I’ve been through the edges of a handful of hurricanes and through the heart of a fairly weak one. (I did it in a condo looking right over the ocean in Virginia Beach.)
Actually make that through the hearts of 2, as Isabel rolled right over me at amazing strength even though I was 150 miles inland at the time.
But the the storm I watched from the beach (Floyd) was the most dramatic. 2 things in particular struck me.
1. The condo I was at was right next to one of the 2 main spots I grew up surfing. So I generally knew how the water moved around the jetties and along the beach in the area. I knew the general flow of currents and how the waves usually broke etc. During the hurricane however the ocean took on another personality. I’d witnessed many “victory at sea“ days at the beach, but this was something else.
One could see the storm surge. The whole ocean just kind of rose up a few feet. It bulged. And there were massive waves (really piles of whitewater) breaking over the surge. Hurricane Floyd was not terribly powerful in hurricane terms but he was powerful enough to put me in awe.
2. The wind is strange near the heart of a hurricane. Unlike thunderstorms that often have gusts to near hurricane strength, and even along the edges of hurricanes where gales tend to ebb and flow, the winds at the core of a hurricane are steady. I remember standing on the boardwalk as Floyd approached and having the sense that my breath was being taken away (literally) if I stood directly in the wind. It was as if God had turned on a giant cosmic electric fan. The wind just kept coming and coming and coming. That was impressive. I’ve never felt wind like that since.
But the wind is only part of the problem. It’s the rain that can really put the crush on an area. Particularly if the storm is slow moving.
Unfortunately Harvey is slow moving.
Unfortunately, there is no relief in sight, as over 20 inches of rain have already fallen on the Lone Star State. With streets flooded and strewn with power lines and debris, authorities warned the storm’s most destructive powers were just beginning. Rainfall that will continue for days could dump more than five feet of water and inundate many communities, including dangerously flood-prone Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city. The latest summary of rainfall in the past 24 hours can be found here. Another 20 to 30 inches of rain is expected through to Wednesday.