in the direct landfall of a storm of this category. The issue is whether the emergency officials should have waited until Friday to call a more localized evacuation, spearing 5 million people being put out of their homes unnecessarily.

  30. I’m about to watch the Giants game but before I log off the blog, a hearty thanks to Earth Image for his terrific information. Much appreciated.

  31. Had to break away to see the Nadal vs Anderson match. So glad to see that you got the storm reporting right EI. What a fount of knowledge EOS continues to provide to her band of blog followers. This has been so comforting to hear a “real” report with good data to back it up. Thanks so very much EI.

  32. Thanks SB and to all the readers of EOSr, and most of all EOS herself.

    We are under a code red tornado warning. See we will see in the morning. Photos will follow.

        1. We’re a Two Team Family. When in NY we root for the Giants but when we step into RI, we cheer for the Patriots. I like both teams. And neither team won their first game.

          I’ve emailed friends who hail from Naples but haven’t heard back. I don’t know if they stayed. I’m guessing yes.

  33. Amazingly our house did not lose power or internet so we watched our backyard webcam throughout the storm. All looks good. Neighbors sent a pic from their cam of water standing in the street which looks to be from the rain. Sarasota paper says there was max 3 feet surge on barrier islands. Very lucky indeed. Meanwhile my phone was blowing up all last night with tornado warnings in Orlando.

    We have learned so much about stong and weak side of hurricane, tornadoes on stong side, and all the good info from government websites as highlighted by EI. And great job by EI for his info and analysis.

    Given what we knew it was best to evacuate. Curfew still in effect in Sarasota and our neighborhood still closed. Some wind damage in Sarasota but all in all not bad. Was a Cat 1 hurricane. Still windy this morning in Orlando. Will probably head out early afternoon as I’d rather slog home than sit in this motel room.

    1. RDW: Oh my gosh, thanks so much for the update and the good news that your house is just fine and dandy. How clever to think to watch your own webcams. Brilliant. Just brilliant. I wondered how you’d fare in Orlando and don’t blame you for heading back home today. Three cheers!!

  34. Many thanks to you, EOS& EI, for keeping the real information flowing. I forwarded it to friends & relatives who left Naples Saturday night & were understandably panicked by what TWC was spewing. You were instrumental in calming their fears. Kudos.

    1. Thank EI, not me. I was merely the host.

      The post must have gone far and wide because my blog stats were over the top – literally many thousands more than usual.

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