Irma’s and her Granparents’s Bad Omen

Secrets on why this hurricane is so destructive as well as revelations on similar phenomena that hit Cuba.  

Irma has already hit the Cuban eastern region, happily a bit weakened because its sustained top winds dropped to 250 km/h and now ranks on the verge of a Category-4 Hurricane.

But since it appeared in the proximities of Cuba it had very peculiar features.

Generally hurricanes keep category-5 in the Saffir-Simpson scale for only a few hours. This hurricane still keeps that terrible condition for about three days.

This is because warm waters are the "fuel" of those phenomena and Irma has remained among waters with temperatures that surpasses between 0,7 and 1 degree Celsius the usual heat. This Thursday, for example, the waters it whirled with fury had a temperature of 30degrees and more.

It so happens that hurricanes need that the water to be at least 26 degrees Celsius and the top stage in the hurricanes season in the Atlantic is right between mid-August and Mid-October.

Besides hot, waters where Irma has been are deeper than usual and on top of that the winds at great altitude which are those that can dissipate the hurricane, are not strong enough to do so.

While on Tuesday it remained on the Atlantic Ocean, winds about 297 km/h of this phenomenon had already reached a record in the Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Mexican Gulf because only hurricane Allen, in 1980, could rival it with winds of 305 km/h.

Damned Lineage

Since these phenomena started to be tracked via satellite, about 40 years ago, this is the second time in which sustained winds of 297 km/h have been registered for more than 24 hours, said Philip Klotzbach, outstanding meteorologist from Colorado University.

Previously, the satellite had detected bearing similar characteristics the sinister typhoon Haiyan which in 2013 took the life of more than six thousand people in the Philippines.

Other hurricanes with terrible winds were Wilma, in 2005; and Gilberto in 1988.

Since year 1851 began a record of these phenomena, top winds reached by Irma have been the highest registered in the Atlantic since the 80’s, next to those of 305 km/h of hurricane Allen, which crossed the Caribbean, went through the Yucatan peninsula and the south of Texas, leaving a toll of 269 dead and billionaire losses.

Along the history of hurricanes, Wilma had been the most intense and Hurricane San Calixto the most deadly. The latter took place in 1780, also known as The Great Hurricane, and possibly the one with the highest death rate; nearly 22 thousand after hitting the Caribbean.

The largest of registered hurricanes was Sandy which in 2012 reached 1 520 kilometers of diameter.

By the time I a finishing these lines, Irma had already surpassed the record of maximum energy generated by a hurricane in 24 hours.

Hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel, from the Massachusetts Institute Technological (MIT), calculates that Irma has about 7 trillion watts: almost twice the energy of all the bombs used in World War II.

Amilkal Labañino Valdés / Cubasi Translation Staff

  • Published in Specials

Cuba and its Experience in Disaster Awareness

The UN General Assembly created International Day for Disaster Reduction in 1989 and it was accompanied by a declaration the following decade (1990-1999) aimed at promoting it worldwide.

Every second Wednesday of October served to educate the population on the issue that includes preventive actions, mitigation and preparation.

It was in 2009 when the UN General Assembly established October 13th as the date to begin a joint effort aimed at advancing in achieving for communities and countries to cooperate in the reduction of disasters.

The world body reports that natural disasters that currently affect the different geographic regions are occurring more frequently and intense due to human activity and the occasional damages to the environment.

However, the effects of the potential catastrophe inflicted by flooding, tornadoes, flooding, tropical hurricanes, intense droughts and earthquakes are mostly unavoidable.

Before its force, in most cases devastating, it's best to carry out prevention measures to reduce the loss of human lives and economic materials.

Despite its scarce and difficult economic situation, Cuba has shown its successful experience in the field which has led to international recognition. Such the case of the International Congress on Disasters held in Havana.

The event calls out for officials, specialists, researchers and professionals in the world with the objective of creating an exchange of knowledge update the tools to face such events and create through these conventions international cooperation in the field.

Issues like medical cooperation, health disasters and the reorganization of the services in emergency situations in addition to mental health, gender equality in dangerous moments and family in in facing hurricanes are among the most important in the scientific debates.

Representatives of the United Nations in the Caribbean have highlighted the Cuban experience in the risk management and role of the Civil Defense, work which can be taken to other countries to help strengthen their own strategies according to the envoys of the world body.

In the early years of the Revolution, the Civil Defense System in the country dedicated its efforts in preparing the population for a possible military aggression. Later, the damages of Hurricane Florain 1963 demanded a priority from the State in case of any future natural disasters.

The continued development of the work led to the creation of the People´s Army of the Actions in Case of Disasters in 1986 which has been a unique experience for Cuba and among the main activities carried out by the Civil Defense each year.

In the beginning the actions were concentrated in one day prior to the start of the hurricane season. Later it was extended to a weekend with broader objectives including exercises with the participation of the community and specialized forces.

The objective is to get the participation of people, entities and state institutions aimed at minimizing the negative impacts and protection of the population and natural and economic resources before any exceptional situation.

Another of the advances is related to the study on the danger, vulnerability and risk of particular phenomenon which favor the development of measures to avoid any negative affects to the population and assure efficiency in the use of available resources.

Improving the capacities and collective education on the reduction of disasters is thanks to the Cuban government´s political will, conscience of the urgent need to pay close attention in countering the destructive power of these types of contingencies.

  • Published in Cuba
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