Hurricane IRMA – 14th September

14th September 2017 11:02 am

“Before and after’ These two stunning images, taken by astronaut, Randy Bresnik @astrokomrade showing the Turks & Caicos Islands before and after Irma’s passing have been doing the rounds but with out any real explanation. They don’t of course show the devastation on the ground but they do show another side to her power.

To get a sense of scale, the 90 mile wide archipelago is separated by the Turks passage with the Caicos Islands (West, Provo, North, Middle, East and South) on the left and the Turks Islands (Grand Turk and Salt Cay) to the right. Irma was 400-600 miles wide!

 

Moving from East to West, Irma’s 30-mile wide eye passed directly over the Ambergris Cays (long finger of sand at the bottom) across the full width of the shallow Caicos Banks. What in all likelihood spared #turksandcaicos from certain Barbudian like disaster, was the fact that #hurricaneirma passed about 25 miles south of the islands as she left the Ambergris Cays and moved into deep water right along the very edge of the banks.

If you look closely the scouring / erosion along that southern bank is astounding. 100+ mph North winds, circulating counter clockwise in Irma’s Northwestern quadrant probably almost blew these shallow waters right off the banks! While her feared surge attacked the sides, never reaching land. It’s hard to even imagine what scenes there must have been. Utter chaos.

Meanwhile the light blue strands arced and laced north and west of the islands in the ocean, is actually sand and sediment in suspension. Blasted off beaches and forced between the islands and cays, these particles reflect Irma’s westward movement and over the next few months will sink and settle across the deep ocean as well as the reef.

While the human impact remains at the forefront of our attention, it is going to be fascinating to see what physical changes Irma’s immense power has wrought on the natural habitats of our land and seascapes.

The last time lapse courtesy of @noaasatellites reveals Irma’s incredible march through the Caribbean just before she made Turks and Caicos landfall. Notice all the lightning storms as seen at night. #tcistrong #madeofocean @ Turks and Caicos Islands


Filed under: Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma – September 2017

13th September 2017 7:36 am

As the Atlantic’s largest storm on record, Hurricane Irma, has finally relinquished her power in the continental USA. It is worth bearing mind she had travelled 3700+ miles across the entire width of the ocean, gathering strength day by day from the hot tropical water’s between the Cape Verde Islands, off West Africa to the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean, while continuing through the Bahamian archipelago and on into the Florida’s Gulf coast. An immense journey rivalled only by her immense destruction as she made landfall on September 5th on the tiny islands of Barbuda, St Martin and the BVI – horrifying and awesome in every sense, mother nature raw and uncut.

Storm Signals

In truth Irma had signalled her intent and sent an ominous sign westward from the moment many days before when, still in her infancy, she doubled in size over night. Our waters around the Turks & Caicos Islands had also delivered less than subtle signs that this might well be an active hurricane season. After all diving without wetsuits mid winter was not usual by any means. Rising water temperatures early in our calendar year is always a sure sign that should a storm form, they would have lots of latent energy to feed on.

Category 5 Hurricane

As Irma bore down on the Caribbean, that heat would be pivotal in sustaining 185mph winds to categorise her as a monster category 5 hurricane with 20’+ storm surges. Frightening to say the least. With all eyes pinned to NASA’s and NOAA’s satellite imagery, the world and us could follow in real time, this beast as she unleashed untamed hurricane force winds across those Leeward islands, with all projections clearly indicating that we, the Turks and Caicos, were next in line.

Hurricane Family

Not everyone, can run from impending doom, the islands certainly are not able do so and neither could the majority of residents. With Hurricane warnings already in full effect, houses battened down, boats pulled out of the water, businesses closed, food and water stocks sold out, all that could be done was wait and see. With the 2008 hurricanes Ike and Hannah still fresh in the memory, very few here had experienced a cat 5 storm. The last really big hurricane of 1960, Donna, was almost from another time, pre social media, pre instant news, almost pre memory for most people. A myth. She though had the power to split islands in half and reshape them in her fashion.

Irma Hits Turks and Caicos

As Irma’s first winds began to be felt on Grand Turk, collectively TCI began to fear the worst. Impending and inevitable power and communication cuts only added to rising tensions.

With Salt Cay, like Middle Caicos already evacuated, the eye wall passed close enough to sadly leave both Grand Turk and South Caicos devastated and cut off from the rest of the country. Very little news has been forthcoming save for no lives lost, although numerous local boats have made trips to bring much needed supplies and check on their loved ones.

Passing over Ambergris Cay to the West, Irma’s track had her spinning due south of Provo. Only sporadic texts here and there, kept those on the ground in the loop as to Irma’s whereabouts, until they too, ceased. With night falling and winds and rain increasing, all that was left was hope and prayer.

