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!

Saturday, June 22, 2019

June Too Soon. Tropical Miami History. South Florida and the Weather Always Connected. Are Hurricanes Good or Bad? It's ALL a Matter of Perspective... Back When It Was Like Walmart Delivered... Or Amazon Prime Pirate Style

There are no hurricanes today in the Atlantic Basin.
There are no hurricane in the EPAC.
There's a chance the EPAC may fire up soon.
There's long range talk the Atlantic will spark up in July.
Not talking July 1st but sometime after July 4th.
Hopefully after July 4th as beaches need the revenue.
Hate to see July 4th Weekend get ruined.
Again this year hurricanes close in are a concern.
It's a "normal" sort of year.
Quiet in June while SAL dances in the Atlantic.
Shear is there....
...and the trade winds have not kicked in yet.
Waves look healthy.
The High is healthy.
Now is the time to prepare.
It's also a good time to learn up on Hurricane History.
That's a way of saying...
Learn from History or you'll be sorry ;)

Also today's post is about perspective.
History is written from the perspective of the subject.
Sometimes hurricanes are good.
Sometimes hurricanes are horrible.
Sometimes freezes are disasters.
Sometimes freezes are the start of something wonderful!

Speaking of history.
I spent the day reading and reviewing the situation.

Inspiration comes from many places when you are a writer and sometimes the best inspiration comes from your favorite books that too often sit on the bookcase staring back at you wondering why you don't pick them up and read them a bit. I have many bookcases yet my main one is filled with my most loved books and that's saying a lot as I love many books. I also worked as a librarian and had my first shot at books weeded and seeded from the collection! My bedroom bookcase is packed tight with the various topics of my life arranged carefully as the top shelf is my "must take with me if I ever have to leave fast favorite can't live without books" and no I am not kidding. It's a mix of history, plays and literature by various authors as well as some much loved Non-Fiction such as "The Nine Nations of America" and a book I mention often about Commodore Ralph Munroe who was one of the first people to love and write about Miami. I mention that book often as it's filled with tropical descriptions of early Miami filled with many references to it's very tropical weather. In 1953 Helen Muir wrote a book titled "Miami, U.S.A" and it's pretty much a bible for any Miami historian to own as nothing really much has changed about the reasons why people move to Miami, why they stay despite the humidity and why they love it so much. Funny how a book from 1953 is as timely today as it was when it was written even though the density and design of Miami has changed exponentially. The Nine Nations of America is as relevant today as it was when written back in the 1970s. He nailed the culture, demography and character of the U.S.A. region by region with his own boundaries which still exist including the problems of the old Foundry, Ecotopia and the Islands where he corrected placed South Florida vs Tallahassee and Jacksonville that are in Dixie. He updated the book but to me the first book is as true today as it was when it was written. Helen Muir updated her book over time as well but she nailed the Miami spirit be it people living by the bay in the 1880s or my son walking along the sea wall in Miami Shores staring out at the water, the clouds, the sky and feeling the breeze as the water laps against the sea wall at high tide.

Note Miami is part of "The Islands"
Always was, always will be.

You can update a book, but the main premise over time is what sells and makes it a classic. The Great Gatsby has had many different cover photos over time and multitudes of books have been written to explain what they think F. Scott Fitzgerald meant in his short novel but the book itself remains supremely one of the best books written on many levels. But this is about weather and Miami and hurricanes so let's move on to the book in question and why I'm writing and trying to explain to you how Miami is intricately connected in every way from the beginning with weather. Helen Muir was a writer, a reporter that did incredibly, deep detective work in her research for this book ... enough to make Lois Lane proud.

Early Downtown Miami and the Miami River.
Read the previous post for more about this trading post!
The thin line in the background is a sandbar...
... now known as Miami Beach.

