So, after all the ranting and raving about possible horrible scenarios with Hanna; it turned out to be very strong tropical storm/weak category 1 hurricane after all. Once again, this points out the two-edged sword of forecasting. On one side all available data can lead to a landfall forecast that ended up being exactly where forecasted 5 days in advance; but on the other hand, the intensity forecasts went from a category 3 hurricane to a tropical storm.
I was speaking tonight with an associate in the Mobile, Alabama area who said the prevailing attitude among the people down there is one of anger at the weather forecasters for making them board up their homes and evacuate. They are saying there is no way they will go through that again. The scary thing is that this is exactly what led to the Katrina disaster to begin with. Frustrated people who vowed to ride out “the next one” based on slight errors regarding Ivan and other hurricanes.
However understandable this mentality is, it is suicidal in the end. However frustrated we all get with those who forecast and telecast those forecasts, we cannot allow that frustration to manifest itself as utter stupidity. In the winter, we are led to believe we are going to get buried with two feet of snow only to get a dusting. In the spring we are told to prepare for tornadoes and it never even rains. We all know how frustrating it is when forecasts go awry.
The simple truth of the matter is that if a person wants to live near the ocean, it is with the understanding that periodically there will be hurricanes and tropical storms. There will also be rumors of storms, unnecessary evacuations and power outages. These are just the price to be paid for the benefit of the coastal environment.
Hanna was never a busted forecast storm. There were many who thought it might intensify before reaching the coast, but it never did due to speed more than anything else. Once a tropical storm starts moving as fast as Hanna is moving, the chances of it having time to develop into a huge storm are slim. A person could hardly drive much faster than Hanna will be going tomorrow and Sunday.
Ike is the all consuming story for the next week. All models are now taking Ike through the southern Bahamas and either into northern Cuba or between Florida and Cuba and then into the Gulf of Mexico. All models curve Ike to the northwest after passing Cuba/Florida. With each model run, it is appearing that the Gulf Coast may have to deal with Ike by the middle of next week.
Personally, this far out, I think it is impossible to know what Ike is going to do besides be a MAJOR hurricane for someone. Whether Florida or the central Gulf Coast or even the Texas coast; someone is going to feel the full brunt of what could be the most powerful hurricane to hit the United States since Wilma in 2005.
Since there is still plenty of time to prepare, those with an interest anywhere from Houston to Boston should simply keep an eye on Ike this weekend to see if there is any changes to its track. Please join with me in prayer that if nothing else, Ike stays away from Haiti. That poor nation cannot endure much more with totally falling into a state of complete chaos and anarchy. The suffering going on in that country at this time is beyond the ability of anyone in this country to comprehend.
I sense a lot of fear on the part of people who have never lived through, or lived through only one hurricane. Fear is not good, but a healthy respect for the power of a hurricane is good. Preparation usually eliminates fear, for fear creeps in when unknown circumstances arise with no apparent escape. That is why the full spectrum of hurricane preparation is vitally needed. It is not just having some extra beer in the fridge or few extra cans of beans in the pantry.
A full array of questions need to be asked of each member of the family to ever arrive at the perfect hurricane preparedness kit. Each person has different needs and wants and as much as can fit needs to be placed in a box and labeled “hurricane”. When the time comes to evacuate, the box is ready except for perishable food.
Part of preparation is having an escape route and having the funds to get to and back from where you are going. It is incredible how many people are stranded in various southeastern states who evacuated from Louisiana and Mississippi and do not have any money to get home. We are talking tens of thousands of people stuck in horrible shelters without the funds to purchase gas to get home. God forbid they finally get home and are forced to evacuate again for Ike.
The next 48 hours will tell us what Ike is thinking. From Sunday evening forward, certain people somewhere will have to start the dreaded process of evacuating, physically preparing for and wondering if it was all worth it. Rather than heaping scorn on these people, let us resolve to offer prayers for them. They will surly need them.