Archive for September, 2008


The Name Game; Laura is wasted so what do Marco, Nana and Omar Hold in store?

The only way to have continuity is to have a standard which is not changed by the whims of agenda driven people. I honestly do not know which is worse, the failure to name the storm which came into the Carolina’s late last week or the naming of the ridiculous area of disturbed weather in the middle of nowhere today. Both decisions on the part of the NHC make a person question what standards they are using as criteria for naming storms.

At any rate, the name “Laura” has now been wasted on a subtropical storm in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean which might impact Iceland. Kyle must have forgotten his passport, for he never came close to the United States. The past week has not been a very good one for those who follow, forecast, track and name tropical systems. In all three cases, mistakes were made and the end result is that none of the three storms caused any great amount of hardship for anyone.

Our eyes must now turn to what lies ahead. All interests in the Gulf of Mexico must keep an eye on an area of disturbed weather off the Yucatan. Whether it develops into a named system or not, it promises to bring much rain to Florida this week. Not a good omen for the baseball crazed fans in Tampa.

The system marching across the Atlantic is one which stands a good chance of developing. There are other areas of disturbed weather exiting Africa which could end up turning into one of those long track hurricanes which can take a week or more to get close to our part of the world. At this time of the year, the Caribbean must be closely monitored for developing systems.

Most of the experts are thinking that there should be at least three more named storms. Whether Marco, Nana and Omar end up turning into Ike type storms or harmless ones like Laura cannot be determined at this time. Whether any upcoming storms will afflict the Gulf Coast, Florida or the East Coast is not available to know at this time. All we can do is look at the overall pattern and deduce that it is conducive to the development of tropical storms.

This year has been very active in one sense (twelve named storms), but very strange in others. Although hurricanes Dolly, Gustov and Ike did inflict major damage to Texas and Louisiana; tropical storm Fay may have actually effected more people though its relentless rain in Florida. Although the Carolina’s have been hit with two tropical storms this year, the recent no-name storm perhaps was more intense in some ways than either named storm.

What is important to understand is that October is still hurricane season. Some of the more impressive October hurricanes which stayed south of the United States were Mitch in 1998 which raked Honduras with torrential rains for days, Iris in 2001 which was a major category 4 hurricane that hit Belize and Keith in 2000 which struck Mexico twice.

The top three October hurricanes to hit the United States were Hazel in 1954 which was a huge category 4 hurricane which struck the South/North Carolina border October 15 of that year, Opal in 1993 which struck Pensacola, Florida as a major category 3 hurricane on October 4, and of course Wilma in 2005 which crashed into southwest Florida on October 24th of that infamous year.

Even though September is historically the most active month for hurricanes, October is roughly equivalent to August as far as potential for development. Due to seasonal cooling, the deeper into October we get, the more the threat shifts further south. All interests along the Gulf Coast, Florida and as far north as North Carolina must stay vigilant the next few weeks. Only after the middle of the month can this season start to be put in the archives.


Kyle and Economic Crash averted this time, but the threats are still with us

I will say this for not only the economic sector of the United States, but also the hurricane; I am beginning to believe this country is like the cat with nine lives. Once again, what could have been with Kyle will not be as bad as thought due to it staying east. Maine will certainly have a wet and windy day, but Cape Cod and nearby areas were spared—this time.

With each “near miss”, whether New England, North Carolina, Florida or New Orleans; there builds a mistaken assumption that the “really bad one” will ever hit. This is exactly what led to the whole Katrina debacle and perhaps the Ike disaster in Galveston. When it comes to nature, one must respect that as humans, we do not control it.

If a few meteorological details would have been slightly different, the two storms (Kyle and the unnamed storm) which flirted with the country the past few days could have resulted in a much worse scenario. The headlines would be quite different today if a category 1 hurricane had ripped into Wilmington, North Carolina on Friday and a category 2 hurricane tore across Long Island last night. Just as most people do not have any idea how close we came to total economic meltdown this week, so they don’t know how close we came to two hurricanes hitting the coast within two days of each other.

