It’s always fascinated me, weather. I love watching a storm, darkening clouds, oddly colored sky, brilliant flashes and rumbles far away. For a while I used to think I could predict weather from clouds. If I saw mare’s tails (cirrus clouds) I knew it would rain within 2-3 days and it usually did. “Ring around the moon, rain before noon” sometimes worked, not always. Killing a spider is believed to bring rain, and most everyone knows the biblical “red sky at night, sailor’s delight… red sky at morning, sailor take warning” (Matthew 16:2-4).
But hurricanes? Growing up in the south I’ve encountered them but usually on the tail end at a beach vacation. Plenty of rain, gusty wind and stinging sand. Then Hurricane Hugo in September 1989, a category 5 when it hit Charleston, SC then a 2 or 3 when it hit where my son and I lived, Charlotte, NC. Knocked a pine tree on the roof of my car. My son came and woke me (yes, I slept through it up till then) telling me he was blind. I could not understand this until I heard the screaming wind outside and things cracking (said pine tree). The only light you could see was the occasional flash of lightning silhouetting trees and buildings. I walked outside (yes, half asleep without thinking) to listen to the car radio since clearly there was going to be no television (no idea at that time it would not be for two and a half weeks) to try and get some weather. Just music, but I did notice how I had suddenly become much taller until I realized it was actually my car roof, stove in by the pine tree. I went back to the house, my son was crying his eyes out at the door. Evidently it frightened him that I would walk out into such a maelstrom. At least by now he realized he’d not lost his eyesight.
Then I moved to north Florida in 2003. All summer long people talked about how the hurricanes, if they happened, weren’t bad until August or September. We had none of any consequence that year but 2004? I can recall a few, one that kept dropping tornadoes a few blocks from the library where I worked, and another that sat over the entire state of Florida for what seemed like weeks, soaking us with feet of water.
The next year, 2005 I moved to Miami. There were more storms, we seemed to be constantly throwing those hurricane shutters up and taking them down, and of course Katrina and Rita. The worst for me was not so much the coming storm but, though we were under mandatory evacuation being east of I-95 and US 1 I would not leave because I knew what those evacuations are like, I’d rather just stay in my home than be stuck on the highway at the worst of the storm, and shelters did not permit pets at all at that time. No way was I going to leave and not keep my doggies safe. We lost electricity from Rita for about 6 days. Not bad, but in south Florida the humidity is relentless and you really do miss air conditioning when you don’t have any.
So I moved again to a coastal town in North Carolina. This time not for work but retirement. Last year we had a couple of tropical storms, no hurricanes that bothered us. So far this year looked to be about the same.
So hurricane Matthew briefly a category 5 (the worst measured storm), now a 4, meandering west over the Caribbean, is a very ambitious storm about to make a sharp right north to mow down Hispaniola, Jamaica, Cuba, the Bahamas all by Tuesday. The track according to the national hurricane center so far shows it on a bee-line course for the little part of coastal NC where I live.
This does not necessarily have to be where it goes. A little high-pressure system could spin it right back out over the Atlantic, where its cousins Karl and Lisa just flew off to. But right now we are sitting under much more rain and humidity, a low pressure that has socked itself in for several days. As if TS Julia and her rains for 3 weeks weren’t enough for us. Still, anything can happen with weather. As they say, don’t like the weather here? Wait a minute.