Electric Environment

Will Irma create extensive sinkhole damage in Florida?

Why wasn’t I sinking about this? Florida is prone to sinkholes as it is. The terrain is shallow, sandy and porous, contains a widspread aquifer system. Abundant rainfall this summer saturated most of these aquifers. As Hurricane Irma is making landfall today, with storm surges expected to reach up to 10 miles inland and additional rainfalls of up to 25 inches, which puts an enormous weight load on the peninsula, conditions are ripe for widespread sinkhole damage. Keep in mind that the recent Hurricane Harvey pushed Houston’s crust down by 2 cm. 

Add to the problem, the Hurricane has already produced steady light seismic tremors on tropical islands at its arrival (see previous article about Barbuda). In the past, earthquakes (obviously much more severe as the tremors in Barbuda) have lead to soil liquefaction of saturated sandy grounds. It remains to be seen to what extent the mass transfer of the storm surges may propagate the soil destabilization without an earthquake. At any rate, if you are still in Florid,  besides wind and floods, also be wary of sinkholes during and after Irma.

For an example of the coincidence of sinkholes and rainfalls, here is a story from June 2017, when a car was swallowed by a sinkhole following “only” heavy rains in Ocala.

Sinkhole after heavy rains, June 2017 Ocala Florida

Sinkhole after heavy rains, June 2017 Ocala, Florida


2 replies »

  1. wow, only one reply, this is terrible and sinkholes are easily understood. Please find and read all my comments in WordPress in the sinkholes posts made by other people. I understand the sinkholes and where there is one sinkholes depending on the sink of the sinkhole, there will be other near to it relative to the size of the sinkhole.


  2. Thank you for this informative article. I was wondering about the risk of sinkholes before Irma came ashore. I know there is one already reported, and I would assume there are more to come. I hope not, but it would seem likely. I have family in Orlando so the thought of a sinkhole is terrifying, and I can’t help but think about past stories of sinkholes in that state.

    Liked by 1 person

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