There are uncanny parallels between the weather reporting of impending hurricanes and impending blizzards. I lived in New England for my entire life, until I moved to South Florida 14 years ago. I thought it was only crazy, ( They would call themselves “hardy”) New England reporters who stood out in the worst nature had to offer, bundled up in knitted caps that covered all but the mouth needed to speak into a microphone, to tell us what our eyes could clearly see…….It was snowing………..hard. These reporters, who could not possibly have been paid enough money to stand (barely, since the wind was strong enough to knock them down) out in sub-zero temperatures, garbed in heavy parkas, double padded mittens, and knee-high boots, had to wonder if this is the exciting news scoop with which they were teased by overzealous professors in journalism school. Is this how I earn my Pulitzer Prize?
Worst still, was when the “impending” storm took days to develop and whirl its way into our viewing area. That meant we were subjected to the same reporter, standing in sunny, warm ( 40 degrees is warm for a New England winter), weather, desperately seeking a snow event to report. We were told of every snowflake sighted; we were shown snow on the grass and admonished not to get complacent…………..it would soon pile up on the highways, making them dangerous and slippery. After 3 days of such non-event reporting, the meteorologists finally threw in the towel and admitted that the storm had bypassed us. Back to regular programming. Until the next forecasted blizzard.
Now here I am in Florida, where undoubtedly, there have been catastrophic hurricanes, so as soon as a tropical wave is spotted off the coast of Africa ( Africa is pretty far from Florida, folks, but it never hurts to be prepared), our TV meteorologists go into high gear and start warning everyone to stock up on water, non-perishable foods, medications, and in this Coronavirus pandemic world …….face masks and hand sanitizers. We are inundated with graphics of Error Cones, those brightly colored charts showing which areas are under Hurricane Watches, Warnings, and Direct Land Fall.
An Error Cone, for the uninitiated, is a line around an area that will potentially be affected by the storm in some manner. We are told when to put up the hurricane shutters…………usually when our area is under a Warning, not a Watch. All good advice. But as with the New England blizzards, we viewers spend days…………and days…………..and days………….watching the intrepid reporters desperately trying to find weather to talk about. We watch as reporter #1 stands on the shores of Vero Beach and says……………..look at that wave. There’s a wave coming. Well, yes, we say to ourselves. There are waves in the ocean, and sometimes, depending upon wind conditions, the waves are higher than at other times. Switch to Reporter # 2 on Jupiter Beach- It’s sunny here now, a beautiful beach day, but there is a cloud up in the sky, signaling the coming of bad weather. Switch to Reporter #3 in a neighborhood in Port St. Lucie – It rained heavily here an hour ago. Look at the puddles.
Understand that this coverage goes on 24/7 for as many days as it takes for the storm to actually hit our area.
Then, if the hurricane does hit us, IF we still have power, you can be 100% sure that we will see reporters holding onto poles, as 100 mile an hour winds try to pry them from their chokehold and whisk them into the air, telling us that the winds are dangerous. They will be pelted with a deluge of rain, soaking through their hooded slickers and knee-high boots. We will watch this and remember the year Al Roker of the NBC Today Show was knocked down by a huge gust of wind while reporting that…………..it was windy.
So, readers, I admit that it was a bit disconcerting when ______insert any name____was a POSSIBLE Tropical Depression one day, and the next day, we were warned that it was a Category 1 Hurricane that would hit us the following day. There was hardly time to line up at Costco for water and storm essentials ( like potato chips and chocolate chip cookies).
I am always well stocked with water. I have been cooking up the meat in my freezer since Hurricane Season began on June 1. I cook it, then freeze it, so if I lose power for an extended period of time, my friends and I will have plenty to eat. I have Accordion Shutters, which are permanently installed on the windows, and all you have to do is unlatch them, pull them shut, and re-latch them. It’s very easy, and quick, unlike the panels that weigh more than a mack truck and require the strength of a bodybuilder to haul and install.
Yesterday, I dragged my patio furniture inside the house, closed my shutters, and turned on the TV. As expected, I was subjected to reporters sitting at desks, warning us that the storm would hit our area at midnight. Reporters out on various beaches opining about the waves. Press conferences by the electric company, the governor, and one of the Emergency Agencies, all telling us to be prepared.
I was prepared. My friends, with whom I kept in touch by phone calls and texts, were prepared.
We waited. And waited. At every update, we were told that the storm was coming. Give the reporters credit. They tried to keep the suspense at high levels, but by this morning, even our meteorologist gave up, calling the storm an unorganized mess that would bring us some rain and wind.
BUT………. Not to be daunted by a failed storm, our reporters put a positive spin on 3 days of anticipation, preparation, and worry. Consider this good practice for the next storm, they said. I guess so, I told myself as I unlatched and folded back the shutters, dragged the patio furniture back outside, gathered up all of the flashlights, and placed them back into the drawers. Until next time.
****Note: I am not downplaying the seriousness of dangerous hurricanes, nor am I advocating non-preparedness. It is ALWAYS better to be prepared for these storms. I am simply injecting a little humor into our lives, as is the stated purpose of this blog – a whimsical look at everyday events.