Rock You Like A Hurricane

16 08 2009

It’s that fateful time of the year when the southwest Florida weathermen (is that PC) get to justify their careers if they can roll the dice right and predict the exact path and surge level and category of an impending storm with any degree of accuracy.  If they nail it, then it can go on their resume and be used to validate their skill for the years to come.  If they miss it, then they must wait a year and slink quietly behind the desk aside the local sportscaster for their turn at bat.

In some small sense it is almost relieving to see a storm form, to give these well dressed saps an excuse to come to work.  This year for instance, it has been a relatively silent year.  And every night as we watch the news, the weatherman cannot seem to simply just give the three day forecast and tell me if it is going to rain all day tomorrow or just a few hours.  They have to turn their eyes to the oceans and prelude their rant with tales of Andrew or Charley or any other early alphabet storms.  Each rant is justified with a speech about how unlike other channels, they specifically saved countless lives because of their accuracy in their forecast.

And god forbid that today be the anniversary of any storm of significance.  I cannot imagine that any sane news station in the New Orleans or Biloxi areas would replay the moments as Katrina hit land and say oh yes, remember this? But here in Florida, anniversaries are a thing of celebration.  Remember five years ago today when Charley surprised us all and barreled into Florida and wiped out your house and home?  Hey, let’s replay the footage as it made landfall for the six o’clock news.  And at seven, stay tuned, we’re going to show you the towns that were obliterated by the power of this storm! Yay?

My first year in Florida was an exciting year, weather wise.  The closest to a hurricane I had been was in fourth grade when Glenda traveled up the coast to Virginia Beach, amounting to not much more than a rain storm.  I was excited at the prospect of enduring one of these treacherous encounters with nature, mostly at the curiosity and also the bragging rights.  I had been through volcanic eruptions and earthquakes and tornadoes, I needed to boost my own personal resume of what I have faced head on and survived.

And the weather did not let me down.  From Arlene to Zeta, with the first usage of Greek letters as they had ran out of names, 2005 was a doozy with 27 named storms and 4 unnamed.  That of course was the year of Emily, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma – all category 5 storms.  Each storm seemed to break a record and then another came along after to break it yet again.  Rita was the most intense initially, then Wilma had to come beat her ass.  Dennis was the most intense prior to August, then Emily broke that record.  Beta was one of the latest in the season, which was broken first by Gamma, then Delta, then Epsilon, and then again by Zeta – which finally fizzled out in January.

I enjoy, to a degree, the anxiety of the storm watching.  The will it won’t it nail biting moments, the crap shoot as I plot along my charts on my own and measure my own skill against that of the local forecaster.  But I don’t enjoy the fear when the track line actually comes in line with our land mass that seems to jettison out like an inviting arm into the warm sea.  The moments I have spent huddled against the wooden floor in my mother-in-law’s house, trying in vain to find some shut eye as we ride out the storm are not the most pleasurable; but they are worthwhile in watching the awesome power of the mix of rain and wind as the sheets dance past down the street.  Yet when it is over, I am relieved.  I want to go home and back to my life.

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