When the Wind Blows

So, let’s recap: This year, two major hurricanes that with barometric pressures that put them in the top five of recorded major hurricanes, and a third one that is — from initial readings anyway — the all-time most intense storm in the Atlantic. I think this is a perfect time to break out the "what the hell?" face. Also note that we’re already on "W" in the naming scheme for hurricanes, and there’s still six weeks to go until the end of the 2005 hurricane season. We go to the Greek alphabet from here; I’m putting money on hitting a storm named Gamma before I clear off the dishes at Thanksgiving dinner.

This new storm seems to be targeting Florida, which makes it the fourth or fifth time in the last year or so that it’s been whacked by hurricanes, and for that they have my sympathy. I do wonder, if we are indeed entering an era of increased hurricane activity in the Atlantic, if we’ll reach some sort of bend in the curve, where there’s a net drain of people leaving Florida and other Gulf states because they’ve gotten tired of rebuilding after getting flattened twice or three times in a decade. I suppose that might be good news for Kansas and other plains states, who could use a few new warm bodies.

"Kansas: Hurricane free or your money back!" They do have tornadoes, mind you. But the destruction cone there is so much smaller. The odds are in one’s favor, really.

All this disaster stuff does make me increasingly glad I live in Ohio, where the major natural catastrophe one has to worry about is boredom. And you never hear about massive storms of boredom knocking houses off their foundation. At least not since the advent of cable TV and the Internet, anyway.

28 thoughts on “When the Wind Blows

  1. I know you’ve been here a few years but apparently you’ve yet to see a real southwestern Ohio summer. As a resident of Dayton for most of my life, on and off, I assure you that tornadoes are also a problem in Ohio. The Xenia tornado was one of the worst in history. I was four and I remember my mother putting all three kids in the bathtub with a mattress on top of us (central room, no basement).

    Not that tornadoes really compare to hurricanes, but weather-wise I think Indiana is the boredom state.

  2. No, no, we get the tornado watches as well (such weather usually has to go through Darke County to get to other counties in Ohio). But they’re reasonably infrequent.

  3. How much you want to bet Cleveland is using this as a marketing tool.

    “Cleveland: Fresh water sea, non-flammable river, and no hurricanes*”

    *Storms that eat iron ore freighters hole notwithstanding. The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down…

  4. Years ago a friend who had moved to California from Michigan told us he wouldn’t come back to visit between November and May – he said whenever he saw a Christmas card with a pretty snow scene all he could think of was car crashes. I’ll take our snow and tornadoes over earthquakes and hurricanes anytime!

    But Cleveland itself has dreadful weather – everything is aimed right at it – spent one weekend at an artists’ residency there a few years ago and we had thunderstorms, snow, sleet, hail and a power outage – all in one evening. :::ducking to avoid whatever is being thrown at me by cleveland residents!:::

  5. Well, I live in the center of the Caribbean and what with all these ‘canes spinnin’ about the globe it is close to a mirracle that not a single one has hit here. Okay, we were shaved a few times and Katrina left a few puddles behind. Still, compared to the rest of the globe we seem to get all the luck.

    .Alec

  6. As long as Cleveland doesn’t mention the Snow Belt in their marketing.

    “Your house won’t be felled by hurricanes and, if you REALLY love your house, you might get buried in it for three days or so during the winter.”

  7. My wife (a former resident of Lorain) has this to say about your take on “massive storms of boredom”…

    “Obviously he has never lived in a trailer park in Xenia”

  8. Three years ago, I had to abandon my car and lie in the pouring rain in a ditch because a tornado decided to walk up my street. Ah, Indiana! *And* we’re on the New Madrid faultline, so we get earthquakes, too.

    Perhaps Michigan is weatherboring. Except for the blizzards…

  9. It’s a fair bet that some of the same factors that are increasing hurricane forces this year may, in fact, also do the same for other global phenoms, like tornadoes.

    “Heavy Weather” anyone?

  10. Saundra we get tornados here in Michigan too – and my previous laptop was done in by a lightening airburst so near that it degaussed our television despite a heavy duty surge supressor

  11. “Obviously he has never lived in a trailer park in Xenia”

    Well, that goes without saying. Trailer parks attract tornados regardless of location.

