Thursday, September 09, 2004

Hurricane Ivan

Hurricane Ivan, as this is written, is about 430 miles east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica. It is a Category 5 storm (on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most powerful), with sustained maximum winds of 160 m.p.h. (and stronger gusts). Hurricane-force winds (>74 m.p.h.) extend some 60 miles from the center of the storm; while tropical storm-force winds extend about 160 miles. The atmospheric pressure at the center of the hurricane is estimated to be 920 millibars of mercury; about 27.17 inches. (By comparison, right now the pressure in Phoenix is 29.84 inches.) Generally, the lower the pressure, the stronger the storm. Hurricane Francis, with maximum winds of about 140 m.p.h. at its peak, was a Category 4 storm, which "weakened" to a Category 2 storm (winds at 105 m.p.h.) as it approached the Florida coast. At that time, the hurricane-force winds from Francis extended some 70 miles from the center. Thus, Ivan is comparable in size, although a bit smaller. The atmospheric pressure estimated for Frances was in the 960 mb range; so Ivan is certainly looking to be a much more serious storm.

The news reports from the first landfalls made by Ivan bear out the destructive potential of this storm. According to the Associate Press, sixteen deaths were caused by Ivan in the islands off the coast of northeastern South America, including both Barbados and Grenada. The principal source of income on Grenada comes from growing nutmeg; and it appears that this year's crop has been destroyed. Ivan is moving at about 15 m.p.h. to the west-northwest, on a track that will take it over the island of Jamaica. Also potentially affected is the island of Hispaniola. The Dominican Republic is located on the eastern portion of this island; while Haiti is to the west. Although a "direct hit" by the "eye" of Ivan doesn't appear to be likely, Hispaniola is already being struck by the rain bands that spin off from a hurricane. As Haiti was earlier hit by some significant flooding, even a brush with such a storm cannot be helpful. I mention this in part because our church, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), has three parishes in Haiti.

Ivan is expected to strike the island of Cuba, and then to move to the northeast and strike Florida. Evacuation orders for the Florida Keys have already been issued, in anticipation of Ivan's arrival there, possibly on Sunday. There is already another tropical depression (often the precursor to a tropical storm or hurricane) forming over the Azores.

Now, perhaps you're asking yourself, "When did I tune in to the 'Weather Blog'?" I guess I'm going on a bit about this because, on the one hand, the power of God's creation is absolutely staggering. On the other hand, we need to pray, and ask God to turn this storm away from inhabited areas; and to weaken this storm, and spare the lives and livelihoods of those who dwell in its path. May God's will be done; and, if Hurricane Ivan strikes, may those who bear the blow, and those of us who watch helplessly, receive grace to perceive the will of God. At times such as this, what else can we do but pray?

Lord, have mercy!

A Hero In Beslan

Following a reference from the "normalorthodox" list at, I read the account of Yanis Kanidis, a 74-year old gym teacher at the school in Beslan. You should read it, too!

RSS Geek Needed
I'm trying to set up this blog to do Atom/RSS/XML feeds (the link, "Site Feeds," is at the bottom of this page); but I am doing something wrong, because every time I try to add the feed to my own reader, it fails to validate. The error-checking routine that kicks in suggests there are problems with some of the coding that is added when I switch on site feed through Blogger. In particular, it doesn't like my using the names of countries (Russia) and cities (Moscow) without some sort of site designators (which I suspect is part of the XML coding). I don't have the time to use my usual "crash-and-burn" method of computer "modification." Any bloggers out there who have successfully set up Atom that can offer some suggestions?