As we watch in awe as yet another hurricane forms in the Atlantic, we have to imagine some ways this storm will be different than the others.
Here are five things that worry me about the storm:
1. This storm will get stronger over the next few days exactly as it moves closer to Martinique, Dominica, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Often a storm will form out at sea and as it approaches land it starts to weaken. This storm is not doing that and might save the worst of the potential winds for landfall. We saw this in Barbuda and St. Martaan and could see the same unreal wind damage for more Caribbean islands that avoided the path of Irma.
2. There is A LOT of storm debris that will now become projectiles. If you look at the debris for St. Thomas and St. Croix it is everywhere. Sitting in piles and will be airborne as this storm approaches. This will add to the danger of this storm as walking around in the storm could be deadly and even hunkering down could see debris damage buildings in new ways.
3. I think hurricane fatigue is going to hurt awareness and response from the United States. Many people are simply not into following another big storm and the coverage that they get. I would expect many big networks and cable to have much smaller crews covering this storm as the focus was on Harvey and Irma. A side fact is that it is very expensive to cover storms like these and taxing on crews and some media outlets may simply not have it "in the budget" to cover this storm as it heads for two US territories with US citizens. This could be demoralizing for those involved and we have seen much criticism from locals about the response.
4. Puerto Rico was a safe haven for many displaced and it is probably in the worst spot for path and intensity of this storm. At one point almost one million people were without power as the eye of Irma stayed to the north. Imagine what will happen with a direct hit. The airport in Puerto Rico is crucial to the region since many others are damaged or offline and if it goes down the recovery for the entire region could take a hit. Puerto Rico has also had brushes with major economic issues like bankruptcy and this could deal a major blow to the region already on the brink.
5. Location, intensity, and path past Puerto Rico have a lot of uncertainty. Top of my list is the intensity forecast because following the path of Irma the cooler water underneath has come up so it may be good to reduce some warmer water from helping maintain Maria; however, it's not clear how much of a factor this may be. It seems like it would help, but we just don't know. Many models take it off the coast of the Carolinas, but still it's going to be another week on edge and any change could take it back to Florida up through the East Coast.
I've seen a lot of these storms and at this point it looks like another big one for the Caribbean and maybe some US states...again. This has been a very bad year for hurricanes and we unfortunately have months left in the season.