Congressional action prevented the economic hurricane from crushing the United States economy. Atmospheric changes in winds and pressure prevented the two hurricanes from buffeting the coastline. The economic mess is still there and after the initial hoopla over the accord reached by Congress and the White House, the underlying problems will result in another crisis down the road. Weather conditions still favor the development of tropical systems over the next few weeks.

The moral to the story is simply that we must not become complacent either in regards to the financial mess or the potential for future storms. Perhaps there is cause for rejoicing that the world’s financial markets will not crash tomorrow, but there is no reason to sit back and think “all is well” either. There is good reason to rejoice in that Kyle snubbed Martha and her vineyard and decided to check out the sights in Nova Scotia. But, Laura is bound to pop up somewhere soon and where she goes, at the moment nobody knows.

Perhaps, if we are still around to talk about it, down the road we can look back on the last weekend of September of 2008 as NOT the weekend of devastating economic storms and double hurricanes; but rather as the weekend we were temporarily spared, as a country, from the pain and suffering of three storms hitting at the same time. However great the rejoicing is today, I pray it does not lend itself to apathy in the future.


Kyle maybe visiting Marha at her vineyard and then take in Maine

Regardless of what the “official” track of Kyle looks like, the odds right now favor a direct hit on Cape Cod and then eastern Maine of a strong category 1 or perhaps even a weak category 2 hurricane. Although there is certainly a chance this storm might stay east of the United States mainland, due to the weakening of the unnamed storm which lashed the Carolina’s yesterday, Kyle should get pulled west.

The danger is that if Kyle comes any further west, suddenly Providence and Boston become targets instead of Cape Cod and Maine. Anyone with interests along the coast of New England better be getting ready for probable power outages, very heavy rain and hurricane force winds. Those who live in this part of the country are used to storms, but anyone new to the area should take heed.

Though certainly not as strong, Kyle appears to be following almost the exact path taken by Hurricane Edna in 1954. Edna was a strong category 3 storm which produced winds of 120 mph on Martha’s Vineyard. It came ashore directly on Cape Cod and then moved up to Maine. Since there are very few people still around who lived through Edna, it makes it difficult to get a good handle on possible effects of Kyle.

Barring any unforeseen developments, Kyle should produce strong enough winds to knock out power on the Cape and probably eastern Maine. Kyle should not be strong enough to produce any storm surge to speak of. There is a high risk of very heavy rain on the west side of Kyle as he tracks north. This would come into play in New Jersey, New York and New England.

Once Kyle passes, there is a bit of a calm before what should be the final “pop” of tropical development over the next couple of weeks. No one on either the Gulf or Atlantic Coastline should think the season is over. It has a been a busy season already and the final quarter may end up being more active than any before it.


What should have been Kyle hits Carolinas while the real Kyle heads for Rhode Island

In reading the pros and cons of why the storm lashing the Carolina’s at this time was never named, there is one thing for certain. The days of putting total trust in those at the National Hurricane Center are over. Whatever their agenda is, they are not running their organization in such a way to provide unbiased and helpful information to the American public.

There is a deep and simmering battle taking place between the government wanting to take over the meteorological community, the same way they are taking over Wall Street, vs. the independent agencies and forecasters who make a living providing their data to clients. Since the government only wants to promote the global warming agenda, they are making a concentrated effort to discredit private forecasters who refuse to promote the “official” line out of business.

I have to admit that there appears to be no rational reason for not naming the system which came ashore near Myrtle Beach last night. Its pressure readings were lower than the newly named Kyle out in the Atlantic. It had true tropical storm force winds and was probably stronger than Hanna was. It is a mystery known only to those in Miami as to why this storm was not named Kyle.

