Hurricane season

After nearly seven years living in southeastern Florida, certain things become habit. One is looking for alligators in every body of water larger than a puddle. The second is gaining an intimate knowledge of hurricanes: how they form, where they go and most importantly, how to survive one.

Those seven years included the apocalyptic 2005 season where there were so many storms, the National Hurricane Center ran out of names and had to resort to Greek letters. By the time Epsilon and Zeta (storms No. 27 and 28) showed up on the NHC maps, most Florida residents could only shake their heads or laugh in that giddy sort of punch-drunk way, then check to be sure they had sufficient batteries, toilet paper, water and bleach.

Even now, the National Hurricane Center remains bookmarked in our browsers.

Noticed this evening that the tropical storm season is underway well ahead of its usual June 1 start, with TS Alberto feeding off the Gulf Stream just off the South Carolina coast. (Then again, isn’t everything earlier this year?)

You’d think that in landlocked Arkansas, this old obsession with tropical weather would wane. After all, Arkansas hadn’t seen the sea since before the Ouachitas were formed. However, in 2008, Ike still packed enough of a punch to knock the chimney off our house and Gustav followed, damaging crops and causing other expensive vandalism inland.

Hurricanes and tropical storms are never to be taken lightly.

HURRICANE WILMA — So dark. So intense: Wilma comes ashore. The 2005 hurricane was most intense storm ever to develop in the Atlantic. The storm vibrated the glass in the sliding door so fiercely, it deflecting the plate about a sixteenth of an inch.
WiLMA — After the eye passed, the winds shift direction, but not intensity. The palm trees lean and blow in the opposite direction.
AFTER FRANCES — 2004’s Hurricane Frances did her share of damage. This slow-moving storm made us feel as if we were sitting next to a jet engine for nearly 36 hours. The roar was punctuated by the ping of objects bouncing off the house, the slow creaking of wind-tugged roof joists and the sounds of shearing metal. This is what we saw when the storm finally passed. And we were among the lucky ones.