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!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

A Little Bit of Miami History .. .Climate... Weather ...Why It Rains... Floods.... Why Is It So Tropical???

Writing a long blog this morning on some tropical history especially as it relates to Miami to point out things that most people do not point out. I know being truthful and not hyping things isn't as good a read especially for people who are agenda driven looking for keywords in every article before reading it but hey it's late June and there is no hurricane so why are you reading this and if so you may be a fan (long run on sentence without punctuation as I'm on strike today) so if so keep reading or just look at the pretty pictures. The picture above is one of my all time favorite pictures of Miami that's up on the Wikipedia site that teaches you about Miami and it's climate. This is the color my ex-husband used to call puke green that Biscayne Bay turns before a massive storm. I like to think of it as Miami Monsoon Pea Green. Marc Averette took this awesome very realistic picture of what it really looks like on any given day when a massive storm is moving in fast over Biscayne Bay and Miami.

I was born in the general Miami area and grew up in old Miami starting out in the Road Section (you can Google that) as my parents slowly moved out Coral Way to the suburbs as that was what parents thought they should do in the old days and I lived out where thunderstorms formed, turned the skies black with shades of purple and blue dramatically lighting up the sky with deadly lightning strikes against a backdrop of deep, dark green Australian Pine Trees that made it look like we were under attack from Mother Nature every day at exactly 3 pm. This began in late May when we were still in school which meant (don't use which use "that" but I don't like using "that" it's my blog and I'm obviously in a mood) we basically had to dash out to our parent's car in the middle of torrential rainstorms that began moments before the bell rang every fricking day. The streets often filled up with water because hey we basically lived in a swam called The Everglades that had been drained and paved over for parents to buy their first small homes to raise their kids out out in the suburbs that were usually a great place to live except for during the Monsoons that began in late May and bled into Summer Storms that could form on any given day and sandblast our homes with heavy rain, cloud to ground lightning strikes and huge hail. We called it weather being a pain. That was it's name. Weather. Miami Weather. May I say that some of those late May Monsoons were way worse than any piddly little Tropical Storm we might have later in any given year. The local weather men used to call them "gully washers" or "toad stranglers" and life went on because honestly it was normal life back then.

Note my mother's family lived in Tampa before Miami and in Key West in the 1800s before that so to them this was just the way it was in Florida if you didn't get out and go visit some relative up north to escape the Miami summer. And as lightning actually came into my Grandma's house through the chimney on Nebraska Avenue in Tampa as a young girl and my Great Grandfather sat on the porch in the afternoon watching lightning out over Tampa Bay coming in for a direct hit over his house often this just seemed normal to us Floridians.

That's not an atomic blast at the end of pier.
Neither is a cauliflower 
It's your typical late afternoon thunderhead forming.
The kind my Great Grandpa watched way back when.

If you wonder why anyone would daily expose their kids to death by lightning every May and June in it's basically because us Southerners do love it down here and after watching scenes of snow up north and people buried under snow and ice storms (which sound wild yet scary) and people up north in the winter having to wear coats and jackets and boots and scarves around their necks and oh my gosh the worst.... they wear hats which they hold onto with gloved hands while walking down Wall Street on their way to work and oh my God why would anyone do that if you could live in Florida? I used to walk to school barefoot only putting on my shoes when I got to school and on days I walked home we'd take off our shoes and hike up our already short skirts and wade through the puddles walking home; unless of course there was a bad thunderstorm in which case our parents raced to school to pick us up from the deadly lightning strikes. When a storm came in fast we'd stand over the Palmetto Expressway on the Catwalk pointing out the lightning, clouds and taking bets on how much time we had before it started to rain. So we lived in Florida. So we dealt with Mother Nature and her afternoon temper tantrums and an occasional afternoon thunderstorm that was a pain in the ass at the time but by October you forget all about it and by January and February when the weather is stunning and the breeze off Biscayne Bay is as good as it gets you smile and think you live in paradise. It's a tropical paradise remember that. It's tropical because duh it rains!

Old picture of Miami before the over crowding.
Note my Grandma Mary thought it was over crowded then.
There was something about my Grandma Mary.
Really I said that. 
She was awesome a true Old Florida Southern Belle.
She was shit terrified of lightning because .....
......because it chased her around her house.
After that she spent way too much time hiding under her bed.
She could look at the clouds and tell you when it would start raining.
Old Floridians knew how to live in concert with the climate.

Because then the rains come again and that's normal because that's our climate, there were just a lot less people here back in the day and usually the water went down the drains when it rained and they tried building a sewer system and a South Florida Water Management System but that's a subject for another day on another rant which hopefully won't happen much as I'm kind of hoping somehow, somewhere the NHC will squeeze out one little piddly yellow circle somewhere to give us something to talk about.