Once this unnamed system moves far enough inland to cease influencing Kyle (which should be Laura), there should be rapid development. Kyle is forecasted to miss the United States and hit Nova Scotia. Many private forecasters do not believe this. They still put Kyle on a track which would bring it ashore near Providence, Rhode Island. Once again, as has happened over and over again, where are the advance notices to those who may be in harm’s way as early as Saturday night?

If the “official” track of the storm carries it far out to sea and 500 miles away from the coast, why should anyone be concerned? Just as in the current situation, if there is no named storm, no one pays any attention to the bulletins which warned people in both South and North Carolina to expect hurricane force winds. Since there was no named storm, most people either ignored such warnings or never heard about them.

As a spectator on the sidelines, I do not know what is driving this intense competition between the private sector meteorologists and the government funded National Hurricane Center. All I know is that it is turning into an ugly battle and is turning personal quickly. Since the NHC has the “final word” they win in the end, but what good does it do them if they are proven to be either fools or frauds?

No one is telling us the truth in Washington, so why should be expect anyone in Miami to tell us the truth about hurricanes? Everything is all about politics, agenda and promoting causes which hold no validity when it comes to anything associated with the government. The wise person looking for honest answers better get used to looking in places outside of official government statements.

I am a highly cynical person and I generally do not believe much of anything I hear anyone officially speaking on behalf of the government has to say. I must admit that I allowed myself to become too closely attached to the “official” bulletins issued about Hurricane Ike. As it turned out, I think there was much that was not right concerning that storm, both before it hit and after. But that is a topic for another day.


Chasing Fantasies–1929 history repeating itself in 2008

I truly feel sorry for the majority of my fellow Americans. The unfortunate reality of what is transpiring, even as write this post, is either not seen or not believed by all but a few in this country. People don’t want to see, hear or talk about what is going on economically. They close their eyes to what they do not want to see, stop their ears from what they don’t want to hear and talk about trivial matters to avoid having to speak about reality. As many of you know who read these posts; I am no fan of entertainment for many reasons, not the least of which is that it is fantasy.

It is truly incredible how many people spend the majority of their lives living in a world that does not exist. Whether science fiction, romance novels, sports or computer role playing games; anyone who lives in these worlds is not living in the real world. It is perfectly fine for children to live in their “make believe” world, but it is NOT for adults. Real is real and make believe is imaginary. Never should the two be confused with each other.

I fear that what most people think is real is nothing but a mirage. We have all seen the puddles on the highway while driving, only to watch them disappear when we get near them. A mirage looks like the real thing. Many times a mirage is simply something a person WANTS to see and thus sees it. A man trudging through the desert wants to see an oasis. Lo and behold there one sits on the horizon. He musters all his strength to reach his promised land only he never gets there. He could keep walking forever and never find that oasis, for never really existed except in his eyes.

People who live chasing mirages never find them. They are as elusive as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Haven’t we all, at some point in our lives, driven in search of that pot of gold? It is never there because it does not exist. Chasing fantasies has become the great American pastime. The indelible lines which should be separating reality from fantasy have been blurred to the point most people cannot seem to tell the difference.

This country has been blessed with REAL times of prosperity. This country has also been saddled with REAL recessions and depressions. Unfortunately, those people who lived through THE depression are becoming more and more extinct. Anyone old enough to really remember the suffering that took place in the 1930’s is 80 years old or more. Anyone who was an adult during the Great Depression has to be over 90 years old. Only someone pushing 100 would have clear memories of the Stock Market crash of 1929.

The Baby Boomers parents all grew up during some part of the Great Depression. Whether they were directly impacted by the events that took place in the 1930’s or not, they all heard stories and knew people whose lives were destroyed by some aspect of the Depression era. This is why Baby Boomer’s parents all seemed to preach the same gospel of thrift, stewardship and borderline frugality. Lessons learned through enduring difficult times tend to stick with you.

