Hurricane Ike – Where Is He Going? No One Knows!

Though Hanna is a concern these days, it appears that Ike is going to be much more powerful.  Perhaps in 5 days we will know what he’s going to do but right now there are significant differences of “opinion” among the models and, I presume, among the forecasters.  One “take” is that Ike will veer at some point and stay in the Atlantic, maybe posing a substantial threat on the East Coast all the way from Florida up.  The other “take” is that he could slip into the Gulf of Mexico, at which time the West Coast of Florida and other Gulf Coast states could get a big one.

This afternoon Ike’s winds have been sustained around 140 mph – a Cat 4.  This hurricane is a classic Cape Verde type and not one to be casually regarded.  I urge you to read Dr. Jeff Masters’ assessment of Ike in his posting this morning.  If it no longer appears you can find it archived at the site.

There are some widespread misconceptions about the relationship between the wind’s velocity and the force it is able to exert.

Let’s compare 140 mph winds to 100 mph winds.  Those who have not learned the physics of the relationship between velocity and force generally deduce that an increase from 100 to 140 would be an increase of 40% not only in the wind velocity but also the potential force of the wind.  The former would be true but the latter is way off.  This is because the square of the velocity is proportional to the force (V2 = F).  A constant must be inserted into the equation in order to express an actual unit of force but that is not necessary in this discussion.  If you square 100 you will get 10,000.  If you square 140 you will get 19,600.  So the force upon a surface that the wind is striking at right angles will increase from 10,000 “units of force” to 19,600 “units of force.”  THAT IS A 96% INCREASE IN FORCE! (derived from 9,600 ÷ 10,000).  In other words, if a 100 mph wind increases by 40% its potential force almost DOUBLES!

Believe me, as one who experienced the aftermath of hurricane Andrew (our house in Homestead was a total loss) you do not want to be in the same place with a 140 mph hurricane.  It definitely won’t be a party!

Now I’m not saying that is what is going to happen.  Time will tell.  Please though, if you are reading this and you are located where Ike might visit – think in terms of preparation.  Stay tuned – more on that subject soon.


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