The eclipse on Monday (Aug. 21 2017) was the first in nearly a century to cast the moon’s shadow on the entire contiguous United States (the last one was in 1918). The moon’s shadow crossed 14 states, from Oregon to South Carolina, along a path that is home to 12.2 million people, NASA officials said.
A total solar eclipse is a rare event, cosmically speaking. There are close to 200 confirmed moons orbiting six major planets in our solar system (Mercury and Venus lack moons). But in only one instance is there a moon that’s the right size, and at the right distance from its planet, to just barely cover the brilliant solar disk and reveal the Sun’s wispy corona. And that’s our Moon. (Looked at another way, total solar eclipses aren’t rare; they occur roughly once every year or two somewhere on Earth. But any given spot on our planet’s surface gets darkened by the Moon’s shadow on average only once about every 400 years, so in that sense totality is indeed rare.)
The Sun’s diameter is about 400 times that of the Moon. The Sun is also (on average) about 400 times farther away. As a result, the two bodies appear almost exactly the same angular size in the sky — about ½°, roughly half the width of your pinky finger seen at arm’s length. This truly remarkable coincidence is what gives us total solar eclipses. If the Moon were slightly smaller or orbited a little farther away from Earth, it would never completely cover the solar disk. If the Moon were a little larger or orbited a bit closer to Earth, it would block much of the solar corona during totality, and eclipses wouldn’t be nearly as spectacular.
Rare in its own right, sixteen days ago the eclipse passed over the US from west to east and moved out to sea. Its path of totality passed through a developing hurricane, resulting in a doubly rare confluence of events. At the time, meteorologists were doubtful the eclipsed tropical storm would develop into a full-blown hurricane.
The storm did indeed develop, with a vengeance. Four days after the eclipse, Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Gulf Coast of Texas, the first major hurricane to do so in over a decade. The hurricane resulted in unprecedented flooding that prompted more than 13,000 rescues, displaced more than 30,000 people, and inundated hundreds of thousands of homes.
Fast forward to today
Irma, the strongest Atlantic hurricane in history, keeps getting stronger
Two of the worst hurricanes in U.S. history may hit in the span of two weeks
Quite simply, meteorologists never expected a storm like Irma. The storm appears to have exceeded (or is about to exceed) the maximum theoretical strength for a hurricane in its environment — an estimate based on current water temperature and other conditions.
Irma has grown in size amid nearly ideal circumstances for intensification over the past several days. On social media, hurricane experts pondered whether or not it should be considered a Category 6 — which it would qualify for if the traditional five-tiered Saffir-Simpson scale were extrapolated for wind speeds as strong as Irma’s.
Hurricane Irma is not only a Category 5 monster, it’s also being described as “an enormous beast” that’s roughly the size of Texas.
Irma measured about 400 miles long and 400 miles wide, Cleveland meteorologist JD Rudd told the Cincinnati Enquirer.
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.
So is there significance in the number 400?
The number four hundred is closely associated with the subject of bondage. The first time it appears in the scriptures is in connection with a prophecy God gave to Abram in Gen. 15:13 “And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years.” God had made a covenant with Abram to give to his seed the land of Canaan, but before they would be given the land, God told him that they would dwell in Egypt in bondage for four hundred years.
When Stephen made his defense before the High Priest and the Sanhedrin court and the Pharisees, Sadducees, and lawyers he recounted that prophecy: Acts 7:6 “And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years.”
It could all be just a coincidence? Or maybe, just maybe God is sending warnings to this nation and the world to repent for the Day of the Lord is at hand…
“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring.
Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.