Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Nature's Last Hurrah

Hurricane season is over, but it looks like Mother Nature might be throwing us one more curveball. In a year so busy with storm activity that it has tied the record, we're watching yet another hurricane. Wilma, as it has been dubbed, is looking more and more likely to visit to the Sunshine State.

We've on the east side of the state, and it looks like Wilma would approach from the west. Still, she brings the potential for a good soaking and some wicked windstorms. Right now the forecast is a little hazy, but virtually all the projections I've seen have Fred's wife's namesack paying us a call.

With the beautiful, sunny weather we've been having all week, it's hard to imagine a hurricane blowing into town. While it's still hot during the day, there is a decided chill in the air overnight. Usually, by the time autumn nippiness rolls around, the hurricane danger has faded. Sure, hurricane season doesn't officially end until November 30, but traditionally August and September are the peak times. By October, storm fears have given way to Halloween plans and a nagging feeling that Christmas is lurking around the corner.

In church this past Sunday, our pastor, Patrick, asked for a show of hands of people who had assembled a hurricane readiness kit. Not even ten hands went up. In a congregation that had been battered by Charley, Frances, and Jeanne just 12 months earlier, there appeared to be a prevailing sense of "it can't happen again...not two years in a row."

I must confess that we are among the unprepared. e don't have all of the items that the state suggests, but we're not totally unprepared either. We have a battery-operated weather radio that turns on automatically in case of an urgent alert. We keep a large stock of bottled water on hand, so we'd be well hydrated even though we wouldn't have a scrap of food to eat (at least not after the Campbells "Soup at Hand" drinkable containers ran out). Of course, we usually have a big supply of dry cat food and bird seed, so I supposed we could fight off Bradley and the cats if we were desperate enough. With 650 gallons in the hot tub, we could keep the toilets flushed.

Our living quarters would probably be rather small, since we have windows in every room except the upstairs hallway and the "Harry Potter bathroom" under the stairs. Since being on the second floor is not a good idea when a storm is threatening to rip off the roof, we'd all be smashed in downstairs around the toilet.

But I don't think Wilma will cause any such need. Hopefully she will turn away altogether, but failing that, she should at least weaken onces she makes landfall. I think we'll just be in for a day or so of bleak gray skies and driving rain.

At least we haven't reached the Greek alphabet yet. Once the storm names for a particular year run out, the nomenclature shifts to Alpha, Beta, etc. Wilma is the very last traditional name for this year, so if a late sibling is spawned, we will enter the alphabetic names for the first time in history.

Oh well, the storm clouds may be gathering, but I'm going to enjoy the sunshine now. We'll lay in a good stock of snacks and wine (i.e. the necessities of life for the homebound); they may not be items on the state's list of suggested hurricane supplies, but they'll certainly make the rainy exile more pleasant.

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