Hurricane Maria's eye passed directly over Vieques earlier this morning and has now struck Puerto Rico proper:
Hurricane Maria roared ashore Wednesday as the strongest storm to strike Puerto Rico in more than 80 years, knocking out power to nearly the entire island and leaving frightened people huddled in buildings hoping to ride out withstand powerhouse winds that have already left death and devastation across the Caribbean.
The storm first slammed the coast near Yabucoa at 6:15 a.m. as a Category 4 hurricane with 250 km/h winds — the first Category 4 storm to directly strike the island since 1932. By midmorning, Maria had fully engulfed the 160-km-long island as winds snapped palm trees, peeled off rooftops, sent debris skidding across beaches and roads, and cut power to nearly the entire island.
In an unfortunate twist, some residents of Vieques had stocked up on critical supplies in advance of Irma only to donate what they had left to harder-hit areas such as Tortola and St. Thomas. Residents rushed to restock before deliveries to the island stopped and the power flickered off yet again.
There isn't much news coming out of Vieques yet, but having been there less than a year ago, I can't imagine that much of it remains standing. The shops and restaurants on Calle Flamboyan are (were?) less than 50 m from the beach, and barely 3 m above the Caribbean. I hope everyone got out OK.
This hurricane season may not break records for numbers or aggregate storm severity, but it will probably do so for destruction and cost. With St Martin and Barbuda all but destroyed, it looks like Vieques and Culebra are next:
Hurricane Maria went through an astonishingly quick transformation from a minimal hurricane to a Category 5 monster in less than 24 hours. As of 9 p.m. ET [Monday], Maria had maximum sustained winds of 250 km/h, and the island of Dominica was right in the path of the worst of the storm's winds.
The National Hurricane Center has warned Maria is now a "potentially catastrophic" storm. This is the only Category 5 storm to strike Dominica on record, and may be among the fastest rates of intensification of any hurricane on record.
The National Weather Service office in San Juan issued a statement on Monday afternoon warning of the massive threat this storm poses to the island. The winds alone could cause locations to be "uninhabitable for weeks or months," the Weather Service stated, in addition to warning of a potentially deadly storm surge along the coast.
I visited Vieques in November, and I've visited St Martin twice before. I hope both islands recover quickly.
Note to Scott Adams and other climate-change deniers: The intensity and destruction of this year's hurricanes don't prove human-caused climate change. They are predicted consequences of human-caused climate change. By "predicted" I mean that, 20 or 30 years ago, climatologists warned this is exactly what would happen as the planet got warmer.
Today is my birthday, which makes this year's Beloit College Mindset List even harder to read:
Students heading into their first year of college this year are mostly 18 and were born in 1999.
2. They are the last class to be born in the 1900s, the last of the Millennials -- enter next year, on cue, Generation Z!
11. The Panama Canal has always belonged to Panama and Macau has been part of China.
12. It is doubtful that they have ever used or heard the high-pitched whine of a dial-up modem.
16. They are the first generation to grow up with Watson outperforming Sherlock.
25. By the time they entered school, laptops were outselling desktops.
38. They have only seen a Checker Cab in a museum.
47. The BBC has always had a network in the U.S. where they speak American.
59. Bill Clinton has always been Hillary Clinton’s aging husband.
At 8:40 CDT on 31 August 2007, I joined Facebook. And then did nothing with it for several days.
I didn't add any Facebook friends until September 4th.
My first post, on September 5th at 7:43 CDT, was "in Evanston," which makes more sense when you remember that Facebook used to preface every post with "Nerdly McSnood is...". (This was before Facebook allowed public posts, and there doesn't seem to be any way to change the post's privacy, so if you're not Facebook friends with me you probably can't see it.)
Anyway, just a bit of trivia. And a little horrifying that 10 years have gone by.
Walking to work is an easy way to hit my step goal before lunch. It's 6.75 km and 8,500 steps. At just over an hour, it takes only about 20 minutes longer than the bus or 30 minutes longer than the train.
The problem is the dewpoint. When I left my house, the temperature was a delightful 19°C...and the dewpoint was a sticky 17°C. By the time I'd gone ten blocks I was already uncomfortable.
Note to self: bring a fresh shirt when you walk to work, no matter what the weather looks like.
Articles I haven't got time to read until later:
That's all for now. Busy weekend behind me, another one ahead.
I'm back home, and I've shoved all the Scotland photos out of the way so I could post this:
I didn't notice until I processed the photos from my 7D, but there are two solar storms visible: one at about 3 o'clock and the other, fainter one at about 1 o'clock.
We're already looking into a vacation in Chile in the summer of 2019...
I'm in Wildwood, Mo., where I saw my first total eclipse of the sun. It was well worth the trip. I'll have at least one photo when I'm back home tomorrow.
(We stayed an extra day because of traffic.)
I'm heading to Missouri tomorrow to get into position for Monday's eclipse. Since Springfield is on the way, I spent the day at the Illinois State Fair. Again. So, naturally, we had to make a pilgrimage to the butter cow:
No idea what we're doing tomorrow, but Monday we'll be standing in a parking lot with our eclipse glasses on.
And sweating. It's warm out there.
When we started planning this trip in May, it didn't occur to us that we would spend half a day at the Ileach equivalent of a county fair, complete with purple sheep:
The day started here, however:
We took part in the warehouse tasting, in which Lagavulin's Iain Macarthur let us taste some malts pulled right out of the barrels, including a 35-year-old and a 23-year-old, worth well over £150 each.
Now we're chilling before catching live music at the only venue that's open anywhere near us tonight, the Islay Hotel.