Conservative preacher claims he stopped Hurricane Irma with prayer

Lance Wallnau claimed, "It’s an amazing intervention of God and we have to praise God."

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published September 12, 2017 4:54PM (EDT)

The Sunrise Motel remains flooded after Hurricane Irma hit the area on September 11, 2017 in East Naples, Florida.   (Getty/Mark Wilson)
The Sunrise Motel remains flooded after Hurricane Irma hit the area on September 11, 2017 in East Naples, Florida. (Getty/Mark Wilson)

Right-wing preacher Lance Wallnau used his Periscope broadcast to proclaim that prayers supplied by both him and his followers managed to thwart Irma in Florida.

After releasing a series of videos in which he ordered the hurricane to move away from Florida, the preacher praised God for listening to his supporters' prayers — even though, as thousands of Floridians will tell you, the hurricane did indeed strike the mainland with force, causing billions in damage, displacing tens of thousands and killing at least seven in that state.

As Wallnau proclaimed, "It went from a category five to a four to a three to a two to a one. It’s an amazing intervention of God and we have to praise God." He added, "We have to take our place to protect the nation and that is exactly what we did. They may say we’re crazy — hey, they said I was crazy when I prophesied Trump; I’m telling you we were not crazy when we were dealing with the hurricane."

Wallnau didn't completely overlook the fact that Florida was indeed struck by Irma. "I know there is a lot of flooding. Jacksonville. So I was going to pray for Jacksonville the other night but I thought, oh, it's always on the right side, I mean it's on the east coast, don't worry about it," Wallnau explained to his audience. He added, "But it's flooding. Now it's not flooding over there in Tampa in that area. It's very strange."

Now, heretical as it might be to propose, there is an explanation for both the quickly retreating water in Tampa and the actual danger that was present, that does not require divine intervention. As writer Marshall Shepherd said in Forbes.

Though not necessarily a surprise to me, the stunning images and video of the water removed from Tampa Bay made the rounds. Many people felt it was Photoshopped or fake. It was real. The City of Tampa tweeted the picture below on Sunday afternoon. However, hurricane expert and UCAR scientist Michael Lowry urged people to not venture, "onto the Bay" because the water would return.

Shepherd also explained why the term "downgraded" is misleading:

I think that it conveys to many that there are no additional threats or reasons to keep your guard up. Legendary meteorologist Gary Szatkowski is retired from the National Weather Service. He made national headlines with his personal pleas to save lives during Hurricane Sandy. He agrees with me about the term. He tweeted, "I'm somewhat seriously considering replacing 'downgraded' with 'wounded but still dangerous."

Even less holy experts are saying that a crucial life-saving factor during Hurricane Irma was scientific progress, rather than the hand of an unseen, just creator. As Professor Hugh Willoughby, a meteorologist at Florida International University in Miami, told The Los Angeles Times, "The number of people killed in hurricanes halves about every 25 years, in spite of the fact that coastal populations have been increasing, because of what we’re doing with forecasting." He also pointed out that residents of hurricane-prone areas now have 36 hours of notice about a hurricane instead of 24 hours from five years ago, thanks to advances in the technology used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Amen.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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