Friday, June 3, 2016

Reasoning With Hurricane Season

Well, here we are again proposing to reason with hurricane season. No chance! It's June and from now till the end of November there's a chance of a storm. These days happily the National Hurricane Center in Miami spends less time trying to predict the number and size of storms and more time trying to alert people to the possibilities.

I have lived through a lot of hurricanes but owing to the fact the last major hit, a really bad one, was in distant 2005 many residents have never seen a hurricane. Last year I dropped by the hurricane hunter planes that came to visit in Marathon. They fly into the storms and make major contributions to the modern science of hurricane predictions.

However being able to observe the presence of storms doesn't necessarily mean scientists can predict their path. Or their strength. Hurricanes are odd things as they are pushed by air flows and create devastating tornadoes inside their swirling winds. One house can get trashed and a neighbor can be left untouched. All the scientists can recommend is to "have a plan." Good luck.

Another weird feature of hurricanes is that they are part of world wide weather phenomena. They affect large swathes of the planet's surface yet they too are affected by weather formations elsewhere. El NiƱo in the Pacific Ocean sucks strength out of the Atlantic Hurricane season. Go figure.

The Hebert (pro: hay-BEAR) Box is located between 15 and 20 degrees North and 60 to 65 degrees West and is a marker after a fashion for South Florida hurricane strikes. If a storm passes through the box shown below that contains Anguilla and Dominique there is an added probability statistically speaking, of a major strike in South Florida.

Given all this uncertainty hurricane season creates space for a lot of bullshit. Old timers, real or fakers hunch over bottles of beer and tell wide eyed newcomers what to do or not to do which can leave some people high and dry when the winds pick up and you get that scary whistling sound of winds blowing out of control, lashing rain, leaves flying, the power going out, isolation and fear and always at night when everything is worse. And then it's too late to evacuate.

The Keys are a good place to be in hurricane season. Everyone lives close to nature, it's hard to ignore the fact that you are vulnerable in these small islands. During Wilma in 2005 I saw a lot of heroic behavior and no rioting or looting or anything remotely like that. I'd rather be here than elsewhere in a natural disaster.

My own hurricane plan is pretty simple. I stay at the police station while my wife normally evacuates with the dog when schools are closed. Variations include staying with friends for a minor storm or having a friend over in our place. But on the whole I plan to enjoy summer and Fall and let hurricanes look after themselves for the time being.