Quote: Thanks a lot danielw. What will be the wind speed when Frances hits Orlando?
The storm will likely come in *somewhere* as a Cat IV storm. As you appear to be in or near Orlando, it is reasonable to expect that IF the storm comes in as IV and travels over LOW land and only for 50-80 miles, that it will remain strong, probably at least Cat III as it probably won't slow down much in that distance and distance from its' "food" source (the ocean). It is so large that even if it come in near VRB, its' low angle of entry will leave a lot of the storm offshore and 'feeding' at least some. So, assume a Cat III.
The terms Cat III and IV are defined by the Saffire-Simpson scale. The NHC has defined those categories thus:
Category Three Hurricane: Winds 111-130 mph (96-113 kt or 178-209 km/hr). Storm surge generally 9-12 ft above normal. Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings with a minor amount of curtainwall failures. Damage to shrubbery and trees with foliage blown off trees and large trees blown down. Mobile homes and poorly constructed signs are destroyed. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by battering from floating debris. Terrain continuously lower than 5 ft above mean sea level may be flooded inland 8 miles (13 km) or more. Evacuation of low-lying residences with several blocks of the shoreline may be required. Hurricanes Roxanne of 1995 and Fran of 1996 were Category Three hurricanes at landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and in North Carolina, respectively.
Category Four Hurricane: Winds 131-155 mph (114-135 kt or 210-249 km/hr). Storm surge generally 13-18 ft above normal. More extensive curtainwall failures with some complete roof structure failures on small residences. Shrubs, trees, and all signs are blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Extensive damage to doors and windows. Low-lying escape routes may be cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore. Terrain lower than 10 ft above sea level may be flooded requiring massive evacuation of residential areas as far inland as 6 miles (10 km). Hurricane Luis of 1995 was a Category Four hurricane while moving over the Leeward Islands. Hurricanes Felix and Opal of 1995 also reached Category Four status at peak intensity.
You can go to the NHC site for definitions of the rest of the categories. Less than Cat III *usually* does not cause structural damage to homes but shingles and tiles may be h istory, certainly trees are at risk and flying debris can be lethal if you are out in the storm and a piece of someones lawn furnerature hits you, or a tree limb, but *usually* it isn't considered a major disaster. With III-V, it is a major storm with significant damage to 'utter destruction' possible at the high end.
For those in the Ft Laud / Tampa area, ON THE PRESENT FORECAST, you could see Cat I wind or just TS winds. so flooding is your main problem. Decide based on your elevation and dsaster plan reccomendations and govt official evacuation orders. Water, more so than wind will be your problem.
FORECASTS CHANGE and IF the storm goes well West & South, you may face stronger wind on the west coast, and conversely, if you live further East of the current forecast track, you may experience MORE wind and flooding. That is why it is important to KEEP INFORMED and ACT EARLY based upon current information, not speculation on what *might* happen IF some model says this or that *might* happen. Wishcasting kills people by giving often false hope that it will be better if you wait....Balderdash! If you choose the wrong model because the lines look nicer for you, you are putting your life at risk if you have *guessed* wrong. The OFFICIAL forecast is your best bet, even if wrong, they are the pros that do just this kind of educated guesses. We pay a lot of tax money to pay their salaries and we need to trust them to do their jobs. Yes, they are human, but they are well educated in *this* field...are you? If not, trust their judgement. Expect what they tell you and be relieved if it isn't as bad as forecast.
While you have to make your own *informed* decisions, their forecasts are a best place to begin. Whatever you do, NOW is almost too late to do much changing of plans, that's why your need to prepare and ACT early.
A forecast is NOT a promise!
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