Meteorologists struggled to find the right words to describe the situation as a line of three hurricanes—two of them major and all of them threatening land—brewed in the Atlantic basin in September 2017.
Forecasters were most concerned about Irma, which was on track to make landfall in densely populated South Florida on September 10 as a large category 4 storm. Meanwhile, category 2 Hurricane Katia was headed for Mexico, where it was expected to make landfall on September 9. And just days after Irma devastated the Leeward Islands, the chain of small Caribbean islands braced for another blow—this time from category 4 Hurricane Jose.
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite captured the data for a mosaic of Katia, Irma, and Jose as they appeared in the early hours of September 8, 2017. The images were acquired by the VIIRS “day-night band,” which detects light signals in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared, and uses filtering techniques to observe signals such as city lights, auroras, wildfires, and reflected moonlight. In this case, the clouds were lit by the nearly full Moon. The image is a composite, showing cloud imagery combined with data on city lights. ...
Yet again, a powerful hurricane has devastated a Caribbean island. Earlier in September, it was Barbuda, Saint Barthélemy, and the Virgin Islands that took a direct hit from Irma. On September 19, category 5 Hurricane Maria battered Dominica. Now Puerto Rico has taken its turn.
While Maria weakened slightly before making landfall on September 20 in southeastern Puerto Rico, the storm’s track was a near worst-case scenario. It ripped directly across the island with sustained winds of 155 miles per hour (250 kilometers per hour). That made it the fifth strongest hurricane to ever hit the United States.
The composite image above shows Irma as it was making landfall near Yabucoa. Infrared (band 4) and visible data (band 1) from Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite 13 (GOES-13) acquired at 6:15 a.m. local time (10:15 Universal Time) is overlaid on blue marble data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and black marble data from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). The series of GOES satellites are operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), while NASA helps develop and launch them. ...
A month later, Puerto Rico is still suffering from lack of shelter, electricity, clean water, medicines and food. Federal response has been weak, according to experts and witnesses on the ground, and there has been a lack of comprehension at the top that Puerto Ricans are American citizens and that they did not, themselves, cause the hurricane.
Despite knowing the projected path and potential intensity of Hurricane Maria five days prior to it making landfall, the customary and proactive emergency response protocols did not occur. President Donald Trump issued a disaster declaration on September 20 but inexplicably held his first White House Situation Room briefing on Hurricane Maria six days after the storm... [see link above]
A hospital ship sits offshore, with only 33 of 250 beds being used, because there is confusion about the process involved in getting patients admitted for treatment. The state-of-the-art USNS Comfort arrived two weeks ago. The U.S. Virgin Islands were also hit hard and not much is known about conditions there.
What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare. - W.H. Davies, from "Leisure"