Last month, the United States felt once again what it was like to have a major hurricane to make direct landfall on the mainland. Hurricane Harvey would, after wreaking havoc in the Windward Islands, Barbados, the Caribbean, and Yucatan, strengthen itself within the Gulf of Mexico before slamming into Texas and Louisiana. The deluge would result in 70 dead within the US, with the city of Houston was flooded by unprecedented levels of precipitation, resulting in a devastation that would recall the tragedy of New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The bad part is, hurricane season has not yet ended; and there is a new Hurricane bearing down stateside, in particular, Florida and nearby areas. Its name is Irma.

Veteran forecast

Senior hurricane specialist Bryan Norcross at The Weather Channel made no bones about the severity of the damage that would be visited upon Florida once Hurricane Irma makes landfall this weekend. "This is the kind of storm that you read about in the history books," said Norcross on Wednesday, adding, “This has the possibility of running up the peninsula and affecting every major city in the state.” The veteran newscaster has been at the Atlanta studios of The Weather Channel since Tuesday, September 5, as part of the network’s round-the-clock coverage on the approaching hurricane.

Norcross, who has been a part of The Weather Channel since 2010, remarks that while it has yet to be determined how Irma’s US landfall and the subsequent course will play out the range of possibilities is known. The upper range of those possibilities, however, he described as “extraordinarily extreme.” He then makes a comparison between Hurricane Irma and its impending crisis to another powerful Florida storm that he had covered in the past: Hurricane Andrew of 1992.

Norcross had recounted his experiences of that time in a memoir, “My Hurricane Andrew Story,” which was released last May.

Comparison of strength

A look at tables of powerful past cyclones all over the world is a somber sign that Bryan Norcross is not understating the oncoming fury of Hurricane Irma on Florida. It is now at Category 5 with 185 mph of sustained, one of the most powerful ever recorded if not the most powerful.

One table shows that Irma is currently tied for third place, in terms of the strongest storm by wind speed, with super-typhoon Joan which hit Taiwan in 1959. The top two tropical cyclones listed are ones that struck the Philippines in recent years, second being Meranti/Ferdie (2016) and first being Haiyan/Yolanda (2013).

As of Wednesday, September 6, residents in South Florida have either fled the path of Irma or began buying up vital supplies, fuels, and building materials in preparation for fortifying and bunkering down in their homes or businesses. Based on The Weather Channel’s coverage, they are going to need it.