Following World War II, the United States enjoyed a remarkable stretch of prosperity. This stretch of time roughly parallels the stretch of time our parents lived during the Great Depression. Thus, whereas those growing up in the depression era learned to live on less, endure hardships, take care of each other and be thankful for whatever they had; those growing up in the Baby Boom generation learned to live on credit, complain about everything, think only of themselves and feel like they never have enough.

Growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s bears no resemblance to growing up in the 1930’s and 40’s. In fact, they pretty much represent both sides of the coin. Although most Baby Boomers didn’t grow up in great affluence, most did not grow up in abject poverty either. In fact, the later in the Baby Boom generation one goes, the more prosperity people enjoyed from birth. Someone born in 1945 certainly didn’t have all the conveniences a person born in 1963 could enjoy. Although both are considered Baby Boomers, the older ones still had to endure some hardships compared to the younger ones.

I have a sister born in 1940. She is a true hybrid when it comes to economic thought and habit. She remembers vividly the tough times after the big war and the good times that began to unfold by the mid 1950’s. I have a brother born in 1945. He is a charter member of the first Baby Boom class. His memories start at the same time the better times started. He was too young to remember the hard times, but can vividly recall the transition from having little to having enough.

I was born in 1953. By the time I have any memories, the good times were in full swing. I was able to enjoy items that only the privileged were able to afford when either my sister or brother were growing up. I was able to grow up in a “normal” home in a fairly large city with nice schools. My sister grew up being shuttled from one state to another due to the war and its aftermath. My sister never did get to live in the dream house my parents finally purchased in 1958, she went away to college.

My brother barely lived in the home before getting married and finding his own place. I got to spend 13 years in one room in one house. Most people today would consider that torture. I look back and consider it stability and security. By the time I moved away in 1971 and left my parents an empty house, but to them a very comfortable, yet humble abode. They were able to enjoy the fruits of their labors and live in that home for another 28 years.

Instead of learning from our parents, the Baby Boom generation has for the most part decided to discard all their advice and “go for it all” while they can. The generation that grew up in the 1970’s and 1980’s knows nothing of the hardships their grandparents went through for their parents made sure they would never have to endure such things. They begged, borrowed and many times stole to get the very best for their children. There was no way their children would have to live in the “poverty” they lived through. This “spoiled” generation knows only prosperity and hasn’t a clue what it means to have to do without.

Now we have the current generation growing up in the roaring 90’s crazy 00’s. This generation is now so far removed from their ancient ancestors who endured the Great Depression; they know absolutely nothing about it, World War II, or even Viet Nam. All the current generation knows about the 70’s is it had cool music and weird television shows. They were born in the decade of non-stop prosperity and their parents have vowed to make sure they have all the things they were deprived of in their “Spartan” growing up years.

Because no one cares about what happened 80 years ago, history is bound to repeat itself. The similarities between this country in the late 1920’s and the present are eerily similar. In 1928, President Hoover said; “We in America are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land. The poorhouse is vanishing from among us.” A little more than a year after he said this, the United States Stock Market crashed and a worldwide depression lingered for almost 15 years.

During the Great Depression some industries made a profit. If Americans couldn’t work, they could at least go for a drive, have a cigarette or watch a movie. Sales of oil, gas, cigarettes and movie tickets all skyrocketed during the depression. People were looking for an escape. Sounds pretty similar to what goes on today if you ask me.

I pity the fool who wastes his life chasing fantasies. I pray for the fool who ignorantly goes his merry way oblivious to the doom awaiting him. I abhor the fool who though arrogance and pride, refuses to acknowledge the obvious and stubbornly continues on the path that leads only to oblivion.


Hurricane Kyle (?), Ike Relief and Recovery, Lack of Media Attetion and General Needs

Why the storm buffeting North Carolina with hurricane force winds is not named is a mystery known only to the government agency which is responsible for such things. If something walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it probably is a duck. It is quite fascinating to have warnings issued for hurricane force winds (for a coastal area) and there not even be a tropical storm.

