Twenty miles might have made a $150 billion difference.
Quotes for the damage Hurricane Irma would inflict on Florida kept mounting as it made its sweep across the Caribbean. It had been poised to be the costliest U.S. storm on record. Then something called the Bermuda High intervened and tripped up it.
“We got lucky,” stated Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan. If Irma had passed 20 miles west of Marco Island rather than striking it on Sunday, “the damage would have been astronomical. ” A track like that would have placed the strong eye wall of Irma on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
By one estimate, the cost dropped to about $50 billion Monday from $200 billion over the weekend. The worst was escaped by the state since Irma’s attention shifted away from the largest population center of Miami-Dade County.
The credit goes to the Bermuda High, which acts as a type of traffic cop for the tropical North Atlantic Ocean. The system hovering over Bermuda jostled Irma upon northern Cuba Saturday, where being over land sapped it of some electricity, and then the tip of the Florida peninsula, cutting back on storm surge damage on both coasts of the state.
“The Bermuda High is finite and it’s an advantage, which was right over Key West,” Masters said. Irma grabbed the edge and turned north.
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