On Fri, 12 Sep 2008 09:39:10 -0500, "Leon"
[lots of stuff I can identify with snipped]
Having been raised in South Florida for 13 years, then living there
for four years again 30 years later, and now in North Florida for a
second five year tour (total 28 years in Florida), I've had more
experience with hurricanes than some folks. I can't even name all the
hurricanes I've been through. I know that we were in the eye of two of
them in the '60s (meaning they passed right over us), and Charlie in
'04 went right over us, too. Anyone who knows anything about
hurricanes, however, knows that you can be quite a ways from the eye
and still be significantly impacted.
Coverage sure has changed. Back in the day, one usually got one, maybe
two updates per day, which, with a storm moving 30 miles per hour or
less, is about all you need. Today's 24/7 coverage is ridiculous.
Imagine your relative is driving 1000 miles to visit you. Imagine them
talking to you on their cell every mile of the way to keep you updated
on their progress. It won't take but about 30 minutes for one or both
of you decide that you really don't need to hear from them again until
lunch or the motel. That's about what 24/7 coverage of hurricanes is
I started getting upset with the constant updating phenomenon with
Georges in 1998. We were visitng some friends in TN who had friends in
Key West. They were practicallly glued to the Commercial Channel (some
call it the weather channel, although it probably should be the
Whether Channel, because anytime you tune in, there's a 50/50 chance
of whether you'll see any actual content or not). I could understand
their concern for their friends, but they were nearly 1000 miles away,
and there was nothing they could do about it. Their constant, and
pointless focus was a huge distraction in our activities. I tried to
share my long experience with hurricanes to allay their concerns but
the damned Whether Channel was singing its siren song.
A year later, back to South Florida, we got Irene, which was SWMBO's
first hurricane. A glancing blow, if you want to call it that
(euphemistically or otherwise), the eye passed about 25 miles west of
us, but it was less a wind hurricane than a rain hurricane. Broward
County was absolutely drenched. The Whether Channel and other media
had SWMBO convinced she needed to get out in the gray, blustery,
spitty days before its arrival to stock up on milk and plywood--the
archetypal staples of hurricane "readiness" (followed closely by
We got the hat trick here in Volusia County in 2004 with Charlie,
Frances, and Jeanne. By the time of Jeanne, there weren't any tree
branches or other detritus left to blow around, so it was fairly
benign. We still spent two days without power. No big deal, you say?
Try that with a CPAP machine, sometime.
And of course there's Katrina. Poor New Orleans. Unfortunately,
everyone (except those who lived it) forgets that Miami got pounded
with Katrina first. Yeah, yeah--scale--I know. It all depends on whose
ox is being gored. Then, while all the focus was on her devastating
effects in NOLA, Miami gets hammered again with Wilma. The condo we
lived iin (but not by then, although my mother is still there) still
hasn't fully recovered from Wilma.
The recent Fay-asco had/has me so POed I can't see straight. I didn't
make the scale, and maybe it needs to be revisited, but technically
tropical storms have wind speeds from 39 MPH to 73 MPH. I can assure
you that there is a world of difference in those marginal speeds. In
the entire coverage of the Fay-asco in Florida (was it two weeks?) I
never saw a wind speed reported higher than 40 MPH.
Yeah, there was lots of rain--particularly in Brevard County (the
county south of us). But every time I looked outside, my front yard
was dead calm--maybe some tops movement in the higher trees around,
but not really much more than usual. And yet, the Whether Channel (and
everyone else) hammered, hammered, hammered (obligatory WW reference?)
about Tropical Storm Fay.
You see, if you sell a tropical storm as sort of a heartbeat away from
a hurricane, you have marketing opportunitie$ galore. But if you
report it as a barely enhanced tropical depression, you got squadoosh.
Follow the money. Thus, we got days and days of "almost a hurricane"
coverage, when in truth, it was barely a tropical storm.
Land fall. It hit Key West, it hit Collier County (Naples), it crossed
the state (and by the way, the Whether Channel morons were predicting
it would increase in strength as it went across, in utter defiance of
the laws of hurricane physics and the collective conventional
hurricane wisdom developed in the last century), soaked Brevard
County, sat off the coast of Daytonoa (just a couple of miles from
me), and meandered north toward Jacksonville.
Now, I can assure you from contemporaneous and on-the-scene
experience, that it's virtually impossible to claim that it was out to
sea at any point between Brevard and Duval (Jacksonville) Counties.
Even if one had been able to pinpoint some imaginary spot in the "eye"
(which was almost always poorly defined at that point in the storm) as
being offshore (for "landfall" counting purposes), a cyclone is so
huge that anyone within 100 miles of that spot is laughing wet at the
notion that it's not still "ashore."
So how did we jump from two landfalls and a vaguely theoritical
potential third at Jacksonville, to four? I maintain it never left the
state after Naples (until after crossing the Gulf shore westward from
Jacksonville), thus rendering its appearance in Jacksonville as part
of the same, second landfall. I'll concede that it might possibly,
somehow have been a third landfall at Jax, if the definition or
positon was wildly exaggerated, but they were "forecasting" a fourth
at that point. It's a miracle.
Don't even get me started on forecast tracks. A tropical wave 2000
miles east of Barbados and they post a predicted track through Florida
(almost two weeks hence). Threre will be people in the area around me
talking about "the hurricane we're getting." Ludicrous doesn't
remotely begin to describe it. And they don't even fill their bathtubs
or start stocking up on milk and plywood...
One final thought, which I'm confident will net agreement from Leon
based on his report of the reporting: do we really need to see one
more idiot in a canoe paddling down a street ankle deep in water? Or
however deep it might be?
Master Woodbutcher and seasoned termite
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