The next storm, once it finally gets moving will head due north and probably pay Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine a visit. These areas are prone to minor hurricanes, and that is what this storm (Kyle whenever named) will probably be.

The next three weeks should provide some interesting developmental opportunities for new storms. Where these storms form and hit along with their timing is at the moment pure speculation. The point is that meteorologically, the conditions are very similar to when we saw Fay, Gustov, Hanna and Ike form in rapid fire succession.

The fear among many who look at and study weather is that no matter what might happen, it will be a minor story due to the big “save the economy” news out of Washington. The horrible situation in Texas and Louisiana has already fallen victim to bigger and greater news. Any legitimate threat of an approaching storm would surely suffer the same fate.

The worst time to be struck by a hurricane is the final month of a Presidential campaign that is being hotly contested. Add in the historic events happening with the economy this year and what has happened with post-Ike media coverage will be the norm for future storms.

I was speaking with an associate who continues to help those devastated by Hurricane Katrina the other day. I told this person that if “Katrina #2” did indeed strike the central Gulf Coast this fall, not to expect even 20% of the new coverage, let alone the offers to help that came after Katrina. The will and ability of Americans is just not there to help like they did three years ago.

Isn’t it amazing how those who need help the most receive the least? There are precious few news stories coming out of Ike affected areas, and those that are done are always about Galveston. All the other areas of the coast from Beaumont, Texas to Grand Isle, Louisiana receive ZERO attention. It is these areas where just like after Katrina and Rita three years ago, hundreds and thousands of people will “fall through the cracks” and be left to fend for themselves.

I feel badly for anyone who lost their home or had it badly damaged by Gustov or Ike. But my heart aches for those who lost their home or had it badly damaged and to this date, no one knows about it. Those who somehow fall through the cracks and receive no aid from FEMA, Red Cross, Salvation Army or any other government or private organization are the people I care most about.

Mainly senior citizens or those with disabilities, the people who fall through the cracks after a hurricane are usually the same ones who fall through the cracks every day of the week. These situations present very difficult cases for those who try and help people on a daily basis. Yet, if someone does not at least try to locate and extend to these people the offer of help; they will suffer the most after a storm.

Yes, many of these folks reject the very idea of help out of pride. They take pride in their independence and look at charity as a sign of weakness. Yet, there comes a time, especially when their home is falling down on top of them, that they finally accept offers of help. These cases many times provide caregivers with the most rewarding success stories.

Americans must remember that in rural areas, especially in southern Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, there are many times no organized services made available for seniors, those with disabilities and those too poor to afford public services. Many locations have nothing like a “senior center” to provide daily meals or a service to deliver meals to homebound seniors. Many areas have no form of transportation available to get those who are elderly, disabled or poor to doctor’s visits or even to get to the store.

These are interesting times in which we live and are bound to get even more interesting in the coming month to six weeks. God help us all to stay strong, alert and aware of changing situations and needs.


Ike Fatalities, Gustov Devastation, New York Hurricane Threat; Where is the Media Attention?

To say that I am shocked would be a gross understatement. To say that I am surprised would not be true. To say that I am disgusted would perhaps best describe how I feel about the change in media policy toward covering REAL NEWS.

In a matter of three weeks, this country has been rocked by two major hurricanes along with a powerful tropical storm. Before this month is over, there will be storm lash the Carolina’s which will be as strong as most tropical storms. Before this month is over, there will be a hurricane of undetermined intensity strike either New York or New England. Where is the coverage of any of this in the news? It is not there.

The media has determined that they devoted enough time and space to Hurricane Ike coverage and have moved on to the greener pastures of the Washington economic bail out and the continuing fake news on the political front. Once most of Houston got their power back on and once the citizens of Galveston were allowed to at least see what became of their homes; the media figured their job was done and they were gone. The problem is that unless there remains a media presence, the American people quickly forget about a situation due their collective attention deficit disorder.

