Sunday, 6 July 2014

Hurricane Season

Florida may be a warm haven in winter when snow birds leave the cold of the north for its sandy shores, but summer is an entirely different scene. I’ve been in Florida in summer, when it was so hot you could see the heat waves coming off the asphalt. I’ve also been in Florida during a summer storm.

We were driving and the rain came down so heavy the windshield wipers couldn’t clear it and the night sky gave us a frightening fireworks display of thunder and lightening. This was just a storm, scary with the wind and rain; imagine what it must be like during a hurricane?

Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean runs June 1st to November 30th.

Last Friday the first hurricane of the season hit North Carolina causing power outages and storm and flooding damage. It hit landfall at Category 2 strength. The hurricane, named Arthur, was downgraded to a post tropical storm on Saturday when it hit the Maritimes, again bringing loss of power and storm damage.

I wondered about the naming of hurricanes, was curious when they didn’t seem to be in real alphabet order. My sister, who lives in Florida, gave me an explanation. Not all storms reach, or maintain, hurricane status. According to the World Meteorological Organization a tropical storm is named if its circulation pattern and wind speeds reach 39 miles/hour. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane if the speeds reach 74 miles/hour.

There are six lists of names that are rotated so each name comes up every six years. The exception to this rule is if a storm is particularly damaging. For legal and historic reasons the name is not repeated. An example of this was in 2005. The name Katrina was retired after the devastation Hurricane Katrina’s impact had on New Orleans.

That summer in Florida began my fascination with Doppler’s, as used in weather reporting. I love to see the storms moving across the map, their colours designating, for summer, rain and thunderstorms, for winter, ice and snow. I find it amazing, the weather where I live might be clear, as the storms, winter or summer, move by us to the north or south. Or the pretty colours on the map are going to go right over us and I need to prepare.

I pay attention to the hurricanes, as I have family living on the coast of Florida. I found a site last year, the National Hurricane Centre, and found it quite interesting. They have Doppler’s showing the hurricane’s projected path, but also show the impact in wind and expected rainfall. At one time there was more than one storm brewing and it was interesting to track them with a view of the entire ocean. I’ve included the link in case you were interested.

So, the names for 2014 are Arthur, Bertha, Cristobel, Dolly and so on. If we next hear of Hurricane Cristobel you’ll know Bertha just couldn’t get up to speed. Let’s hope we don’t make a run of the alphabet this year. Winter was hard enough on the eastern seaboard and everyone could do with a break this summer.

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