7 October 2016

What People Who Do Not Evacuate from A Hurricane Do Not Know

Posted by Dan Satterfield

rbtop0-1Have you been in a hurricane? I mean have you been in the eye-wall right by the eye, or in the actual eye of the storm?? Was it a category three or higher? Be honest with yourself, and think about that.

If the answer is no, not really, then you have NOT been in a hurricane.

I think this is why many people do not evacuate; they just do not have an idea of how bad it can be.


I’ve been in the eye of 3 hurricanes, and the eye-wall of 2 others. All but one were cat 3 or higher, and I will never again put myself in the eye of a Cat 3 or higher. When non-meteorologists see the satellite pics/ radar images of a major or dangerous hurricane, they tend to WAY OVERESTIMATE where the high winds are. In a tropical cyclone the highest winds are right near the eye, this is not the case with a typical winter nor’easter, where the winds are high over a hundred miles from the storm. They are two different animals, one runs on temperature differences, the other on a hot ocean. The physics are much different. Just 40 miles away, the winds are likely well below hurricane force, and you will only get gusts to hurricane force in the rain bands. 

The other thing that folks do not understand is the storm surge. The story has been told over and over, by people through two hundred years, and longer. They thought they had made it through the storm. The winds were howling, but the building was holding and the water was not too bad. Just ankle deep or even less. Then, in the space of 5 minutes it rose three feet, then another foot, and then even higher.

Then the building collapses. The survivors told the story, but it’s almost hard to believe it can happen like that.

Trust me: IT DOES!

If you’re staying put on the coast of Florida tonight, and you’re near the water, you’d better hope that Matthew stays just out to sea. If it does, you’ll probably be OK, but the difference in damage from a storm just offshore and one that crosses the coast is tremendous. An order of magnitude more damage will result with a land-falling storm. If you want to know what it’s like, then read the book Isaac’s Storm. It has a vivid account of what happens in a Cat 4 hurricane. 

One last note. A right-wing conspiracy theory web-site is spreading an insane lie that the government is making this storm look worse than it is for political reasons. It is impossible to describe the amount of disgust felt by almost every meteorologist I know over this. It’s potentially deadly misinformation. Spreading this rumor is one thing (disgusting is the word that comes to mind), but anyone falling for this may be losing touch with reality.  If you know someone who believes this type of inane propaganda, urge them in a heartfelt way to get psychological help.