The Storm

On a personal note, we had our house (less than half a mile from the beach) shuttered yesterday, and it will probably be all right. It’s frustrating though, because we finally got it under contract this weekend, and it was supposed to be inspected for the buyer tomorrow. Doubt that will happen for a while now; no way to know how long they’ll be without power (and of course, the nightmare scenario is if it curves around and hits south Florida again). The worse problem is that Patricia’s son lives in Lake Worth, out by the turnpike, and has no shutters, so he’s desperately trying to find plywood or particle board for his windows. It’s looking to me like the winds will start from the east, then rotate around to the north as it passes by along the coast. And if it actually scrapes the land, it will be worse.

But the latest is that it’s still headed right at the Cape, and could even become a five when it hits tomorrow. If that happens, it will probably destroy the VAB, and other facilities, which are only rated for 125 mph winds. It would also probably wipe out much of the infrastructure at CCAFS, which would put both SpaceX and ULA out of business for low-inclination launches until it can be repaired. The only access to ISS (at least with any significant payload — one can dogleg out of Vandenberg, with a big performance penalty) would be from Wallops, via Orbital ATK. Hard to understate what a blow this would be in terms of our space capabilities. And it will raise questions about the future of NASA spaceflight, though Congress is likely to authorize the funding to rebuild, because without the VAB, they can’t even pretend that SLS will have any utility.

People have asked why the facilities weren’t designed to handle these kinds of winds. One of the reasons that the Cape was chosen is that, historically, it doesn’t see these kinds of storms, so designing for them would be like designing for a 200-year flood. But sometimes, 200-year floods happen.

[Update a while later]

Here’s a story from Maddie Stone at Gizmodo (though no, this storm wasn’t caused by “climate change”, but we can count on a lot of foolish people saying it was).

#ProTip: This storm will be economically devastating because of all the recent development on the FL coast, not because climate change.

— Apostle To Morons (@Rand_Simberg) October 6, 2016

[Late-morning update]

And here we go: “‘Liberals’ already blaming Matthew on global warming.” [Scare quotes mine; they’re leftists, not liberals]

He misspelled "idiots." https://t.co/9EpGaMEyN7

— Apostle To Morons (@Rand_Simberg) October 6, 2016

[Update mid afternoon]

Stephen Smith, who think’s he’s going to have to find a new job and move as a result, thinks that this is going to be apocalyptic for KSC. I think it’s very likely.

[Update a while later]

The storm seems to be further east than predicted, and I think Palm Beach County is out of serious trouble. Not sure what this means for the future track, in terms of where it makes landfall, or how much it affects the Cape.

[Update Friday morning]

Looks like they dodged a bullet. The storm stayed off shore, and they only saw winds less than a hundred mph (similar to Frances). Hearing there’s some damage to some roofs, but mostly came through intact.

23 comments on this post.
  1. Bart:

    Hey, we brought it on ourselves. If we would just stop burning fossil fuels, there would be no hurricanes. NBC says so.

    We didn’t listen!

  2. Paul Milenkovic:

    Remember, it is indeed getting warmer, maybe not as much as some “data sets”, but it is getting warmer.

    And this warmth is driving the increase in atmospheric CO2. One source of temperature-driven CO2 emission is from the soil. I am still trying to understand the CO2-coupled-with-temperature-change of ocean thermohaline circulation.

    The soil CO2 emission driven by temperature is indeed a potentially catastrophic positive feedback. But if the observed temperature increase has result in as much induced soil CO2 emission as claimed, the negative feedback offered by living, growing plants drawing down CO2 must be much stronger than in a quasi-equilibrium carbon model to account for the observed level of CO2 increase in the atmosphere.

  3. Bart:

    I think it is more likely that the system is stabilized by a law of diminishing returns to the “greenhouse” effect as convective overturning increases. Convective overturning increases as temperatures rise, and is thus a negative feedback on “greenhouse” warming.

    IMO, the result is that, in the present climate state, there is effectively zero incremental increase in globally averaged temperatures due to an incremental increase in CO2 concentration, and that prevents a runaway positive feedback condition due to the impact of temperatures on CO2.

  4. Bart:

    Which is to say, yes, the globe has obviously warmed in the past century – what else would one expect when emerging from an extended cold spell known as the Little Ice Age? But, it is not from increasing CO2 in the atmosphere.

  5. Vladislaw:

    It was my understanding that IF the climate was in the process of changing, and the oceans became warmer the severity of storms would be higher not that there would be more or less of them. Also if the ocean levels were rising, the inland flooding from higher storm surges would be happening?

  6. Rand Simberg:

    They have a different story every day, but any change in the climate is always terrible. And the ocean is not in fact rising.

