Thursday, May 17, 2007

Aqua Roulette or Why I Hate the Weather Man

Previously on JunglePete's Everglades Adventure -

I don't know why subscribers received a recap of the the first ten blogs. I had nothing to do with it, but apparently at least one of you enjoyed them again like fond childhood memories of H.R.Puffenstuff and Ooops All Berries Captain Crunch. You liked it so much the first time, you had to have more.

The 9th Florida Panther was struck and killed just off of the interstate on Tuesday. The record for vehicle caused fatalities was 11 in 2006. I would imagine that record will be broken.

Funny thing about forecasts. This afternoon I went to a speech by Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel.

He's the guy on TWC usually standing somewhere around the gulf of Mexico when a massive hurricane is about to hit. Never mind the storm surge, the 75 mph winds and the shingles flying by. He wants you to know it's dangerous!

He was announcing the 2007 Hurricane Report for about 500 members of the Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce. (chamber meetings....and you thought Red Algae was fascinating!) His estimates were a bit more tempered than the official report of 17 major storms for this year. He predicts 10. Of course last year they predicted 15 and there were 0 so the margin of error seems to be +/- 15.

His message was that hurricanes are still impossible to predict. His goal is to make sure people "get out of the way". Except for him. And despite the fact that it's hard to know where they will hit. So really just be prepared. Evacuate if you need to and don't if you don't have to. Depends on where the storm will go. Predictions say north into the gulf but it could turn at any moment. Keep watching your TV and if Jim Cantore is outside of your house you probably should have evacuated.

In 2005 after Katrina, leery Texas residents evacuated in droves as Hurricane Rita bore down on the Lone Star State. (Don't mess with Texas does not apply to acts of God.) More people lost their lives on the evacuation routes than from the actual hurricane. Moral of the story? Don't evacuate? Or maybe just don't watch the weather channel. It may cause freak outs.

If traffic was bad with millions of people on the roads during "the season", imagine what it will be like with 6 million people trying to go north. Or east if Jim Cantore tells us to. Or just get away from the storm or don't evacuate. It's really up to you. Just stay tuned. It's all too confusing and really a game of aqua roulette. Where will the rain and storm surge hit? Spin the wheel of doom!

Typically we get about 12 inches of rain from November to May (aka the dry season) Over the last 6 months, south Florida has experienced one of the worst droughts and until Monday we have had 3.5 inches of rain. Fires have scorched millions of acres across the state and many were hoping for a tropical storm to bring rain. Fortunately the rainy season has begun and the official start of the hurricane season begins June 1st. We have received nearly 7 inches of rain since Monday which has suppressed many fires and extinguished the chants for a tropical storm.

As meteorological forecasting technology becomes more sophisticated we seem to have less accurate forecasting. Maybe it is just me. Personally I like how they predict weather in Ecuador - with the weather rock seen below attached to the green rope.

If the rock is swinging - it is windy
If the rock is wet - it is raining
If the rock is violently shaking - there is an earthquake.
and so on...

We can't predict very well where hurricanes will hit until they are far too close. We have too many people living directly in the paths of hurricanes. Here at Casa Pedro y Ma-Le we're preparing our hurricane plan, but the best prepared person has to prepare for the least prepared person as well, because when water, gas, food and other necessities are in short supply, the unprepared look to the prepared. It makes me a bit nervous.

I have lived in Florida for 28 years of my life and have yet to experience a hurricane. (Got a tropical storm in Vermont in 1998 though!). Here's hoping I still don't this year. As for the 17 predicted major storms? Let's hope the weather man is wrong as usual.....

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