With sustained winds from 125 to 185 miles/hour, why did it take so long for Hurricane Irma to cross the Caribbean? It was days, not hours, from landfall on Barbuda to landfall on Florida: a distance of about 1,500 miles.
The answer, of course, is that hurricanes are circular storms. The quoted speeds are for those winds whipping around the eye, but the forward speed of the whole storm averages only 15 to 20 miles/hour, and some don’t make even that, or not all the time.
Irma’s center was 125 miles southeast of Key West at 4 p.m. ET Saturday
and moving west-northwest at 9 mph.
To pick a perspective with which I have no personal contact, that forward speed is less than winning marathoners achieve: about 12 miles/hour.
But I do grok the difference between whirling speed and forward speed.
Internally, it’s the difference between making noise in my head and applying some discipline to make sense, albeit gradually, of the world around me and in me. It’s the difference between flailing in pain and moving through it.
Externally, it’s the difference between broadcasting non-stop and leaving space for others. It’s the difference between being busy and being productive.
As I watch the TV coverage in dismay, the destructive power of atmospheric whirling reminds of its potential for destructiveness in my own life.