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Florida in the dark and hoping

Hurricane Ivan is taking aim at the area of Florida where Tom lives and it just isn't much fun there right now. I asked Tom how they were doing - here's his reply:

You cannot imagine the tension in the air around Florida with # 3 on its way. It is terrible if you get hit by one, but that is only the aftermath. Waiting and wondering and doing without electricity (2 days for us with Frances) is a real psych burden.

Try being totally boarded up (windows and doors) and then no electricity - it is like being in a casket. Believe me it is DARK. Still over 1 million homes in Florida without electricity from Frances. We still have 2100 in Sarasota without electric.

You debate whether to leave, but that is not easy when you really don't know where the storm is going and add the heavy traffic and gasoline shortage here. It is not a fun situation.

And here's the 11 pm long-range forecast map from the National Hurricane Center. (Click to enlarge.)

A similar 5-day forecast for Frances proved right on target - but, of course, Charley was heading this way, then took a sudden swerve to the right and hit quite a bit south of where predicted.

Hurricanes do tend to come in bursts, but 3 in a row this close together would be very unusual.

Remember that we got four in two years - Carol came in August of 1954, then 11 days later Edna came (mostly hit the Cape and Islands) and then later still that year Hazel took a near miss on New England going up New York and causing some damage in Western Mass. Then in 1955 Diane did very serious flooding damage, though I think it hit at low tide so there was no tidal surge. But the inland flood was incredible and very costly.

We got another hurricane in 1960, then went for 25 years before a very mild one hit (1985) well to the west along the New York border (Gloria), and then in 1991 Bob hit, but was relatively small, quick, and hit at low tide.

The point is, we had four in our vicinity in two years - another one five years later, and then for the next 44 years we only got one that amounted to anything. And if you look at a single community, such as Barrington, of all those the only one to cause serious damage was Carol. But hurricanes are flukey - both in terms of individual storms and the pattern of storms. There are some detectable, long-range trends - like many hitting the Atlantic coast for several years, then switching and for the next several years they seem to all hit in the Gulf coast - but I'm not sure these trends are of much help in forecasting.

In any event, maybe Ivan will go somewhere else entirely. Let's hope so. Florida has had enough.

Posted by Greg Stone at September 10, 2004 12:58 AM
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