Anyway because so many people moved to Florida to be in Paradise living in small suburbs built out in the drained swamps that were prone to flood frequently as in every fricking day when it rained people began to complain it was flooding when it rains. (Yankees.... they understand snow but not afternoon thunderstorms) Sweetwater specifically was a mess but what can you say about an outlying suburb where real cowboys used to live along with retired Carnie folk? They didn't care much in the beginning never expecting it to be part of Greater Miami. Hialeah built on the saw grass prairie that flooded frequently because it was at the edge of the River of Grass known as the Everglades otherwise known as a Swamp.

If you choose to live in a swamp you learn to put up with the alligators in the backyard canals, the possum that get killed every night because they look at traffic like a deer in the headlights and go splat on the ground :( and in the morning you yell out to your mother who doesn't really give a damn "Mommy there's another dead possum in the road" (sigh, Mother slept late because she was an artist and was up every night either painting, drawing or writing and she didn't like possums enough to care) so yeah that was life out in Southwest Miami back in the day. It was life as we knew it every day and it was called the South Florida Climate which South of the Lake is actually Semi Savannah but we won't go there this is about ranting on what is normal in Miami because Miami was built on top of a swamp. The swamps started around 17th Avenue or 27th Avenue back in the day before they blew up the falls on the Miami River and drained the swamps which at the time they thought was a good thing called evolution into a modern world. I mean who needs swamps with mosquitoes anyway. Progress to one generation is "what the hell were they thinking" to another generation.

Old Miami when people built along the Military Trail Ridge
The old Miami Rock Ridge Road.
Lot's of names.
It's not much of a ridge.
But if you built there it didn't flood so bad.

And on darling the density is crazy.
But Miami is delicious still.

Miami today is all that... way bigger than expected.

Note Miami Beach that sliver of land across Biscayne Bay.
Far literally says "Miami Beach"
It was called that as it was Miami's beach...

This brings us to Miami Beach which is built on a barrier island usually used by the locals who took little skiffs or sailboats over to it for a picnic and went back to Miami which only existed along the ridge that ran around 2nd Avenue where you could build because everything else flooded. Okay an area down in Coconut Grove was good also because there is this great limestone ridge that runs the bay where the breeze blows always and it is one of the most beautiful places in the whole wide world ... especially in the Winter or Spring when you don't have to worry on the summer monsoons but if you like photography it's one of the best place to take pictures. My son Levi Meyer runs the Compass Real Estate office down there and lives nearby.... it's truly paradise and now that we have this great think called Air Conditioning you won't notice the heat especially if you have picture windows that look out onto Biscayne Bay and/or a balcony you can go out on and feel the most incredible beautiful breeze from the Bay. God I love Coconut Grove. If you do or you want to learn more please read one of the best books on old Miami is a cute site with lots of old pictures including this one up above of storm clouds building up over the sailboats in the Grove. Does not get better than this trust me and I've lived a lot of places.

That could be you!

I also love Miami Beach where my parents moved to when I was a teen as they became more Orthodox Jewish and wanted to be closer to that scene and it's nice synagogue just off 41st Street. So we packed up and moved and looking back I'm wondering how my father paid for it but probably from the down payment from whoever bought the house in West Miami. Miami Beach is beautiful and it rains there often but not with the timely regularity of West Miami out in the Swamps where the thunderstorms originate. You see sometimes they move ENE and end up dumping rain over North Miami or they move ESE and end up dumping rain over Coral Gables and sometimes the rain makes it to Miami Beach so on Miami Beach you never really know when it's gonna rain. Is that crazy or what? It's okay though because it's part of life there except soon after moving there we found out my parents picked a great place high in the middle of Miami Beach which was at it's widest point there and our street never really flooded like our friends who lived on Monad Terrace where water ran through their house up to their knees at least once a year and up to their ankles more frequently. Monad Terrace was a little street filled with little houses directly on Biscayne Bay so when it rained a lot the Bay would flood a bit back onto their backyards.

Random nearby spot used.
See the middle of Miami Beach :)

It's a narrow strip of land.
It was much more narrow originally.
But dredging made it wider.
More land... more money.
More land, more homes.
Real Estate Boom 1920s

Miami Beach floods. Miami Beach is a sandbar they built a beautiful city on. Yes it is getting way worse I 100% agree with that as I lived and worked there up until about a decade ago when I got remarried and moved to North Carolina.  Now my kids send pictures in the family Whatsapp Group and I read endless stories on how Miami is going to be the next Atlantis and it was articles like that about selling swamp land that ended the Great Real Estate Boom of the 1920s so maybe they can talk on other places that are flooding such as Ohio and New Jersey please.  But pictures of Miami are sexy and I guess flooded farm lands are not sexy.

