There’s something nearing the Gulf and I’m watching it carefully

Published 2:19 pm Friday, August 25, 2006

Amazing, isn’t it, how an event such as Hurricane Katrina can cause your attention to be riveted on the Gulf of Mexico every time it appears there may be storm brewing there.

For the past two or three days, the weather forecasters have all been talking about a cluster of thunderstorms just east of the island chains that guard the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. The cluster has been slowly drifting west and they have been warning that it could become a tropical system that may spawn this year’s first hurricane, to be named Ernesto.

Earlier, they had predicted that Debbie, moving west-northwest in the Atlantic towards Bermuda and the North Seam might become a hurricane, and it still may. However, the last time I looked, Debbie wasn’t doing much fast, except moving off to the west-northwest. I hope she keeps going that way.

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Now this cluster of storms appears to be about to enter the Gulf of Mexico. I wish it could move off towards the cold waters of the North Sea, but I fear that isn’t likely to happen. It may end up there should it go back out into the Atlantic and move northeastward, but then it will be too late.

Until now, I had been feeling pretty good about this hurricane season. It looked as if the forecasters were going to be wrong. Unfortunately, forecasters aren’t wrong as nearly as often as they used to be. Their success in researching the vagaries of Earth’s climatological systems have stripped away some of the mystery that used to surround the weather, and their forecasts generally are reasonably close to correct today.

That being the case, we have a whole lot of storms to go between now and the end of November.

I have no clue as to what will happen with this cluster of storms, other than what the forecasters say. They aren’t absolutely predicting it will grow into something, but they sure are hinting at it very strongly.

As someone who has lived in South Mississippi most of his life, I have become familiar in recent years with how warm water spawns and powers hurricanes and where that warm water generally is found. If this cluster of rain showers continues in the direction it has been drifting, it will certainly get in that loop that contains some of the Gulf’s and the Caribbean’s warmest water.

One of the forecasters on television was comparing the path the cluster is following with the path followed by Hurricane Andrew 12 years ago. That cluster would have to explode to threaten Miami with another Andrew-type storm. Even if it doesn’t become another Andrew, it could still cause some damage in the area around Miami still recovering from Wilma.

We have been so mired in our own problems that we may not have paid as much attention to what happened in the Gulf after Katrina, but Wilma was a bad storm.

If this cluster does become Ernesto and continues to follow the path of Andrew, it will come on and generally hit the area of Louisiana between where Katrina left off and Hurricane Rita took up. Not good, not good at all. No one anywhere around here needs to be hit again.

Still, all is speculation, but it’s speculation based on experience, much more the weatherman’s experience than mine, but I know enough to be concerned.

I probably wouldn’t be so concerned, though, if it had not been for Katrina. Like most folks down here, I have been through many more than one hurricane. It’s just that Katrina was not like any other, but I’m going to worry that it will be anyway.

It’s odd, you know. We have a wars going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorists plots being uncovered with an unnerving regularity, Iran and North Korea threatening to become nuclear powers, gas prices through the roof and China trying to make a deal to siphon off some of the oil from one of our suppliers and right now the most frightening thing is a storm that hasn’t even formed yet and which we don’t know will come our way if it does form.

The world today just seems infinitely more complicated than it used to and full of more threats than it used to.

Did you ever think that a return to the Cold War would be a relief? Funny how life seemed more peaceful and less complicated back then, or that’s the way is seems now. Then I remember having to wear dog tags in elementary school because of the perceived threat of nuclear war. I remember the Cuban missile crisis, Vietnam and other warm and hot flare-ups from the “Cold War.”

Before satellites, we didn’t know so far in advance that storms were coming. Thank goodness we have that much warning today. Can you imagine the death toll from Katrina had that storm struck before modern technology could give us the amount of warning we receive today?

Thousands would have died.

I guess the price of having the technology to know more about what’s going on and to have some warning of some of the catastrophic events that can over take us, such as hurricanes, is having to think about it for so long before it happens and even when it doesn’t.

I just can’t take my eyes off the Gulf of Mexico right now.