The barometric pressure in the 21st named storm of the season dropped 85 millibars in twelve hours, to 881, according to Dr. Jeff Masters at WunderBlog. That’s three millibars lower than Hurricane Gilbert, previously the most powerful hurricane of all time. Wilma, which was only 36 hours ago a slowly coalescing tropical storm, is now a Category 5, and that’s, what, the third one we’ve had so far this year during the Atlantic hurricane season?
The centre of this storm looks like it’s going to thread the needle between between western Cuba and the Yucatan, and although Central America is getting yet more rain that it doesn’t need at the moment (thank you, Stan), the storm itself may not threaten a direct hit on any land until this weekend (and by then, the storm is expected to weaken, possibly to a Category 3), but those people living in the Florida Keys need to get out before then.
But as Wilma is entering the Gulf of Mexico, oil platforms will likely be evacuated again. Oil futures are already up, and gas, which had fallen below 95 cents where I’m living, should be heading up above a dollar soon.
You know, whether or not you believe in Global Warming or not, or whether you believe this record-breaking hurricane season is the result of a natural increase in cyclical hurricane activity, one thing Katrina, Rita and now Wilma have highlighted is just how tight our worldwide oil markets are. A storm in the Gulf is enough to send prices up worldwide, even here in Canada where we’re rolling in the stuff. What that should tell you is that we’re too dependent on this substance to fuel our lifestyle, and this reality is only going to deepen.
If the hurricanes are telling us anything, it is to drive less, drive more efficiently, heat your homes wisely, and look to new technologies to take the load off our oil.