Hurricane Harbor

A writer and a tropical muse. A funky Lubavitcher who enjoys watching the weather, hurricanes, listening to music while enjoying life with a sense of humor and trying to make sense of it all!

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Super Bowl Sunday. A Look Back at Miami's Super Bowl and Some Miami History - Musing on the Magic City. Hurricane Seasons & Cold Winters. Will 2018 Be a Busy Hurricane Season? History Would Answer Yes!

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When I was little in the 1960s..
I thought Super Bowls would always be in Miami.
That 1969 Super Bowl changed Miami History.
Keep reading to find out how...

The Orange Bowl with palm trees in 1969
Ain't no palm trees in Minnesota today!
The Orange Bowl had magic always!!

As for the weather this morning may I say it's cold in the Carolinas but way colder in Minnesota where the Super Bowl is being played. Waves of eastbound winter weather have been moving across the country this year much the way westbound tropical waves usually depart Africa in the hurricane season. There has been some Arctic Air mixing it up with those Eastbound impulses this year and it's been a continual see saw between cold, warming up, cold, warming up, freezing, warming up and frigid cold again. One could make a good case for that continual see saw slamming us with cold bursts helped the Flu as it continually weakens our immune system. Some winters the cold sets in and you acclimate yourself to the cold weather. As the mercury climbs into the 40s it feels cold still and the 40s do not last long. But when the mercury vacillates between the 20s and flirting with the 60s it's harder to acclimate to the reality of winter. I'm not sure there is any real science there as medicine is not my thing, but I know it's been a hard winter to acclimate to as the waves of warmer weather followed by frigid weather has taken a toll on many of my friends who tested negative to the flu but were sicker than normal this past winter.

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Going further West you can see where this flow begins.

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Miami is a funny place. Logically it should never have become a large metropolitan city yet ironically in the heart of the tropics at the water's edge it rose up despite daring Mother Nature to hit it with her best shot and try and damper her magical spirit. Year after year hurricanes curve away from the coast or slice through the Florida Keys rather than slamming into Miami directly. Hurricane Andrew,  compact dry storm, swerved to the left just before crashing directly into downtown Miami and obliterating Miami Beach. Instead, the Category 5 hurricane went south across Everglades National Park, nurseries and farmland down near Homestead. The bedroom communities of Kendall and Cutler Ridge took a huge hit but they are no more "Miami" than pretending Yonkers and New Rochelle are Manhattan. Hurricanes Donna and Betsy went through the Keys in 1965 as did Irma in 2017 and books are filled with hurricanes that could have hit Miami dead on but did not. Miami felt the tropical breath of these hurricanes but that's not the same as having the eye of a Major Hurricane travel across the heart of Miami.

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No this isn't about how the 2018 Hurricane Season will bring that variant, violent storm into downtown Miami and do more than show watery video of flooding that disappeared almost magically the next day. New buildings at the water's edge are designed to deal with storm surge and despite the dramatic images stores were open for business and bars opened up in Brickell Village a few days later. This post is more a post on the wonders of Miami than actual weather or hurricanes. My friend Dr. Paul George, the Supreme Miami Historian, has said "Miami is seductive" and that's a direct quote from the other day when we were deep in discussion about Miami's history. Miami is indeed seductive as it is a taste of the tropics on our shores necessitating no passport making it always a vibrant, sexy destination especially in the winter. And, even more amazing Miami morphs through time always staying ahead of the game if not creating the game as it moved from the Roaring 20s to the Sexy 1960s when the Beatles performed at the Deauville Hotel broadcast to the world by the Ed Sullivan Show live in Miami.

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 In the 1960s Miami stole Jackie Gleason away to prove that Miami Beach had the "greatest audience in the world" and yes that brings us to the sister city of Miami the way an identical twin is often confused to the casual observer. The only real difference is that Miami Beach was once Miami's sandbar; filled with mangroves as a barrier island and nothing more. Miami at the turn of the last century was a small town congregating around the small ridge along the coast far from the Everglades that began only five miles west of the present site of downtown area. A river no more than five and a half miles and that may be an exaggeration that ran out of the Everglades down to the mouth of the Miami River where old man Brickell and his family ran a trading post for Seminoles who rode down the river in their dug out canoes to trade with the new merchants at the water's edge.

