After a soggy Sunday across the Hudson Valley, where 0.50″ to 1.25″ of rain fell, our Labor Day weather is looking fantastic.
We’ll see mostly sunny skies take hold over the region. A steady west wind will drop dew points down into the 50s. That combines with afternoon highs around 80°, to provide us with gorgeous weather for our Labor Day. Anyone with outdoor plans will be very pleased, as the weather stands to cooperate. We hope everyone has a safe and happy Labor Day.
But… there is only one story right now, and honestly… we need to talk….
Hurricane Irma Insanity
With the explosion of social media over the past few years, we’ve gradually watched weather hyping on the rise. Someone grabs ahold of a computer model run, posts a “Major Storm Likely to Impact Large Area”, and it gets tens of thousands shares online. It’s gotten worse and worse… and quite frankly, we’ve never seen anything like what’s going on with Hurricane Irma. It’s a mess… so lets unpack this garbage heap… and make some sense of the madness.
Let’s start with the facts, and our forecast…
Here’s our map as of 11pm Sunday night. Hurricane Irma is a Category 3 Hurricane with winds of 115mph. It’s currently located about 700 miles east of the Leeward Islands. We have outlined our path of uncertainty over the next 5 days, with the red number indicating where we expect it to be, and the category storm at that time. Hurricane Irma will fluctuate in intensity over the next several days, but will likely contain winds between 120mph and 140mph much of that time. You can see that our track is quite similar to what the National Hurricane Center has…
This is a major hurricane, and it will continue to be a major hurricane through the week. Wherever Irma makes landfall (in the Caribbean) it will cause significant wind damage, as well as the potential for significant flooding due to storm surge. We need to keep a very close eye on this storm, as the entire eastern US could be at risk from this storm. The models have trended further south with the potential impacts on the east coast of the US. Here are the European and GFS ensemble tracks for Hurricane Irma…
You’ll notice that both forecast maps take the storm toward the Southeast US. Both models track the storm near or into the Bahamas, before taking aim on Florida or the SE coast. The European model has several solutions that recurve the storm back out to sea, without making landfall. So while the situation is certainly ominous… there is still some hope that Irma can be redirected out to sea after a close call. We’ll continue to track it each day.
But what we NEED to stress… is all the chaos on Facebook and social media. People and “fake news” media outlets, are pushing doomsday scenarios, and we are getting a flood of questions and concerns. And rightfully so! “Hurricane Irma Still Set to Hit New York on 9/11 Update“!?! That YouTube video has 125,000 views! Then there’s this…
This may be hard to see, but it’s from “Northeast Weather Alert” on Facebook. 36 hours ago, they put out a map on “Hurricane Irma Impacts” with the Hudson Valley in “Most Likely”. That map got 15,000 shares on Facebook. Then you can see the progression on Sunday, where it shifts the “Most likely” area from the Hudson Valley, to Virginia, to Florida. So in 36 hours, we went from “most likely” to barely in the “stay aware” on this map.
We’re not sharing these to mock anyone, or pick on anyone… but the reality is that the hundreds of thousands of people are seeing these things, and then panicking. With the advent of Social Media, it’s more important than ever, that you know your source. When you see things on the internet, if you don’t know the credibility of the person (media outlet) posting it, you need to be skeptical… especially when it comes to the weather.
If you’ve followed HVW for any length of time, you know that we STRESS the uncertainty of a forecast beyond 3 or 4 days. Hurricane Irma is almost double that distance away. So it is impossible to give anything resembling a reliable forecast on Hurricane Irma’s potential impact. So if you see maps like the ones we showed you from that Facebook page… or if you see a headline proclaiming a 9/11 hurricane and it’s September 3rd (8 days away)… you can immediately disregard that kind of thing. When my pet goes to the bathroom, the result of their activity in the litter box, is worth more value than those “forecasts”.
Why am I (Bill) so fired up about this?
Because we care about you guys! We love the interaction, we truly do. And we ALWAYS want you to feel comfortable asking us questions… we encourage it! So when we get literally 2 dozen private messages about Hurricane Irma… and the storm is 7 days away, it concerns us. It concerns us, because we begin to see the articles and posts that are generating the concern and the questions. Then we wonder how many people are seeing these things, and NOT asking us about it.
It’s a tremendous disservice to the public, that people are putting some of these things out there. It creates confusion and misinformation. But this is the internet, and people are free to post what they want… and that’s the way it should be (freedom of information).
But we want to make sure that OUR viewers have the correct information, and that you are equipped with the knowledge to properly prepare for any event. We shouldn’t even be talking about Hurricane Irma at this point. It’s so far down the road, that the guidance is so unreliable, that it’s not worth discussing. What value is it to tell you that a storm could legitimately hit anywhere between Mexico and Canada… or maybe stay out to sea all together? That’s not useful at all. But thanks to social media, we have to discuss it. We need to address the situation, in order to ‘put out the fire’. Almost every major storm threat that we discuss, we do so 24 to 48 hours before we normally would, because someone has started rumors on social media. We’re not ‘mad’… it’s just the way it is in 2017. But we don’t want YOU worrying needlessly. THAT is what’s important to us.
So… with that monumental rant in the books… we hope you have a fantastic Labor Day!