  12. bleeve it or not, the strongest, most sustained earthquake i ever experienced was in columbus ohio (mind you, i’ve lived in san francisco for seven years.) no lie.

  13. Kansas may be hurricane free but as Mayor Bill Bunten of Topeka, Kansas has to say, “I find it offensive. It’s probably drawn up by somebody from West Virginia who hasn’t been here” after learning of a Hallmark birthday card with the title CSI: Topeka and a cartoon of two people standing over a corpse. One of the people says, “Looks like he was bored to death…”.

  14. From what I’ve been reading lately, natural disasters aren’t really increasing all that much (geological stuff like earthquakes and volcanos are stable in number, while hydro-meteorological disasters like floods and hurricanes have risen in frequency somewhat, possibly due to global warming).

    It’s just that so many more people are living in places that were once largely unihabitated due precisely to their tendency to shake, burn, drown, fly off into space or otherwise succumb to Mother Nature’s nastier snits.

    And, of course, with human habitation comes vastly increased death tolls and enormously inflated costs associated with property loss, revenue loss and other human-economic functions. It’s not that big a deal (except to those directly involved) if a hurricane blows away the homes of a small tribe of people living in easily replacable grass huts. It’s another thing altogether when that handful of rustling habitation have been replaced with billion-dollar hotels, piled-high condos with platinum bath fittings and luxury homes that probably employ more people on a day-to-day basis than were accounted for by the original tribe on the spot.

    Basically, like related disaster-prone areas, places like California, Florida and Hawaii have always been targets. But in the last 100-some-odd years, mankind has take to painting large, solid gold circles in the center of those targets and daring Ma Dirt to take her best swing.

    You know what they say about being careful what you ask for…

    (Hint: if your home requires expensive and specialized construction methods or materials to ward off violent and generally accepted as unusual natural phenomenon as a prerequisite for getting even basic homeowner’s insurance – that’s your cue to leave. Now. And don’t look back.)

  15. it all seems very biblical to me – hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, pestilence (bird flu) – what a year.

    all that’s missing are the cow (return of bse) and frogs from the sky.

  16. Well rumor has it that there are 9 cows with BSE in South Dakota (sorry, can’t remember where I saw this but it was a reputable news souce yesterday) and there was an outbreak of exploding frogs in Germany earlier this year. The latter was caused by crows figuring out that a well placed peck to the liver resulted in frog puree when the frogs were dropped. Truly.

    maybe not biblical but definitely evidence of animal intelligence. My brother lives in Germany and it got quite a lot of press there as you could imagine.

  17. Leslie,

    It will stay rumour as long as the testing methods stay the same. The assumption has been that we should only test “downers” or animals that have neurological symptoms.

    Some researchers have come to conclusion that the many prion-based animal-bourne diseases can actually be present in otherwise healthy looking animals. Of course, this means these animals are making it into the food supply.

    Some countries are testing all animals as a result of this, though most just take a random sampling at the slaughterhouse (which is why Canada has detected BSE in the last few years since enforcing random sampling of herds) or just test the downers.

    We haven’t seen the end of this one yet. I do know one thing: based on the evidence we’ve collected on the pathology of some of these diseases, BSE and friends are already in US food supplies, and has been for some time. Even with the 1 in a million infection rate for some prion-based diseases, some of us are already sick.

    Bottom line: if you look for BSE, you will find it.

  18. Deadbeef –

    no question. I recommend Richard Rhodes’ wonderful and terrifying book “Deadly Feasts” to everyone.

  19. This is why I don’t get all the people leaving the northeast and mid-Atlantic for the South. Unless you count bad traffic, a few snowstorms make up the entirety of our disaster menu.

    That and excruciatingly high real estate prices. Did you know some towns in Kansas are actually giving away free land to people willing to move there?

    The exploding frogs story is way cool. Unlike vultures, crows can’t rip flesh; they have to get inside carcasses through, um, holes, so that’s the necessity that birthed this invention. A study a few years back showed a female crow bending a straight stick into a hook to get food out of a container after the male crow stole the hook that had been given her. Genius!

  20. TS Alpha ripped through Haiti earlier today, and I’ve heard a rumor that a potential Beta is already organizing in the Lesser Antilles. At this rate you’ll be able to collect on that wager before Halloween…

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