Chased from Florida through Georgia by a Hurricane
It was a dark and stormy night as the hurricane approached from Cuba. We were just getting hit by an outer band, so the real storm was at least a day away. So, we had plenty of time to evacuate.
Most people stay, thinking that being 60 miles inland in central Florida is plenty of protection and, most likely, it will go somewhere else. We once saw a Hurricane over 500 miles wide that covered the entire Gulf of Mexico, so it didn’t have to be precise to clobber us. I have a great deal of respect for those storms.
My shocking teenage exposure to a hurricane’s destructiveness
I remember, as a teenager living in Indiana, the first time I really noticed a hurricane and what one can do. The news crew interviewed a bunch of college students having a “hurricane party” at a motel near the beach. They didn’t feel that there was much danger and they wanted to see the hurricane up close.
The story concluded with a promise that the news crew would return for a follow-up interview to see how scary it was. I watched for the story. When the news crew returned, the building was gone — nothing left but a concrete slab. The students were never seen again.
Tropical Storm Allison
It wasn’t even a real hurricane, just the remnants of Pacific hurricane, Hurricane Cosme, when it hit Houston, Texas. A tropical storm differs from a normal thunderstorm in that it doesn’t move much. It just dumps a lot of water. After a stormy night of reading and listening to music, I slept through the whole thing. I wasn’t much aware that anything unusual happened since I didn’t watch the news.
I found out differently when I went to work. There was no traffic on I10 during rush hour! The road was closed near downtown, so I took an alternate route with a beautiful raised median. Cars were on the median! I finally changed from music to news on the radio. All downtown businesses were closed, Allison dumped 20 inches of water overnight, and the bayou rose 10 feet over its 30-foot banks and covered I10.
If that was a remnant, I knew that I never wanted to be in a hurricane.
Closer to home
Hurricane Irma struck during our first year in Florida. This one came across the Atlantic. We left for Macon, Georgia, just as the outer bands were hitting Florida. We had clear weather for the 5-hour trip up I75 to Macon where we checked into our usual motel.
That hurricane followed us right up I75 to Macon!
The storms were as bad, or worse, than Allison. They dumped a lot of water, the winds seemed a lot stronger, and there were many downed trees. If I were paranoid, I would say that the hurricane was out to get us.
When we looked out of the hotel window, the tree limbs were just a few feet away. Yesterday, they were on the other side of the parking lot! Fortunately, we parked our car in an open part of the lot. The shaded spots next to the tree were already taken.
When we returned home, we found just a few small limbs around the yard, no damage to the house, and the new lemon and grapefruit trees survived.
Usually, hurricanes in the eastern U.S. form in Central America or off the west coast of Africa. The National Hurricane Center does a pretty good job of tracking them.
This year, Hurricane Barry came from neither of those places. It started last week as a typical low-pressure area sitting for days over the Gulf of Mexico near Florida.
Then yesterday, it picked up strength and headed for New Orleans, where it declined into a tropical storm and dumped 20 inches of rain. People had to stand on the roof of their houses.
It’s predicted to go north, adding more water to the Mississippi river, to Chicago as it weakens. That water will wind up in New Orleans, on top of the water already there.
Hurricanes are more unpredictable than cats.
There is no way to know where they will go or what the damage will be. For example, Hurricane Ivan traveled south of Cuba, hit Alabama and the Florida panhandle, went through states north of Florida, emerged into the Atlantic, curved south while building strength, then crossed the southern part of Florida before dissipating when it hit Texas.
I really respect these storms and will not voluntarily stay in the path of one. I don’t want to be in my house when a tree falls on it, debris flies through the window, or power is out for days. They also spawn random tornadoes.
Why do I choose to live with a hurricane threat?
Once, I had an outdoor job where I hoped that the high would get to zero. It didn’t for two weeks. With no garage, I had to start my car every two hours. Months of cold weather causes my asthma to act up.
Other areas are too dry. Lima, Peru has Earthquake season, not on rare occasion like California, but a regular season. Every part of the world has some kind of deterrent weather.
My location has the least impact on my health and fortunately, The Villages, FL provides wonderful retirement options. I can evacuate if need be.