Hurricane Idalia would have been ‘much more devastating’ if it were not for this last-minute phenomenon

In the final hours before Hurricane Idalia hit Florida, the storm had become a Category 4 beast lurking off the state’s west coast, and the forecast said it would continue to intensify until it made landfall.

An Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter plane had recorded winds of up to 130 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in an ominous bulletin at 6 a.m. Wednesday.

However, when the sun rose an hour later, there was evidence that the hurricane began to replace the wall around its eye, a phenomenon that experts said prevented it from intensifying further.

Maximum winds had decreased to near 125 mph, the Hurricane Center said in a 7 a.m. update.

Then came another surprising twist: a last-minute twist that saved the state’s capital city, Tallahassee, from much more serious damage.

“Eyewall replacement cycles are common in large hurricanes, so when you see that, it leads to some temporary weakening,” said Kelly Godsey, one of the meteorologists following the storm at the National Weather Service in Tallahassee. , where his colleagues slept inside. the meteorological office so that they could be working in case the city was devastated.

Instead of attacking Florida’s capital, Idalia made landfall near Keaton Beach.AP
A weather map of Hurricane IdaliaThe hurricane began to replace the wall around its eye, a phenomenon that experts said prevented it from intensifying further. Fox Weather

Basically, the eyewall starts to collapse, and that “was beneficial from a timing perspective,” said Donald Jones, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Several hours after the process begins, a new eyewall forms and the hurricane can intensify rapidly, which Idalia did not because there was not enough time before landfall, Jones said.

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“Like a figure skater putting his arms together instead of outstretched, the hurricane spins with much more energy, power and ferocity when you look at it more closely,” said Ryan Maue, a meteorologist and former chief scientist at the National Oceanic National Oceanic. Institute. and Atmospheric Administration.

After successfully completing an eyewall replacement cycle, the hurricane has a larger eye and an expanded overall wind field, spreading the potential for damage to a larger area.

An electrician assesses damage to power lines after a tree falls on a roadIdalia remained a major hurricane threatening storm surges of up to 15 feet along some parts of the Florida coast.AP

Instead, Idalia followed the track over land where friction immediately reduced the wind speed near the surface.

Then, after eyewall replacement began, the hurricane moved away at the last minute from Tallahassee, home to some 200,000 people, Florida State University and thousands more in the metropolitan area. Instead of hitting the capital city, it lurched to the northeast and made landfall near Keaton Beach, Florida, the Hurricane Center announced at 7:45 a.m.

“If that turnaround had not occurred, there would have been much more devastating impacts here in Tallahassee,” Godsey said.

A map of storm surge caused by Hurricane IdaliaThere are several aspects of Idalia that intrigue weather experts.Fox Weather

Despite the effects of the eyewall replacement cycle, Idalia remained a major hurricane threatening storm surges of up to 15 feet along some parts of the Florida coast.

“All that energy has already been transferred to the surface of the water and the devastating storm surge is already on its way,” Godsey said.

A hurricane going through an eyewall replacement cycle can also experience an expansion of its wind field, meaning a larger area could be affected by hurricane-force winds, said Allison Michaelis, an assistant professor at the Northern Illinois Department of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment. University.

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a flooded house“These high waters were a combination of a ‘supermoon’ high tide, the effects of storm surges from Idalia, and a long-term component of sea level rise associated with human-induced climate change,” a meteorologist said. . AFP via Getty Images

During eyewall replacement, there isn’t much difference in the number of thunderstorms or tornadoes the hurricane generates because that type of weather occurs in the outer bands of the storm hundreds of miles from the eye, Maue said.

Farther south in Tampa, the atmosphere was intense as forecasters tracked the storm as it moved up the coast and aimed for the Big Bend region, said Christianne Pearce, a meteorologist with the Tampa office of the National Weather Service.

“The stress level is definitely high, but everyone is very alert and very attentive,” he said. “You know, what you’re posting is about making decisions to help people save lives.”

Houses damaged by the hurricane with roofs partially torn offOnce the storm made landfall, it was moving quickly with a forward speed of about 18 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.AP

Once the storm made landfall, it was moving quickly with a forward speed of about 18 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

The fast forward speed “was good and bad at the same time,” Pearce said. It did not last long enough to drop copious amounts of rain on the region, but it was fast enough to maintain much of its intensity and remained a hurricane as it moved across southern Georgia.

Idalia’s inland track was fairly straightforward for a storm moving near the coast across the southeastern United States, said Bob Henson, a meteorologist and Yale Climate Connections journalist.

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A tree felled by Hurricane Idalia lies on the grounds of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' government mansion.The landfall site of Idalia on Florida’s Big Bend Coast is rarely hit directly by hurricanes.via REUTERS

“The most unusual aspect was the especially high water level recorded in Charleston, South Carolina, and other places along the southeast coast,” he said. “These high waters were a combination of a ‘supermoon’ high tide, the effects of storm surges from Idalia, and a long-term component of sea level rise associated with human-induced climate change. “

There are several aspects of Idalia that intrigue meteorology experts, Michaelis said.

“It’s interesting that we had a drought of major landfalling hurricanes between 2006 and 2016, but since the 2017 season, we’ve had six major landfalling hurricanes on the Gulf Coast,” Michaelis said, adding that the location where Idalia Landfall Landfall on the Big Bend Coast of Florida rarely sees a direct hit from hurricanes.

“To me, this underscores the main message that we try to communicate before and during each hurricane season: it only takes one,” he said. “Regardless of how calm or active a season is, how calm or active previous seasons have been, and places where we traditionally see large landfalls, it only takes one storm to have an impact.”

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Source: vtt.edu.vn

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