Recovery from Irma begins on US mainland – but Jose now a threat

Of the three potential scenarios last Friday for Hurricane Irma’s track up the Florida peninsula, the route it finally took was probably the least damaging in economic and insured losses. Irma’s ‘eye’ went overland rather than skirting the west coast of Florida up through the Gulf of Mexico, and thus lost its “power source” – the warm water on which hurricanes feed. And it kept to the west side of Florida rather than the east, thus mitigating the wind effect on the Greater Miami region (although Miami did suffer significant saltwater storm surge). The complexities of flood-related loss have shown themselves again. While most of the Houston-related loss from Harvey was sweetwater from rain, the Irma-effect in Greater Miami was saltwater from storm surge.

On the port situation, Jaxport, PortMiami, Port Tampa Bay, Port Everglades and Port Canaveral remained closed on Monday September 11th, pending clearance from the US Coast Guard.  PortMiami said that it expected to reopen on Tuesday September 12th, but that its POMTOC and SFCT terminals might not open before Wednesday September 13th.

Port Everglades handles fuel for 12 counties and multiple international airports. The port said that its fuel terminals could now release the storm reserve supply held back during Irma, and that this should be enough for four days of gasoline, five days of diesel and five days of jet fuel. Florida Governor Rick Scott said that he was prioritizing the reopening of the ports of Tampa and Everglades so that product tankers could come back in to boost the state’s depleted fuel reserves. Governor Scott said that there were already multiple product tankers anchored and waiting for the ports to reopen.

Meanwhile, there was bad news on the Hurricane Jose front. It had been expected to loop away to the north and east, away from land. And indeed this is what it did, but it carried on looping a full 360 degrees, so is now aiming at the US Atlantic coast again. It could be early next week, Monday or Tuesday September 18th/19th, before it becomes plain what is going to happen with the storm, which could hit land anywhere from the Carolinas to Newfoundland, or, indeed, just head out to sea.