IRMA TURKS AND CAICOS

New Dawn

As dawn broke, and with Irma moving westwards over the horizon, her carnage was laid bare. Power poles, trees, houses, roofs and sand were strewn here, there and everywhere. It was clear that no one was left untouched. That said; many of us have gotten off lightly with what essentially amounts to minor damages, while others have been less fortunate in losing their houses, their roofs or their whole business. Irma’s southern track 25 miles south of the islands spared Provo from the destruction meted out on the Leeward Islands. All the sturdier buildings in Grace Bay, the airport and the commercial docks seem to have survived, which bodes well for next season. Digicel, Flow, Fortis and the Water Company are working tirelessly to bring back utilities and communication as communities are figuring out ways to clean up and rebuild.

Islands are Open

As for Big Blue, our team is safe and sound. Disconnected and disoriented, yes, but focused and determined to put this behind us and make next season epic. Our boats are safe. Our gear is safe. Our office, however, may look a little different next time you see it. We will fix her.

It will take some time but the message is that we, like the rest of the island, will be ready for next season. We have to be. We have time on our hands and thankfully no one was hurt. What will be interesting is to see what changes Irma has wrought on our seascape, above and below the waters. No doubt she has cleared out the deadwood and with that she has perhaps ushered in the new birth.

Bottom line – it could have been worse. All your kind and wonderful messages, thoughts and prayers obviously worked. Thank you.

See you all soon.

One Love

Team BB


Filed under: Hurricane Irma

Hurricane IRMA – 8th September

8th September 2017 11:00 am

‘The other side’. Thank you one and all, near and far, for all your wonderful heartfelt messages. Beautiful.

The main thing is we’re safe. Battered and bruised but safe. It’s hard to put into words what just happened. Nightfall brought with it Irma’s onslaught, power lost and communications down. Darkness in more ways than one. Noise unlike anything imaginable.

These images from space are unbelievable. With Irma the Giant now cutting a destructive swathe through the Bahamas as she marches towards Florida, we can perhaps count ourselves lucky. Lucky because the Caicos Banks protected us from the storm surge. Lucky because not everyone got off so lightly. Lucky, because we know what havoc she wrought down south and lucky because we know it’s going to be really bad for our northern neighbours. 

Our boats are fine, the office a little trashed. Look closely at images 2,3,4 & 5 and you will see how close Irma’s eye came to the #turksandcaicos – the north wall was only about 18 miles away, sparing us from the full force of 165+ mph winds. That’s not to say major 100-mile hour winds have not devastated large portions of the Islands, especially those less fortunate than us who don’t have concrete homes and solid roofs. The news from areas in Five Cays, Blue Hills and Downtown doesn’t sound good. Our Grand Turk and South Caicos cousins took the full brunt. We don’t have much news yet.The full impact of Irma will likely take days to be revealed.

So while we take stock on our predicament, we are also keeping one wary eye on Jose, who is about to ravage the Leeward Islands with another hammer blow. The lasting effects of these September storms will live long in the memory but it’s not over yet. Irma is heading into dense low-lying coastal populations of the Northern Bahamas and Florida while she batters Cuba on the way.

Our thoughts turn north as we hold our breath for the inevitable heartbreaking destruction Mother Nature will render. Nature is telling us something. Whether we listen or not is inconsequential to her. She will address the imbalance as she always does one way or another. One love  #hurricaneirma #madeofocean @noaasatellites @ Turks and Caicos Islands


Filed under: Hurricane Irma

Hurricane IRMA – 7th September – evening

7th September 2017 10:58 am

‘Crunch time’. The next 24 hours are gonna be intense. Adrenaline, anxiety, fear, dread, hope… plenty hope. Imaginations running wild. At some point we’ll lose connection with the outside world and with it a sense of where Irma is in relation to us. The unknown. That’s the scary part. From what our brothers and sisters down south have just been through, we really hope #turksandcaicos doesn’t see the eye of Irma. It’s going to be a long long night. Noises and sounds from another world. With all your thoughts, prayers and best wishes, we’ll get through this one way or another – we have zero say in the matter. Can’t help but wonder what hurricanes were like before the internet and weather forecasts….. We’ll see you on the other side. TCI people. Be safe. One love. Over and out. #hurricaneirma #madeofocean #ocean @noaasatellites #barbuda#stmartin #bvi #usvirginislands #peurtorico #dominicanrepublic #haiti#bahamas #florida @ Turks and Caicos Islands


Filed under: Hurricane Irma

Hurricane IRMA – 7th September

10:58 am

Irma has our undivided attention. These stunning satellite images from @noaasatellites are spellbinding. Mother Nature is AWESOME. She rules. Living and working in, on and under the water – we know this to be true. The power of the ocean is as devastating as she is beautiful. Our boats are out and tied down. Boards are are up. The BB team like everyone else, on Island have had all hands on deck. There comes a point when we can do no more but hunker down and pray for the best while expecting the worst. Everything is at stake. We are all in this together. Stay strong, stay safe TCI!

Thank you for all the wonderful thoughts and messages near and far.

Respect 👊🏽🙏🏽👊🏽and one love 💙

#turksandcaicos #madeofocean #ocean #hurricaneirma #barbuda #antigua #britishvirginislands #usvirginislands #puertorico #dominicanrepublic #haiti #bahamas #florida #cuba @ Turks and Caicos Island


Filed under: Hurricane Irma