So far in this hurricane season, the Atlantic basin has been lucky. It’s been quiet. Maybe that’s the way nature balances itself after a horrendous hurricane season in 2017 that set records. That flooded Houston. Destroyed Puerto Rico’s infrastructure. Did some major damage to our house. The damage to our place is now in the process of repair – new roof, new dry board, new paint job. But Puerto Rico is still suffering and the death toll there has been adjusted – from 64 to nearly 3,000.
Synchronistically, September 10 was the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Irma and a new hurricane dominated the news – Florence. As of tonight (9-10) at 11 p.m., Florence is a cat 4 – which can have winds up to 155 m.p.h., and looks to be on track for North Carolina. She leaped from a cat 2 to a cat 4 in just a matter of hours. In satellite photos, her eye is perfectly formed and she’s big. The governor of South Carolina ordered the evacuation of that state’s 187-mile long coast and the Outer Banks of North Carolina are also being evacuated.
Since my family first moved to Florida in the early sixties, hurricanes have fascinated me. They seem like sentient beings, particularly now, when satellite imagery captures their spinning ferocity, their weird and sometimes perfect eyes. Hurricanes proved to be central characters in several of my novels –Storm Surge and Category 5 – and the novels ended up being prescient, so I no longer use them in novels.
From the National Hurricane Center’s 11 p.m. bulletin: “ The new intensity forecast calls for continued strengthening to near category 5 strength, although at a slower rate than what occurred during the last 30 h. Florence is expected to encounter southwesterly shear near the 72 h point, which could cause slight weakening before landfall. However, there remains high confidence that Florence will be a large and extremely dangerous hurricane, regardless of its exact intensity.”
One of the possibilities as Florence moves inland is buckets of rains, as much as several feet in some areas. There’s also a possibility that the storm may stall, like Harvey did in Texas last summer, and dump even more rain, creating catastrophic flooding.
There does seem to be a ray of hope in this, at least as of tonight. A system in the northwestern Caribbean, which could become a tropical storm by Thursday, may nudge Florence farther north along the coast.
To our friends and colleagues in North Carolina: stay safe!