It seems the American public cannot focus on anything longer than a few hours. I would venture to say that the overwhelming majority of Americans have totally forgotten about Hurricane Gustov and are quickly forgetting about Ike. A few days removed from the front page and most stories are distant history.

The unfortunate reality when it comes to disaster relief is that the real work comes long after everyone things the work was all done. The tasks of repairing, rebuilding and restoring buildings and lives takes an enormous amount of time, work and money. Recovery from a major disaster entails far more than just pumping water out of a flooded basement or fixing a few shingles on the roof.

When I first visited New Orleans 8 months after Katrina hit one of the things that stood out most to me was the lack of retail businesses needed to repair, rebuild and restore. I made many trips to the one Home Depot that was open and waited in lines for upwards of two hours. There were few Wal-Mart’s and Targets open for months and even fewer grocery stores and restaurants. Part of the problem in New Orleans was the lack of people to work at these places.

If the majority of people in an area have had to leave due to major destruction, there of necessity will be a labor shortage for the few places trying to open. Another issue is where the evacuees are staying. If the area is demolished, they are not going to be staying in the area. They will be anywhere from a few miles to a continent away. Yet another problem is lack of reliable contractors and laborers to do the work.

Once debris removal is complete, the first thing that must be done to damaged homes and buildings is the removal of damaged drywall. The “gutting” out of structures is absolutely necessary to keep mold from taking over the dwelling. After Katrina, crews of volunteers from all over the United States descended on New Orleans and Mississippi just to gut all the structures which received water damage. When it comes to gutting, the need is volunteers and not supplies.

The next thing that must be addressed are the roofs. Immediately after a storm, blue tarps are put on damaged roofs to prevent moisture from getting in and ruining drywall and to prevent mold from growing. Logically, there is great need initially for roofing supplies and roofers. I am sure that there is a growing shortage of both supplies and workers in the roofing industry in Louisiana and Texas.

After roofs are fixed then, and only then, can the rebuilding stage start. It is utter folly to start repairs inside the house before the roof is repaired. Once the roof is finished, then a contractor must determine if the floor is ruined. Usually flooring is the next side of things to need supplies and workers. Notice how with each step of restoration the job becomes more expensive and labor intensive? Along with flooring comes electrical wiring and plumbing issues. Of course before all this are infrastructure needs that must be addressed.

Finally, after the roof, infrastructure, floors, electric and plumbing are done; then the time consuming and very expensive task of putting up new drywall starts. Even when that is done there remains the replacement of furniture, carpeting and drapes. The entire process of restoring a severely damaged building is very expensive and time consuming.

In the months and years after Katrina, there were constant shortages of building supplies that matched the progress being made. Initially there were shortages of lumber and roofing materials. Then there were shortages of flooring materials. Finally, the biggest shortage of all was drywall. Even once the literal shortages were relieved, there remained a dire shortage of qualified workers to do the work.

If the media had not kept the attention of America focused on Katrina for many months, there would not have been the continual outpouring of donated goods and volunteer services that continue unto this day. Yes, it has been three years since Katrina and there are still people either waiting for insurance money to get their home repaired or volunteer agencies to help when there was no money available.

The myths in disaster recovery are as follows:

1. Everyone has insurance and thus have the means to get repairs made

2. The area is flooded with reputable contractors and supplies

3. All the work is done and finished in a few weeks or months

4. Volunteers are only needed at the beginning of the relief effort

5. Donations of goods and money are only needed directly after the disaster

The great secret to success in disaster relief and recovery depends in part upon governmental agencies doing their part, private businesses doing their part and service groups and charities doing their part. It takes a team effort to see prompt and proper disaster relief, repair, rebuilding and restoration. The catalyst for this is constant media attention. It is truly a shame the media has chosen to leave the victims in Louisiana and Texas to fend for themselves.