As people in Texas recover from Hurricane Harvey and Floridians prepare for the even more powerful Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Jose, the third hurricane born under the path of last month’s solar eclipse, is slowly developing over the Atlantic Ocean.
On Tuesday evening, Hurricane Irma, the most powerful storm ever recorded over the Atlantic, bore down on the islands of the East Caribbean, building up to Category Five, the highest rating for hurricanes. Though it is impossible to predict the path of a storm, meteorologists warned Irma could turn north and hit central Florida over the weekend.
Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center warned that Hurricane Jose, building up behind Irma, is expected to achieve hurricane strength by Wednesday night.
— NHC Atlantic Ops (@NHC_Atlantic) September 6, 2017
While Florida waits in trepidation, Houston and its surrounding areas are still in the early stages of recovery from Hurricane Harvey, with some areas still underwater. Though not as deadly as Hurricane Katrina, Harvey was the costliest natural disaster in US history, responsible for more than $190 billion in damages.
The trio of hurricanes has been quietly developing for weeks. When a total solar eclipse transversed the United States on August 21 and its path of totality moved out to sea, it passed through all three embryo storms. This combination of eclipse and storm was predicted in the Yalkut Moshe, written by Rabbi Moshe ben Yisrael Benyamin in Safed in 1894.
Rabbi Benyamin predicted that when a solar eclipse occurs at the beginning of the Hebrew month of Elul, as this one did, “It is a bad sign for the other nations, bringing great damage to the kings of the East, and bringing great storms.”
Hurricane Irma from Space
Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf, a prominent Jewish educator and bestselling author, emphasized the divine aspect of these catastrophic storms. He maintained that it was no coincidence, noting all three arrived during the Hebrew month of Elul, when the Jews are going through a process of tshuva (repentance) in preparation for Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year).
“Sometimes divine intervention is meant to bring out the best in people,” Rabbi Apisdorf told Breaking Israel News. “But that can be a painful process.”
He noted that mankind has developed massive institutions, like hospitals, that are nothing more than reflection of God’s great chesed (lovingkindness).
“Utilizing these brings out the chesed from the individual,” Rabbi Apisdorf said. “This generates people caring for each other, it generates an atmosphere of humanity. Just a few weeks ago, America was divided in Charlottesville. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to bring us face to face with the choice, and we are confronted by our humanity. Nobody is looking at the burka, or cross, or Jewish star.
“But now, these massive institutions, and so many individuals, are filling up with chesed and helping out the precious people of Texas. Just in time for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur,” Rabbi Apisdorf said.
Rabbi Apisdorf emphasized that prayer is an essential aspect of being human and as the storms continue, people of faith should increase their prayer for the threatened regions.
On Wednesday, Puerto Rico, the US and British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Martin, and St. Barts are all expected to bear the brunt of near-record 185 MPH sustained winds as Irma approaches. Storm surges of 7 to 11 feet are expected, and heavy rainfall will exacerbate this, making flooding a near certainty.
— NWS Eastern Region (@NWSEastern) September 5, 2017
The US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico declared a state of emergency on Tuesday and ordered the National Guard into active service.
— iOuL (@Qliou) September 5, 2017
The director of the Puerto Rico’s power company predicted that storm damage could leave some areas without electricity for four to six months.
Florida’s Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in all 67 counties in his state, ordering 7,000 National Guard troops to report for duty by Friday morning.
Miami-Dade County will start evacuating special-needs residents on Wednesday, and may announce other evacuations soon. Mayor Carlos Gimenez said, “I would rather inconvenience our residents with evacuations than suffer loss of life.”
Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys, said it will order visitors to evacuate by sunrise Wednesday, and residents should begin to evacuate 12 hours later.
The NHC predicted that Jose could become a Category 2 hurricane as it passes the northeastern-most Caribbean islands at the end of the week. While Texas struggles to heal and Florida prepares for the worst, the uncertainty of Hurricane Jose continues to grow.