P.S. It’s a white Christmas in Seattle, with an inch or two of snow falling overnight in the city. White Christmases are rare in Seattle, but in 2008 four inches of snow blanketed the city on Christmas Day.
A series of cloudy and rainy fronts weather is set to roll over Seattle the next several days.
So when the sun came out from under the clouds today, I said to myself: get out of the house now! go get some sun!
Scarf weather is definitely here! The high was only 44 °F/6°C today, with the winter’s first snow on the lawn this morning. Later in the day, big fluffy snowflakes sifted down, some of it sticking to the surface of the deck in my backyard.
Man! Hurricanes, floods (and Las Vegas) have already made 2017 an annus horribilis. Even so, Sunday and Monday brought more disaster : one of the most destructive fire emergencies in California’s history. Some 15 fast-moving wildfires have now scorched 94,000 acres (146 sq mi) and destroyed 1,500 buildings. At least 10 people were killed, over 100 were taken to hospitals, and some 20,000 were forced to evacuate.
Here’s a collage of pictures from my random walk around Seattle downtown this afternoon. It was sunny but only 60°F/ 15°C, so ‘light jacket’ weather. ‘Scarf weather’ is coming, sometime in November.
I am trying again to add greenery to the front of my house, and my gardener recommended astelias (‘silver shadow’). I have to keep an eye on them and keep them watered, since the rainy season is not yet in full swing here.
It’s getting cooler here in the Pacific Northwest, and the first big weather system will move in this weekend, bringing rain to the parched forests on the Olympic Peninsula and lawns in the cities (such as mine).
Meanwhile, the very long road to recovery for the flooded and damaged parts of Texas and Florida, and the devastated islands in the Caribbean has started.
Newspaper USA Today reports that for the first time in 300 years, there is not a single person on the tiny island of Barbuda (pop. 1,800). Every last one was evacuated, after 95% of the structures there, had been destroyed by hurricane Irma.
It was a perfect day in Seattle: not too hot, not too cold, blue sunny sky.
Of course: a different story on the other side of the continent down south; a very bad weather day in Florida. Here is a collage of a few interesting pictures of the hurricane that I ran across on-line.
The wait is almost over (for Irma’s landfall in Florida) .. the latest tracking has hurricane Irma has Key West in the cross hairs, pass on the east of Ft Myers and Naples, and then hit St Petersburg and Tampa.
Florida Governor Rick Scott urged people on the coast all day Thursday and Friday to get out, and hundreds of thousands did, but many still stayed in their homes. The big problem is the storm surge that will surely flood thousands of homes on the Keys, and those on right on the Gulf of Mexico.
Check out the Washington Post’s free updates for Hurricane Irma, here. Late Friday night the storm system was brushing by the north of Cuba. (It devastated Barbuda, St Martin and the Turks & Caicos Islands). It is expected to make landfall on Sunday morning in Florida (but storm conditions will start to appear on Saturday). The latest modeling has shifted its landfall slightly to the west — but all of Florida will feel the effects of the hurricane.
Nevermind that Donald Trump Jr. testified before a Senate committee today (about his admitted meeting with Russians in June 2016), or that President Trump made an agreement with the Democrats on Wednesday*, blindsiding the leadership of the Republican Party. It’s all about the Category 5 monster hurricane Irma coming for Florida. There are gas shortages and the interstate freeways are clogged, as some 500,000 residents were told to evacuate to safer areas up north. Hotel and motel rooms as far away as Atlanta are said to be sold out. There were long lines at Miami, and other airports with people trying to get out before the airports close down on Friday.
*To raise the debt ceiling until December, and to provide $15 billion of funding for hurricane Harvey
I swept fine ash from the wildfires off my deck and front porch on Wednesday. The smoky, hazy sky hung around, but on-shore breezes on Thursday should start to take care of some of the smoke. But to help the firefighters, it really needs to start raining here in the Pacific Northwest.
Monday was Labor Day in the United States: the unofficial end of summer. By this time the traditional three week fellesferie (public holiday) in Norway and elsewhere in Europe, and the bouwvak (builders’ vacation) in the Netherlands, are long gone. I see the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant notes that it was not really a pleasant ‘topsomer’ kind of a summer in Europe, with the extreme heat there. I don’t think we can declare 2017 a great summer for North America either, with hurricane Harvey (and another one called Irma – now a Category 5! – churning towards Florida). In California and the Pacific Northwest firefighters are still battling very large wildfires. The smoke is blanketing the entire state, and we are looking to on-shore winds to bring some relief on Wednesday.
It’s official : Tropical Storm Harvey has broken a 1978 rainfall record with some places now measuring over 50 inches since Friday (the numbers on the left are from earlier). So that European weather model’s prediction was not out by much, after all. It is just mind-boggling .. to think that one or two inches of rain is a ‘lot of rain’, but here we are looking a ten, twenty times that.
It was a tough weekend for Houston’s residents, and for the first responders. The 911 service received some 50,000 calls. Houston’s airports were closed, but Southwest Airlines airlifted about 500 people out of Houston Hobby’s lights-out airport before sunset, on five special flights, so that they were not stranded at the airport. The flood water filled up all the lower-lying areas, and also reached downtown Houston. Resources are pouring in from everywhere to help; even from Seattle. A responder team of 17 people left today; they will drive 36 hours straight to make it to Houston to also go and lend a hand. Check out the New York Times articles; they took the paywall down so that everyone can access their coverage.
Category 4 landfalls in the United States:
2017 – Harvey
2004 – Charley
1989 – Hugo
1961 – Carla
1960 – Donna
1957 – Audrey
1954 – Hazel
Just before Hurricane Harvey made landfall northeast of Corpus Christi, there was news that 1. President Trump pardoned criminally convicted Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and that 2. Nazi sympathizer and White House staff member/ deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka finally resigned. (Yay). 3. There were new subpoenas issued in the on-going Trump-connections-with-Russia investigations.
Here is Bloomberg’s Noah Feldman explaining why the pardon is so exceptional, and so bad. Others speculate that Trump is flexing his powers-of-the-pardon muscle, and sending a message to the collusion-with-Russia investigators that he can pardon others, as well. (The power to pardon is based on the honor system, and we have a decidedly dishonorable President. Not good). Pardons can be issued preemptively; President Ford pardoned Nixon even before he was officially charged with a crime.
The danger from a hurricane is not so much the wind, but more than often the huge storm surge from the ocean, and the flooding that it brings.
P.S. An interactive on-line article titled Hell and High Water says ‘Houston is the fourth-largest city in the country. It’s home to the nation’s largest refining and petrochemical complex, where billions of gallons of oil and dangerous chemicals are stored. And it’s a sitting duck for the next big hurricane. Learn why Texas isn’t ready’.
I see Typhoon Hato is brushing by the south of Hong Kong, closing the stock market as well as the airport there. Here is a write-up just in from Bloomberg Business Week.
I’m sure it’s a somewhat unsettling day for the occupants of the 102nd – 108th floors in the swank Ritz Carlton, at the top of the International Commerce Centre building in Hong Kong!