Fri, Oct
21
2005

Disaster Watch

Fri, Oct 21, 2005

I hope we aren’t too jaded after seeing the damage of Katrina and the power of Rita. Wilma looks like it’s going to do incredible damage within the next twenty-four hours, and the other of our NAFTA partners may need help.

Wilma has already been the most powerful hurricane on record. Although it has weakened slightly, it is still a strong Category Four and strengthening. It looks like it’s going to hit Cancun as a Category Five and, worse still, it could stall there for two days.

Dr. Jeff Masters is blunt about the possible effects of this:

A 50-mile wide stretch of coast will receive Category 4 to 5 sustained winds of over 150 mph, causing incredible damage. As Wilma sits in place for two days, the long duration of high winds will cause far more damage than a quickly moving storm would. The long duration extreme winds will probably cause some of the worst wind damage ever seen in a hurricane. The storm surge will not be as much as a problem, because deep water just offshore will prevent a huge storm surge from piling up. Still, the expected storm surge of up to 11 feet will cause widespread damage to coastal structures.In adddition, rainfall amounts of 15 - 25 will cause serious flooding. Wilma is likely to be Mexico’s worst weather disaster in history.

I hope that, despite the fact that this storm is aimed at something other than an American city, Canadians and Americans don’t ignore this catastrophe. History doesn’t give me much hope. After reporting heavily on the terrible damage of Katrina, we all (myself included) forgot to talk about Hurricane Stan, whose death toll in Guatemala is actually higher due to flooding and landslides. But the combination of high winds and a two-day stall over a major tourist destination may be too much damage for us to ignore.

Whatever happens, we need to get ready to help.

We should also keep an eye on this storm as it swipes at Florida from behind, and possibly ends up in Maine, New Brunswick or Nova Scotia as a tropical storm.


Update

(07:54): For whatever reason, there are 150 Canadians riding out this storm in Cancun, reports the Star


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