Hurricane Betsy. Video of Before, During and After. Are you SURE you are PREPARED for a Hurricane?
I'm lying in bed as I type this listening to the rain falling heavy late at night. It's a nice comforting sound, has a nice feel to it. It's not a hurricane. Just late night May rain... Hurricane rain is not comforting it hits the side of your house like a thousand nails slamming into the stucco and at times it comes through the walls. During the crazy Hurricane Irene that created immense flooding the water came through the walls above the terrazzo floors. Not up from the ground but through the walls, it took us a while to figure out where the water was coming from....
Hurricanes, real hurricanes, are huge weather makers with more than just hurricane force winds. Strong squalls way above hurricane force that are not long enough to be counted as "sustained winds" but does it really matter if your house is battered by 105 mph winds for 40 seconds every 2 minutes or so and then a near by micro burst, down draft or possibly a small twister in the bands of the storm rip your neighbors awning and part of their roof off? The wind howls, screams, moans, groans and it's both mesmerizing and terrifying. If you live close enough to the ocean but did not evacuate you can sometimes hear the roar of the surf occasionally through the wind. It's unrelenting.
What those hurricane preparation charts might not tell you is to find a place in advance that your children will hunker down and try and sleep through the storm. Explain to them before the storm comes it's going to sound like a scary movie but the shutters are up and we are going to be okay but it's going to be very noisy. And, pray like hell that the storm doesn't intensify and you didn't tell them a white lie... because... no one really knows for sure before the hurricane makes landfall what it will be like. You could be far from the eye but still catch part of the eye wall, or you could be not in the eye wall but some fierce squall hits your immediate neighborhood with winds much stronger than what you were expecting.
Now days we feel like we have so much advance notice. The ever changing cone of uncertainty tracks the future projected path every 6 hours and your local television station has gone on 24/7 mode telling you what to do, where to go and what to prepare for as the hurricane gets closer. You shopped, you tied down the lawn furniture or brought it in, you boarded up the windows and feel as safe as you can be while you are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. You ever went down to the Beach and got your surfer son and daughter to come back home "NOW!" and as they slam the door to their bedrooms you smile knowing you did the same thing when you were there age.
The truth is back in 1965 Hurricane Betsy wreaked havoc on the NASA space program before it drove forecasters in Miami crazy with it's crooked, backward path. But what we don't realize is that they thought in 1965 they knew so much about hurricanes. They had satellite imagery, hurricane hunters flying through the storm and even the crew from the Gemini mission added in their own observations.
1965 was modern times, not like the old days when the 1926 Great Miami Hurricane took Miami by relative surprise and flappers and real estate salesmen who knew nothing about hurricanes suddenly were caught out on the causeway during the storm trying to find safety. This was not the Labor Day Storm of 1935 when they had no satellite imagery to see that a tropical storm was going through rapid intensification and bombing out into a Cat 5 Hurricane headed straight for the Florida Keys. There was no warning let alone any evacuations locally. The National Hurricane Center had learned much from Hurricane Donna five years before. The NHC was on top of their game doing their jobs. Televisions stations go out the word immediately. Key Biscayne and other low lying islands were warned to evacuate. Stores closed for the Labor Day Holiday were ordered to open so people could shop. Yes, stores used to close on the Labor Day Holiday but Labor Day 1965 the stores opened and people shopped.
Fast forward to 1992 and Bryan Norcross felt a sense of concern over some of the models and he had the new Aviation model that showed a different scenario evolving. He felt the model showed that Andrew would not catch the trof... Spoiler Alert: Andrew did not catch the trof... But we had satellite imagery and radar imagery (until the radar dish blew off the top of the National Hurricane Center we had radar imagery) and TWC was here chasing the storm as were all the men of all the networks covering the story. We had evacuations and people hunkered down and prayed they would be safe.
The one thing that does not change is often the sense of appreciation we have for the modern times we live in with all the scientific data we have to help us prepare for what will be down the tropical road. And no one today would say with a straight face "well the Aviation model shows..."
2016... the current present year with El Nino leaving and La Nina forming indicating a stronger hurricane season the further into La Nina we get and yet are we really prepared? Been over 10 years since Florida really had a hurricane. Katrina is a name from the past and Andrew a distant memory that mostly lives in the memories of the Miamians that stayed in South Florida and did not run away.
Miami as always glitters in the sunshine sitting at the edge of the beautiful, blue Biscayne Bay. Tall buildings line the water's edge and more buildings are under construction. Tropical waves will form and intensify and possibly develop into a strong hurricane. The Euro will disagree with the GFS and meteorologists on air will try and explain the options the different models are showing as possibilities. The NHC will make a cone and move it about slowly in real time.
Some people will refuse to shop til the last moment insisting it will turn away or fall apart. Others will act as if Earth was under attack from Martians and buy every thing left on the shelf they can find.
Are you really prepared? Really? I'm writing long here because I'm in the mood and it's my blog so I can...
Watch the video again and tell me if you are really sure you are prepared? The one thing that never changes is we always feel we know so much more than they knew back when. And years from now they will laugh at the way our models and old fashioned computer graphics tried to predict and show people in 2016 what a hurricane would do...
We are always learning. Always improving. Always trying to get it right.