One of her first references to the early settlers of Miami who lived in small settlements along the bay along the narrow rock ridge that didn't flood and made travel from place to place possible is shown below. Understand it was life back before planes flew to Miami and before trains rolled into Miami; back when the only way you could get there realistically was a schooner on it's way to Key West that put into port briefly to drop off mail by the Brickell Family Trading Post. In 1891 when my Great Great Grandfather was becoming an American Citizen or more so a "Citizen of Key West" Julia Tuttle "the Mother of Miami" was just moving permanently to the small town on the banks of the Miami River. Miami was just a dream in Julia's mind and she was determined to lure some wealthy investor down to Miami along with the railroad and her investor of choice became Henry Flagler and he did indeed extend the railroad down to Miami opening up Miami for business beyond the day to day life of a trading post. Conchs sailed over from the Bahamas and Crackers made their way down sometimes over land along the beach side using small boats to Miami from Georgia and the Carolinas, but once the railroad chugged into town Miami was on it's way to becoming a real metropolis of the future. 

"The land on which these people lived was a rock ridge, a rim of rock with the sea on one side and the watery expanse of the Everglades on the other. The land was a mere backdrop for the action which took place on the water". She goes on to describe the beauty of Biscayne Bay, the Florida Reef and tales of early pirates and wreckers. Yes wreckers in Miami not just Key West as wreckers were all the rage back in the day. The book continues on up to the early 2000s, but it's description of early Miami life and the weather is as good as it gets.

Note how Miss Helen refers to hurricanes early on in the book as more a matter of luck and bounty than danger and disaster. Also note Miami used to be very Southern with a touch of the Bahamas running through it and yes danger and disaster did come eventually in 1926. with the Great Miami Hurricane.

"Hurricane weather was a pure lark. A good hurricane would wash in plenty of wreckage: cheese and candles, soap and bags of flour, fine old wines and whisky. The popular wreck cry was "Providence, bad machinery and whisky, and worse navigation sent us one." While the men were "off wrecking" the women got together for company. The preferred wreck was one that brought "canned foods, dry goods, household furniture and baby carriages" and the one they cared for the least was a ship loaded with stuffed olives."   

Yes the early settlers who built their homes often with drift wood had wish lists for things the sea might toss up after a passing hurricane or small tropical disturbance blew providence their way. Back before the train and planes and roads that brought Model T Fords to Miami there was a schooner that went down to Key West if someone was ill or needed to catch a ship somewhere else. Miami was remote and a hurricane brought the world to you back then and still can though wrecking has gone out of style. Whether it's Floating Grouper or before that Rum Running or Smuggling Guns to Cuba to help with the Cuban War of Independence (that my Great Uncles I believe did when they were very young) South Florida has always been a place where things show up one way or the other and often a close call from a passing hurricane could toss up anything from a Grand Piano to a Baby Bassinet or food to eat or fabric to make clothes from or well you just never knew until you found it walking along the shore. Today after any big storm you see fleets of men usually holding devices sifting through the sand for someone's lost treasure. 

It's all a matter of priority and how you look at life. Jack Stark an incredible writer wrote an article about the 1926 Hurricane and his experiences in Hurricane Andrew as he lived through both of them. One of the better points he made from the 1926 Hurricane was that life went back to normal a lot faster after that hurricane than after Hurricane Andrew. The bigger a city is, the more complex it is - the harder it is to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. I read old articles in my "hurricane file" from the South Florida Historical Museum today.  Incredible, truly as in the old days when people writing long meant fluid, descriptive passages describing the ocean, the waves, the wind and the sound of the howling wind. More on that later this week but it's worth noting this passage from that article below.

"I walked the beach shoreline the afternoon before the storm, joining many others lured there by the huge waves coming in like layers of suds on green beer. Newly arrived to live in Florida, I watched in awe as red snappers and groupers were tossed ashore at my feet to flop around on the wet beach. These were reef dwellers, some of them living three miles offshore."  Note when the reef dweller fish (really fish not Square Groupers) get tossed at your feet as a storm surge is delivering foamy surf and a nonstop strong wind in your face you better have prepared to ride out the Major Hurricane where you live and pray you judged the situation accurately or have plans to get out of Dodge damn fast. I've only seen that happen a few times and it was either late in the afternoon before Hurricane Andrew arrived or when Hurricane Floyd was passing by just off shore sending sea foam like I've never seen all over the beach. Note after the 1926 Great Miami Hurricane Miami Beach was covered from the Collins Avenue to Alton Road in several feet of sad that needed to be removed, dug up and at one point the famous elephant Rosie was put to use dragging a contraption behind her to drag the sand back to the ocean. Again I'll remind you over and over Miami Beach was a sandbar covered with mangroves, swamps and a beach on the ocean side. 

