The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

false alarm
Hurricane Charley has come and gone. I'll reiterate my original sentiments:

Pain. In. The. Ass.

Charley made a surprise turn and hit the Fort Myers area yesterday, then worked its way up through Orlando and Daytona Beach. The originally projected path that had it coming up into Tampa Bay was altered by an atypical August cold front. It seems the Bay area's lucky streak with hurricanes came through once again. In fact, it was the ideal scenario: Charley's landfall to the south meant that we were spared the dreaded storm surges, which even with the Fort Myers hit could have been a problem for Tampa Bay.

Ironically, Pinellas County, which was anticipated to become a virtual island with a direct hit, turned out to be the safest spot in the state. As I write this now, it's a typical day outside: Overcast, but with plenty of daylight, and no more rain than we've normally been getting.

So was all that preparation and anticipation a waste of time? Government officials and experts will tell you no. I'll tell you yes.

A coworker from northern California, who grew up with earthquakes, told me that given the choice of natural disasters, she prefers earthquakes to tropical storms. With earthquakes, there's no real warning. It just happens, and whether it's just a tremor or 10.0, you only worry about it while it's happening. There's no build-up beforehand.

With storm systems, the tracking starts days in advance, and as the pathway becomes clearer, the storm warnings increase with frequency. All the information is supposed to prepare you, but in reality, it doesn't--it just panics you. The panic is senseless, because much like an earthquake, there's very little you can do about it; the storm's going to hit, and all the preparations you make aren't going to change that. My original inclination to stay put in my evacuation area reflected that.

My cynicism about all this is reinforced by a last little bit of storm news yesterday. Just as it was established that Charley would pass us, the meteorolgists "alerted" us to the formation of two new tropical systems--off the coast of Africa. Apparently, the weathermen were still in super-action-news mode, and couldn't help but apply their panic-now tone to this rather insignificant news (all tropical storms/hurricanes here originate across the Atlantic off Africa; they either fizzle out, or become problems, but it's ridiculous to make anything of them at such an early stage).

I'm still a bit peeved at having left home yesterday. It seems that the minute I set out, Charley changed it's course. It was nice to spend some time with my friends, and watch their kids run around, but honestly, I wouldn't have minded just chilling out on my own.

At this point, I'm tired of the subject of Charley, and weather in general. I'm looking forward to retiring that weather image above for a good while. I'm also looking forward to going out tonight and partying my ass off--a great tonic for the last couple of days' hassles.