Today’s buzz focused on a tropical storm down off Florida that’s expected to give our shores a glancing blow. Eastern North Carolina’s Outer Banks might see Arthur reborn into a hurricane, but then again the lad could push out to the open water. Could be peaches. Could be tuna. Now why do I care so much about this cluster of heavy rain, tornadoes, and thunder-boomers?
First of all, even though we’re smack dab in the middle of hurricane season, as declared by the National Weather service, we see little activity this early in the season. We hear warnings that something sitting in the middle of the Atlantic may/could/potentially/who-the-heck knows arrive in four or five days, a real ratings-grabber if you work in television. In fact, an early hurricane visited on June 4-5 in 1825, clobbering Cuba, Florida, and South Carolina. By and large, we start squirming a bit from August through late October.
What intrigues me about this storm involves its birth. It hasn’t labored enough yet to be dubbed a hurricane. Once it winds up, the next stop North Carolina, up and over the Banks, then it’s supposed to go east into open water. If I stayed awake in Emergency Preparedness class (I did), these are the storms that require careful scrutiny due to their time and distance.
The time reason involves the stopping, starting, stalling part of a storm track. Arthur might decide to bulk up in the warm water, slow down to savor the climate, or it could take off like a shot. If it takes time to graze and shift a little to left, um, well…not good.
The distance factor hails back to the old math problems we had to solve in school. If Arthur’s going 20 miles per hour, etc., etc. If he slows down or speeds up impacts planning because this guy isn’t four or five days away, he’s 24 hours away.
All is not lost. Arthur’s energy might be very good for us because we’ve been stuck in “Tomato Weather”. The hazy, hot, and humid stuff that makes me want to stay in the shower or hug the air conditioner. Dickens sits in front of it now in quiet repose. The thermometer reads 88 degrees, but the “Feels Like” temp is 95! The tomatoes have formed and I’m waiting for them to ripen a bit, but it’ll get done sooner, rather than later. Arthur promises to take tomato weather with him.
But the absolute best part of the onset a storm is this: I can tell a native New Englander by the language he uses to discuss the weather. A native doesn’t call a hurricane a hurricane. He doesn’t care of its name is Arthur or Zelda. To him what’s coming has a name “The Big Storm” or “The Big Blow”. Stories rise about past encounters involving rough seas, rotten or regal boat captains, incredible waves, and the pluses or minuses of a boat. Sitting at the local diner, guys sit along the counter swapping sea stories to the point their adrenaline levels red line. They’re going out tonight and to return before things get rough.
As the waitress places my fish and chips on the table, I look at the plate then back at the fishermen. I’m not only enjoying one of God’s creatures, but also the fruits of these brave men’s efforts in all sorts of weather.
And I thank them.