To be clear here.
I am concerned on Global Warming.
I think on it it... worry.
I do believe in Sea Level Rise
(Holland is a good example)
I believe pollution is a major problem.
Especially tourist throwing their trash everywhere..
..on our beaches...
down our street drains that go out to the Bay
I believe unlimited allowance of construction was a problem.
Allowing anyone to build a tall condo anywhere on a sandbar..
That's so wrong.
That said .... if I ever win the lotto I'm buying a unit in the sky.
A unit around Bal Harbor with a great view of the ocean.
Or maybe a great view to the West over Miami ......
so I can watch thunderstorms rolling in!!!

Listen it is what it is.
It's called Summer.
It's called the Rainy Season.
It's called we over built and made it a bigger problem.
But it was always and forever a huge problem.

It's part of the Florida Climate.

You can study it when in Florida.

Florida Room at the Main Library ... 
Heaven on Earth for me.
History room....

Yes first comes the monsoons. The African Dust makes our cars a pale shade of pink and our sunsets technicolor conch shell colors and then the High builds in and the tropical wave train begins and Miamians who know their history watch to the East South East to watch for waves turning into Killer Hurricanes moving West North West and spoiler alert most go out to sea or move up the coast and clip the Outer Banks but some years they don't and they take a Florida vacation. 

It's that time of year when people show tons of graphs showing how the water in the Mid Atlantic is slowly heating up and this may help kick off the hurricane season. Oh........really? Oh wow. Amazing. They use lots of initials that mean something to me but less to you and not to dumb it down too much but it's like this.......... in June the water is warm closer in and storms form close to land and that area widens a bit in July and in August pretty much every region warms up enough to come alive. Note the winds have to slow down and shift around as we move from one set of rules to another. Shear needs to relax otherwise you have an ocean warm like a bathtub and shear is blowing the tops off of the tropical waves. Saharan Dust has it's day and then it goes away. Waves get stronger, they make it further West and eventually we have designated systems and we aren't just watching tropical waves and models.

Spoiler alert downtown Miami in 1896.
Not exactly a sexy image.
But the may was beautiful ;)

Miami is beautiful. Feel free to live there. It's a great place to grow up. But it rains during the rainy season and there is nothing new about that. Early settlers wrote in their diaries how muddy the streets got and the mosquitoes bred and grew big and bad and Miami was prone to Yellow Fever epidemics. My ancestors in Key West lived through 3 or 4 days of a fever over 104 and somehow managed to survive. They did go up North a lot to visit distant relatives as anywhere was better than Key West in the summer.  Miami was a beautiful place at the mouth of the Miami River where a few homes were built and a trading post was set up nearby. No not a tourist trap trading post a real trading post as in Seminole Indians paddled down the river trading things for beads they made necklaces with and passing ships put in to buy whatever wares early settlers had to sell.

It was considered a healthy place to live.
Many with asthma or TB moved here.
They thrived in the warm sunshine....
...and the fresh beautiful bay breeze.
They went up north in the Summer.

Then AC was invented and the city grew year round.
It's so beautiful.

The one constant is the weather.
The climate... 
Climate is the sum total of every day weather.

They tore down the cute little 3 bedroom 2 bath homes.
A huge new construction project went up on Monad Terrace.
They promise to me flood free.... fight sea level rise.
Okay... that's good.
Let's see how that goes.....

Let's hope we figure out how to build better and higher because I don't believe Miami will be the next Atlantis but if it does it will last way longer and be much more beautiful than Atlantis ever was... I'm sure and I know that because I'm a Miami girl. Hurricanes will always come and go... and every May it will begin to rain and then the huge High builds in and we wait and watch to see if this will be the year Miami gets a big blow from a hurricane or if it will blow on by and slam into the beach at Wilmington or slice across the Outer Banks and people up on Long Island will look South and wonder if that hurricane will curve out to sea or clip the tip of Long Island.

And that's tropical weather.

Have a most beautiful blessed day. 

Sweet Tropical Dreams (because that's all we got right now)

Besos BobbiStorm
@bobbistorm on Twitter and Instagram

Ps...Wow it's really windy outside, maybe that severe thunderstorm really will squeeze out a severe thunderstorm. Coming from Miami it's hard to really impress me with a Carolina thunderstorm but maybe who knows. I'll be back in Miami in July.

atl_ir4_sat_tropicalindex_anim.gif (640×480)

Must be serious they cut into General Hospital.

Miami skyline has changed so much....
but still the same vibe and the same vices!

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