Photo of Hurricane Dorian take by the GOES 16 satellite on Monday at 12:40pm ET. (source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA))

Composer’s Notebook: Improvising in Dorian mode

Mark Gresham | 04 SEP 2019 @ 10:30am ET

After slamming through the Bahamas then stalling, Hurrican Dorian, which peaked as a Category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson, has reduced in power to Category 2 while growing larger in breadth as it begins to move forward again. Positioned off the central Florida coast this morning, Dorian has turned its path north and increasingly northeast, expected to skirt the coasts of the Carolinas before picking up speed on its way to the North Atlantic.


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For those along the coastal American Southeast, it’s been a bit of an improvisatory experience in terms of the path Doran would take. As recently as last Thursday, the storm was expected to make landfall in central Florida and cross the state into the Gulf of Mexico. By Friday, the predicted path had begun to shift to a rough ride up the eastern Florida coast.

Predicted path of Dorian, Thursday, August 29, five day cone. (NOAA)

Predicted path of Dorian, Thursday, August 29, five day cone. (NOAA)

Unlike the tragic impact in the Bahamas, residents of Southern Florida, in the Miami-Dade area ultimately dodged a bullet, but by Friday many had already begun to evacuate.

One of them was composer Olivia Kieffer, who has just begun her PhD candidacy studies at University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. Kieffer, who is also a contributing writer for EarRelevant, departed Miami with a few friends on Friday evening, planning to travel northwest then northeast to North Carolina. They made it as far a Gainesville, Florida before deciding to stop there.

Predicted path of Dorian this morning, Wednesday, September 4, five day cone. (NOAA)

Predicted path of Dorian this morning, Wednesday, September 4, five day cone. (NOAA)

With the change in Dorian’s predicetd path, they headed back to Miami on Monday, experiencing “only sprinkles of rain here and there,” she says, making it back home that evening. Their main concern at the beginning was the shortage of available gasoline. Most gas stations around Miami were sold out. Fortunately they started off with a full tank of gas.

Farther up the Atlantic coast, the situation remains risky. Tropical storm winds and four-foot ocean surges levels were reported early this morning in Amelia Island, where the annual Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival takes place from January through April. Evacuations have been ordered for the barrier islands and low country of Georgia and the Carolinas, ordered by the governors of all three states.


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That’s all based on the best predictions of Dorian’s subsequent path, but despite out best meterological science and its vast technological capabilities, actual weather retains enough unpredictability to warrant erring on the side of caution. We would be wise to remain as much in awe of its temperamental nature as much as its demonstrable power. ■

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UPDATE: 04 SEP 2919 @ 7:34pm ET · Now with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph and lashing the Georgia and South Carolina coasts with sustained winds of 35 to 39 mph,Hurricane Dorian isn’t the only tropical cyclone activity currently taking place.

Tropical storm Fernand, which formed in the western Gulf of Mexico, has begun to dissipate after making landfall in Mexico, and is now a tropical depression with maximum winds of 35 mph. Tropical storm Gabrielle, out in the mid-Atlantic, is expected to grow to hurricane force by Monday by poses no threat to land.

Hurricane Juliette, in the Pacific, likewise is no threat to land and is headed toward cooler waters where is it is expected to degrade to a tropical depression by Monday. Also in the Pacific, Tropical Depression 12-E remains disorganized by is expected to grow to tropical storm status sometime tomorrow and is on a predicted path that will take it well south of Hawaii.

(NOTE: If there are further updates to this story, they will appear here.)