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Every twenty years or so Miami recreates itself moving from Miami Vice to CSI Miami with more episodes than can count of Burn Notice shown on air always somewhere. Cutting edge scenery, glittery lights reflecting, shimmering in the water that laps at Miami from many angles be it bay, river or the ocean Miami is forever tied to the tropical waters and balmy breezes of Biscayne Bay. Not much has changed on that level than when people in the late 1800s began to move to Miami for the promise of better health in a warmer climate giving an older person a better quality of life than they had back home in the winter in Ohio battling asthma or tuberculosis. In the 1960s a generation moved South to retire in the Florida Sunshine from snowstorms that exacerbated the general maladies of old age. No I didn't forget Flipper or Gentle Ben, but Flipper was fun and Miami Vice was a sexy upgrade to Miami in the Boom Time 1920s when crime and palm trees often went together. America's Al Capone actually became Miami's Al Capone; even the King of Gangsters moved to Miami for the Florida Sunshine that he enjoyed once again after he got out of jail and lived out his life on Palm Island until he died in 1947. The house not far from homes my grandfather built on Palm Island still exists. Watch my friend Paul show the house and it's history off below.

Cubans who always viewed Miami as a far distant suburb of Havana moved to Miami en masse in the 1960s when Castro came out of the mountains and wrestled Cuba away from the Batisto. The Cubans were followed by others from the Caribbean and over time Israelis, Russians, Pakistani and others found their way to Miami for the same reasons that the early merchants at the turn of the Century did .... it's a great place to sell things to tourists. Tourism is mother's milk to Miami and from the very start small excursion crafts took tourists up river to tall towers built to show people from "Up North" what the Everglades looked like and the beauty of the Miami River in the early 1900s. Again the Everglades began around 32nd Avenue not very far inland. In those days Miami International Airport did not exist and the only things flying about in the air were nesting birds of all types living in the saw grass prairies.

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How that small group of early settlers gave birth to a modern metropolitan city surely shows the magic of Miami. After the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 survivors moved inland to Houston where the new canal with the perfect timing opened up. Galveston was rebuilt but it became more a place to go in the summer and enjoy time by the beach in the way that people in the Carolinas head towards the Outer Banks or Myrtle Beach. What makes Miami different? The people; the every day people who lived in Miami who stayed after the 1926 Hurricane. The 1926 Great Miami Hurricane is indeed the one Major Hurricane to take Miami dead on at the Miami River. Those early Miamians rebuilt the city and kept going the same way numerous Miamians have suffered through loss of electric and water while cleaning up the debris and doing repairs waiting out the hurricane season one day at a time til the all clear is on November 30th. Miamians have one real definitive season and that is the Hurricane Season.

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So how will Miami fare this year? Yes, I am going there on some level. Miami proved it's worth after the freezes of the winter of 1895 and 1896 when most of Florida froze except for South Florida. Miami's birth as a city is intricately related to it's frost free climate. The farmers, the first real boom in Miami was agricultural, kept shipping out tomatoes and eggplant and pineapples to Key West to be sent far away when crops up the coastline were ruined.  In those days Miami had pineapples but it did not have a world class port the way Key West was a major port. And, yet Miami was not a stranger to tropical storms as October of 1895 and 1896 brought tree trimmer type of storms that blew away the thatched hut homes many lived in and tossed trees forcing even the earliest Miami settlers to clean up after a hurricane. On Miami Beach life went on as normal for the rattlesnakes and alligators and other creatures that lived in the mangroves at the water's edge.

The only REAL difference over time has been the way we can now prepare residents before a Hurricane makes landfall. Even in the 1950s and 1960s early Miamian's did their best to prepare and after the storm they waited to be allowed back into hurricane ravaged areas.

Your typical catch a frontal boundary storm.
Back to  back October storms.

Miami is often open wide for assault from October hurricanes in the same way late August and September make us look out our ocean front windows for hurricanes headed this way moving WNW around the strong Bermuda High. We may have blown up the rapids in the river, drained the swamps, built some flood control canals and built skyscrapers to withstand storm surge but the dangers are still there and the type of people who live in Miami stay there and rebuild time and time again. 

