Hurricane Irene & A Lesson In Hurricane History
Okay, I'm going to speak straight from the heart here and tell it like it is....
I've been trying not to focus too much on this storm today, because I don't have much to add officially as officially I am towing the line that the NHC has cast and trying hard to believe in their forecasted turn away from Florida.
That's not easy for an "old time Floridian" like me... My family lived in Tampa, Jax, Quincy and Key West before making their way to the Magic City. My roots in Florida go back to the early 1880s. My family has seen a lot of storms and I have to tell you the truth... most of the storms we saw were because the original forecast did not pan out.
Donna stalled and drove forecasters crazy and did her dance across the Keys while we sat for days in the "dirty" part of the storm and the only thing I remember from my first day of school ever was the big Jamaican Tall Palm Tree that had fallen down from the storm across the street from my elementary school. I cannot tell you much about walking into the building (South Side Elementary) which was an old beautiful Miami school from probably the 1920s.... all I can remember is that big palm tree on it's side.
Fast forward to Cleo. The forecasters insisted she would get torn apart by the mountains of Cuba. I loved Bob Weaver but you could read his face when he was watching her make it across and as she bobbled off of land and plopped herself into the Florida Straits that Cleo was looking stronger than they expected. I didn't understand weather back then... I knew maps and I knew his expressions and I knew we were getting Cleo and we did... Lost an avocado tree in the backyard, took days for the neighborhood to cut it apart and help the elderly people who lived behind us. Toads the size of Kansas were sucked out of the ground and buried... honest, why I don't know but Mike across the street insisted I look as he shoveled them into a pile. We lived out near the Glades...
They said Betsy was going to miss Miami and head towards the Carolinas.. there was a front (there is always a front it seems) and she stalled and sputtered and threatened the Carolinas. And, then she turned South...SW... everyone said she was looping and they don't do that long. She did it long enough to stall a bit off the Florida coast and turn west in the Keys giving us the dirty side of the storm.. We used up old Miami News newspapers that said, "Betsy Gone For Good" to catch water leaking in through the jalousies.
They insisted we would get Inez but all we got was more school and Inez went somewhere else suddenly.
By this time... I knew boys were adorable and cute and storms were fickle and they don't always follow the forecast.
Fast forward past those years I lived in LA and missed David from afar the same way David missed Miami... to fast forward to Andrew and let's skip over the small Floyd that came our way and blew down our Sukkoth we erected for a Jewish Holiday in October that specializes in temporary structures...which are easy to take down..
Andrew was headed towards the Carolinas. We had fancy new models and great weather forecasters and we came along ways since Betsy and guess what... The front in
August bombed out and rather than deepening and exploding it went poof in the wind and oh gee wiz but Andrew intensified more than they thought and turned west and never looked back.
I could go on and on... about blown forecasts and dreams that never came true.
The reality is that Hurricanes are fickle in that the slightest change in the atmosphere far, far away on the wings of a hyperactive butterfly can change the course of the storm just enough that extrapolated it makes landfall close to your town or over your town. And, the NHC changes it's forecast in real time and tells you that ... it was in the possible Cone to do that...
Floyd did turn, closer than we thought originally but he did turn.
They are getting better and better. Today we laugh at the old Aviation Model that Brian Norcross showed on tv to explain his fears about Andrew. Twenty years from now we will laugh hysterically at the GFDL and HWRF models and wax poetic on how wonderful our new methods are when it comes to storm forecasting. The one constant is we always think we know so much more and the one constant is that these hurricanes often surprise us. Advice from a Floridian ... don't turn your back on them, watch them and pray and hope they pass our beautiful magical city.
I remember sand being taken out of the lobby of the Deauville after a storm hit that wasn't supposed to hit. I remember a lot. I also remember a few storms that did actually follow the five day forecasted track. You just never know until it's over and it's history not a forecast.
The Gulf Stream Jet is going out again today. I hope it doesn't find any surprises... I do so love that Gulfstream Jet. Please lobby and bother your government officials to allow NOAA more money not less for forecasting tools like the Gulfstream Jet and Recon.. there is no substitute for being in the eye of the storm and being able to measure what is vs what we think we can see from the satellite imagery.
As for Irene.. My son has blinked and we are going shopping for school supplies. He goes to the Hebrew Academy on Miami Beach a block from the ocean and school starts tomorrow. I'm buying school supplies vs hurricane supplies today. It's his senior year. He will look back and remember what I remember from my first year of elementary school. Hurricanes and the Start of School in Miami go together like notebooks and uniforms. And, although the notebooks are now electronic... hurricanes and the start of school are Miami kid's memories. It's just that time of year in Miami, we call it Hurricane Season.
It's a great school. A great place to live. A great way to live. Sometimes hurricanes come and rearrange the landscape a bit but in the end, there's no place like it anywhere and I've lived a lot of places.
So, crank up the AC and put on a happy face and pretend to believe the forecasters and don't worry about Category Three Hurricane Irene moving our way and closing in on Category 4 status and do not think about the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926.. or Betsy or Andrew.
The 11 AM is out... she's moving NW (big smile and sigh) and I'm going shopping for school supplies. It's okay, my brother has a stack of hurricane supplies that will last through the entire 2011 Hurricane Season ;)
Just listen to the music and cast your fate to the wind...
Straight from the heart :)
The beach where my son's school is in 1926 after the Great Miami Hurricane... just about exactly give or take a block from the school...