  7. Vladislaw:

    “The State That ‘Outlawed Climate Change’ Accepts Latest Sea-Level Rise Report”

    http://wunc.org/post/state-outlawed-climate-change-accepts-latest-sea-level-rise-report

    “North Carolina’s most recent Sea-Level Rise Report is the product of decades of tidal gauge data, computer modeling and hundreds of years of collected scientific expertise. But Jon Britt doesn’t need all that to tell him the water’s getting higher. He just needs to look out his back door.

    “If you look out to where the extended breakwater is, that helps protect us against the storms. The beach was probably beyond that,” Britt says, pointing out across the Currituck Sound. “Probably 20 feet beyond that. This little hut that we’re standing in right now, it used to be a long way to the water.””

    http://wunc.org/post/changing-carolina-coast-managing-threat-rising-water

  8. Bart:

    What matters is not absolute temperatures, but temperature gradients. That’s what drives storms. But, the AGW hypothesis actually projects decreasing temperature gradients.

    It’s kind of funny. They could actually point to the hurricane drought as evidence supporting their hypothesis, but then they’d have to admit that there are major benefits to a warming world.

  9. Curt Thomson:

    the oceans became warmer the severity of storms would be higher not that there would be more or less of them.

    Can you elaborate. Specifically, how is it possible for severity to increase while frequency and definition stays the same.

  10. Vladislaw:

    Because warm water is the fuel so to speak of hurricanes, the warmer the water the more severe.

    “Warmer Seas Creating Stronger Hurricanes, Study Confirms”

    http://www.livescience.com/642-warmer-seas-creating-stronger-hurricanes-study-confirms.html

  11. Casey:

    First, that article is 10 years old. We have lots of new data.

    Second, we have this article on hurricanes that actually made landfall. Summary: no increase in major hurricanes making landfall over the past 100 years.

  12. wodun:

    IF the climate was in the process of changing, and the oceans became warmer the severity of storms would be higher not that there would be more or less of them.

    The problem is that every single prediction has been wrong to date.

    They said we would have more hurricanes and then that didn’t happen. They said there would be worse hurricanes and then that didn’t happen.

    Now, after an extended period of predictions being wrong, a single hurricane is being used to justify apocalyptic fear mongering by people who will say that weather isn’t science the next time a global warming conference is cancelled due to a blizzard or a propaganda as science voyage to the far north or south is blocked by ice.

    At some point, constantly being wrong has to raise some red flags with advocates for AGW apocalypse.

  13. Barbara Skolaut:

    Not to mention “snow will be a thing of the past.”

    I had nearly 2 feet of “thing of the past” on my deck/driveway last winter, and not one of those lying, self-serving b@stards came by to help me shovel their “climate change,” so you’ll forgive me if I don’t listen to one goddam thing they say.

  14. Jon:

    Rand, I like your tweet: This storm will be economically devastating because of all the recent development on the FL coast, not because climate change.

    The announcement of “xxxx Billions of Dollars in Damage!” has always irked me because it has nothing to do with the severity of the storm, only that real estate prices have gone up.

  15. ken anthony:

    They struggled until they struck gold with the phrase ‘climate change’ which allows them to use their most potent ‘reasoning’ tool: ridicule. “How can you even suggest the climate doesn’t change!?”

    Then of course they can fill in the gaps with totally unsupported assertions because STFU.

  16. wodun:

    And claiming every single weather event is climate change is another good move. Too much/little or average rainfall/snowfall/sunshine/storms are all now evidence of climate change.

    Its retarded but a lot of “smart” people buy into it. Maybe because neopagan nature worship hits the godspot in their brains.

  17. Casey:

    AKA Kentucky windage; take a shot, and whatever you hit, that’s what you were aiming at.

  18. Leland:

    I think people in Florida should take prudent measures, but I don’t think this will be the disaster for Florida some are predicting. It just doesn’t seem to be tracking west as much as the models, but that’s my observation.

  19. Doug Jones:

    The storm track predictions seem to keep it offshore, so the winds will last a long time, but not directly hit the coast. Also, only the trailing side of the northbound storm will hit the Cape and the highest winds will be well out to sea. There was a method to the selection of the cape back in the 1950s… it’s difficult for a hurricane to hit that area at full strength because they generally do turn north.

    With any luck the no hurricane landfall streak will extend beyond 4001 days.

  20. Rand Simberg:

    I think it’s a major hurricane streak, isn’t it?

  21. Leland:

    The eye is now 35 miles east of Cocoa Beach heading north. Matthew has been downgraded to Cat3 with windspeeds of 105kts/120mph, so VAB is in spec. All rain seems north of West Palm Beach now.

  22. Egad:

    This seems to be one of the better wind forecasters:

    http://windmapper.com/FL/forecast

  23. Paul Milenkovic:

    Thank you so much!

    I need wind forecasts to plan pesticide sprays for my backyard fruit trees. Even though I wear protective gear, I need to spray in calm winds so as to not get the spray back in my face.

    This will be a great help.