Friday, 17 September 2010
Hurricane update - 17 September
Hurricane Karl is now a category III hurricane, approaching Mexico between La Cruz and Punta El Lagarto on the Gulf of Mexico. The storm continues to strengthen and could be at category IV strength, with winds of 135 mph by landfall within the next 12 to 24 hours. Apart from the high winds, the storm will also bring a storm surge, with tidal levels 12 to 15 feet above normal, with large and destructive waves to the area of landfall and points to the north. Six-hourly updates are provided through the NHC website.
I copy the effects a category IV hurricane has on the area of landfall - this relates to the USA; I cannot ascertain what the conditions in eastern Mexico are like.
Winds: 131-155 mph
Catastrophic damage will occur
There is a very high risk of injury or death to people, livestock, and pets due to flying and falling debris. Nearly all older (pre-1994) mobile homes will be destroyed. A high percentage of newer mobile homes also will be destroyed. Poorly constructed homes can sustain complete collapse of all walls as well as the loss of the roof structure. Well-built homes also can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Extensive damage to roof coverings, windows, and doors will occur.
Large amounts of windborne debris will be lofted into the air. Windborne debris damage will break most unprotected windows and penetrate some protected windows. There will be a high percentage of structural damage to the top floors of apartment buildings. Steel frames in older industrial buildings can collapse. There will be a high percentage of collapse to older unreinforced masonry buildings.
Most windows will be blown out of high-rise buildings resulting in falling glass, which will pose a threat for days to weeks after the storm. Nearly all commercial signage, fences, and canopies will be destroyed. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Long-term water shortages will increase human suffering.
Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months. Hurricane Charley (2004) is an example of a hurricane that brought Category 4 winds and impacts to coastal portions of Punta Gorda, Florida with Category 3 conditions experienced elsewhere in the city.