Friday, May 25, 2018

Invest 90 - Sub Tropical Storm Alberto

The  tropical disturbance over Belize and the Yucatan has been declared to be an Invest, Investment 90L to be precise which means not that it will became a hurricane though there is a 70 percent chance, but simply that the National Hurricane Center in Mia mi is interested in the formation's progress. Aren't we all if we live remotely close to its projected landfall?
Hurricane season starts June 1st officially and runs through November 30th in the Atlantic Basin so all this activity is a little early and coming on the heels of last year's Hurricane irma fiasco it is setting nerves to jangling in the Florida Keys. I was shopping in Publix yesterday and I overheard a (loud) conversation between two women discussing their hurricane preparations. They were lamenting their lack of preparedness for Hurricane Irma last September and are determined not to be caught out this season. And already with a previous tropical depression flooding the Keys with rain we have seen a  wet start to the summer.
The thing about the Western Caribbean is that it is a heat catchment area, the waters are shallower and the heat is intense early on in that area so hurricanes which need hot water to fuel their spiralling winds. 
So  hurricanes tend to form off the Central American coast early in hurricane season and late while the waters of the Atlantic spawn mid-season storms when the ocean is warmest.
Even though forecasters try to warn us of what's ahead they can only guesstimate numbers of storms not direction of travel or landfall, so even if there are an average number of storms, as they point out it only takes one to ruin your day. Hurricane Irma with its 140 mph winds has left a trail of damage that is taking a while to repair. there are hundreds of tarps still on roofs in the Lower Keys, not so much Key West but the islands between Sugarloaf and Big Pine. Reconstruction is still underway and insurance companies aren't helping when they contest every single claim.
A  lot of people lost their homes in Irma and many left the Keys. There is a shortage of labor already in the islands though rental prices keep rising and wages don't match the increased costs so there are more people leaving for that reason.Suddenly hurricane season has become real again and the prospect of more damage, more unpaid evacuations, more chaos is causing yet more people to rethink their idea of life in paradise and you can hardly blame them. 
It may be that all we get is a ruined Memorial Day with massive rain storms, and if that is all so much the better. And if one has to be laid flat by a disaster frankly I prefer hurricanes to fires, mudslides, lava flows and earthquakes. However hurricane season is an annual event and it is relentless. I would prefer not having to sit out another catastrophe, but this is the reality of life in the Keys from time to time.