The moral of this story is if any kind of grouper gets tossed up in huge quantities on Miami Beach there was usually a storm out there somewhere....

Again it's all about perspective and how one horrible, tragic, historically terrible event ends up being the reason someone, somewhere made money or history. The winter of 1894-1895 was considered the Great Freeze as freezing weather complete with snow and ice made it most of the way down the Florida Peninsular. It was kind of chilly up there in Daytona Beach and near Tampa citrus trees froze as solid as the frozen orange juice you find in the freezer in Publix. While most of Florida suffered through one of the coldest winters in recorded history Miss Julia Tuttle, a lovely, smart, cultured widow who seemed to have a great business head and knew how to flirt sent Henry Flagler a box of oranges with blossoms still in tact that had not frozen down in Miami which I've already pointed out is really part of the Islands vs the Continental United States. Officially it's the U.S.A. but in all other ways it's the Caribbean Island capital and it's most beautiful city in my opinion. South of the Lake the climate is different from the rest of Florida as it's Subtropical and Henry Flagler agreed finally to make a deal with Miss Tuttle who is forever known as the Mother of Miami.

For decades after Miami was dotted with little Fruit Stands to lure the tourist into buying fresh fruit for their vacation and to sign up to ship fresh fruit to their relatives as a present for the holidays or just a reminder that "while you were shoveling snow I got to vacation in Miami and thought to send you some oranges" and now you know the rest of the story. Yes, Miami had orange groves back then and every family I knew had at least one citrus tree in their yard when we were growing up. We had an orange tree at my Grandma Mary's house that was a pain in the ass to climb and a kumquat tree my cousin and I used to use as it provided us with greenish orange pellets to throw at each other until someone came out of the house and screamed "leave my kumquats alone!!" Years later in SW Miami we had a Key Lime tree, really a real Key Lime tree not a lemon tree nor a lime tree but a real honest to goodness Key Lime Tree; we made cold limeade often that was refreshing and much easier to make than a Key Lime Pie... 

So yes everything is a matter of perspective. To early Miami people who lived along the rock ridge near the Bay hurricanes could bring a bounty so great that people actually had wish lists for what they hoped to find after a wreck. And the Great Freeze was as horrible as it gets but for Miami it was the golden chalice or liquid gold as it convinced Henry Flagler to extend his railroad to Miami and help build Miami into the city that so many people love. Yes, people love to complain about Miami and it's crime or it's construction or it's congested highways or how it will one day become the next Atlantis yet all media outlets know that an article about Miami sells way better than say Cleveland Ohio where many early Miamians came from to escape freezing winter and breathe the healthy air and feel the beneficial breeze from Biscayne Bay.

Perspective in life is everything.

Thank you for reading along today as I take some time writing about things I love of a tropical nature. There are no hurricanes today and rather than write empty meaningless blogs saying over and over that it's June and the shear is too strong and the Saharan Dust is visiting the Caribbean taking up most of the Atlantic as it does every June and MJO may come to our basin in early July and yes the waves are strong but the shear is still strong and nothing is happening I'd rather write a bit and hope your learn a lot.

Note.........for those who were wondering it seems fronts continued to play a role in the weather as the year progressed and 1895 was indeed a busy enough hurricane season. You can see where the storms traced the High Pressure tugged North by fronts still on the move deep into the Hurricane Season. 

You can see the high.
You can see the interaction of cold fronts.
That's what it is usually all about.
Where the High ends.
Where and when cold fronts tug at tropical weather.

Something to think about........

Besos BobbiStorm
@bobbistorm on Twitter and Instagram.
Follow me there for real time updates.

Ps... After the 1926 Hurricane when the UM was first founded.
They named the football team the Hurricanes.

We are a little hurricane obsessed in Miami ;)

Miami always knows how to put on a good show !

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