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If the current pattern continues from this winter then the tropics will remain busy next year and storms that form early or late at the tail end of cold fronts could grab that opportunity to travel North along the front in the same way Jackie Gleason grabbed his chance to move to Miami; much the way Don Shula in town for the 1969 Super Bowl looked around Miami and liked what he saw and took the job offer to move to Miami and coach for the Dolphins. His team, the Baltimore Colts, may have lost the game to Joe Namath's Jets but Don Shula ended up the winner in the end and so did Miami. Miami's magic and seductive call once again lured away the big prize.

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Yeah you knew I would weave the Super Bowl into this blog right? How can you talk about Super Bowl History and Miami without remembering Miami's constant use of grabbing any chance to advertise how warm and beautiful Miami is in the heart of winter to tourists digging out from snow and sub zero weather. Our early Mayor E. G. Sewell used every chance to advertise Miami's beauty to Northerners before Carl Fisher put bathing beauties on billboards in Time Square in January and Charlie Cinnamon turned Coconut Grove into the Left Bank and started an Art Show to advertise the showing of Irma La Douce showing at the Coconut Grove Playhouse; publicity has always been King in Miami and Jackie Gleason was indeed the Great One when it came to being the King of Miami Promoters every week broadcasting his show to the rest of America.

Miami is magical. It's history defies logic and it's long lasting appeal can only be attributed to being the Magic city with it's seductive call and the ever present moon rising over Miami lighting up the tropical night sky. Even a hurricane as strong as the Category 4 Great Miami Hurricane did not put an end to it's growth . . . just slowing the growth a bit prior to the Great Depression that made Miami and the nation take a break from the boom of the 1920s. But even then in the early 1930s people like my grandfather moved to Miami to work on construction on Miami Beach where small beautiful Art Deco buildings were going up despite the slow growth of construction elsewhere. I can picture him working on the small dome of a synagogue a block from the Ocean feeling the balmy breeze as he worked in the January sunshine of 1936 far from the bitter cold up North. In Miami you could grow crops in your yard, pick citrus fruit off the orange tree in your backyard and eat fresh fish any day of the year. Family legend has it he apologized to my very Southern Grandma Mary from Tampa who met him while visiting her sister Jenny in Philadelphia that she was right and he should have listened to her ... that Florida is like paradise and they should have moved South earlier. Apparent my Grandfather Ben felt Miami's magical call when he visited in 1935 with a friend. He told my mother how the wind blew in Miami so strong from a Labor Day Hurricane in the Keys he practically had to hold onto a palm tree not to blow away. Nope, the reality of tropical weather did not deter him from moving to the tropics and finding work and warm weather all year. My uncle in the 1960s grew tomatoes in the backyard of the house my grandfather built near the orange tree my cousin and I used to climb and the front yard was filled with rose bushes always in bloom. That's life in Miami.

Miami is the gateway to the tropics and every once in a while a tropical problem finds it's way into our beautiful city. I hope and pray Miami's magic continues and it's star shines on growing, evolving and only getting better over time. Luckily our ability to prepare the residents earlier and more accurately also improves. As we move closer to June 1st I suggest you stock up on things you see on sale that will help you during the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season as it may indeed me a sort of repeat of the 2016 Hurricane Season but this year Pt. St Lucie could be hit the way Big Pine Key was last year or some how a hurricane this year will find it's way into Miami proper and give Miamians a real run for their money.

I'll be in Raleigh for the Super Bowl and back in Miami soon enough. Thanks for letting me muse during the Off Season a bit on Miami History and how it relates to the magical growth of Miami despite the yearly threat of devastation from hurricanes. Often this time of year I think out loud here on my blog working my way through ideas I want to pursue down the road. 

Besos BobbiStorm

Ps I'm rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles if you were wondering but how any real Miamian can root for the Patriots is beyond me unless they originally came from New England ancestors. Note many of those hard freezes were followed by busy hurricane seasons. Something to think on while it's quiet and we watch people up north worry on snow.

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