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The Changing Wind Speeds

Hurricanes are in the news on a regular basis these past few weeks. Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Texas and the Gulf Coast while Hurricane Irma, churning across the Atlantic basin, is being called “potentially catastrophic.”

Both Harvey and Irma, as do all Western Hemisphere storms, formed near the equator in warm ocean waters, starting as a tropical disturbance. In the Atlantic Ocean the storms are pushed east by the trade winds which blow east to west. When wind speeds are between 35-38 mph the disturbance becomes a tropical depression and once sustained wind speeds are in excess of 38 mph the depression becomes a tropical storm (This is when it gets named.) To be considered a hurricane, technically a tropical cyclone, it must have maximum sustained winds of 74 mph. Using the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, these Western Hemisphere tropical cyclones are classified into five categories, based upon their sustained wind speeds, the most dangerous of which is a Category 5, having sustained winds of at least 157 mph. Irma’s winds have reached upwards of 185 mph.

These storms tend to bounce all over the place as their wind speed and intensity fluctuate. Harvey which began as nothing more than a tropical wave near the Lesser Antilles gained and lost strength, before maxing out as a Category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds reaching 130 mph, making landfall near Rockport, Texas, on August 25 while at its peak intensity. It then dropped back down to a tropical storm, only to gain strength and become a hurricane for the second time, again making landfall, before finally dissipating after days of devastation and massive flooding. (It also made landfall a third time, this one as a tropical storm.)

Life is often that way. In the course of a single day, we can see our emotions bounce all over the place. While we, like these storms, often change from minute to minute, God never changes. God, in His three persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) is the same yesterday, today, and forever. You’ve probably heard the saying that the only constant is change. While that is true of us and all the things around us, the opposite is true of God – He is consistent; always good, always loving, always all-powerful. Scripture verses in Malachi and Hebrews tell us that God never changes. In Malachi 3:6, the Lord says this of himself, “I the LORD do not change.” In Hebrews 13:8 it says this about Jesus, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

So no matter how uncertain your life is, and how changing the wind speeds are, you can always trust in God’s never-changing and never-ending love and faithfulness.

Dave Garrett

New Bern, North Carolina


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