After the one two knockout punches of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, which pulverized much of the Eastern and southern Gulf coasts, it would appear that Mother Nature is giving the United States mainland a momentary reprieve.
Communities are still crawling out from under the damage left over by Irene and Lee, with billions of dollars in water restoration costs staring property owners in the face. No sooner had the cleanup process begun than reports began to circulate about a new tropical depression in the Atlantic basin. Named Katia, this storm would eventually blow into a Category 4 hurricane, with initial models taking it along the same course Irene had followed two weeks before. Fortunately, however, Katia curved back out to sea, weakening as she went, and posing no danger to the East Coast.
The last week also saw the formation of Tropical Storm Nate in the Gulf Of Mexico. Nate posed a momentary threat to the southern coast of Mexico, but dissipated rapidly without presenting any serious danger to the southern US coastline.
Now we have Hurricane Maria moving past the Caribbean and Bahamas, possibly strengthening into a category 2 storm over the next few days. Maria is not expected to impact the US coastline, but may adversely affect the Bahamas and possibly southern Canada if she continues along her current projected path. The US coast may experience effects of Maria in the form of stronger surf and rip currents.
Maria comes along as we move into the peak of hurricane season, which will end November 30. Already the season has been a busy one, with forecasters actually modifying their predictions of just how many named storms will be seen this year.
Florida, which has routinely found itself in the crosshairs of storms forming in the Atlantic basin, has been spared Mother Nature’s wrath so far this year, but that could change over the coming three months. The last major hurricane to strike Florida was Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
Unfortunately, inactivity can breed complacency, and it is only natural that folks might have the tendency to get lazy, not making adequate preparations for the arrival of a strong storm.
For now and the remainder of hurricane season 2011, resident in Hurricane Alley (and pretty much anywhere along the coast) should be diligent in watching the news for reports of newly formed tropical depressions or storms. Technology has provided for excellent computer models to be drawn up with regard to a given storm’s projected path (the models generated for Irene proved to be right on the money), which makes it possible for home and business owners to make adequate preparations, secure their property, and get out of harm’s way in plenty of time.
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