Tropical Depression

Everything the Weather Channel has shown is an indication that we are going to be okay.

It’s starting to rain. Not much, just a light pattering. In the distance there’s another sound, a continuous whoosh of air like waiting planes on a runway. It’s the gulf churning. Hurricane Ida is creeping in the Gulf of Mexico. According to The Weather Channel, it’s expected to make landfall as perhaps a Cat 2 somewhere here, along the Florida Panhandle, more likely further west, probably Pensacola. My wife curiously tracks Ida’s slow movement. Her own tracking models have it roaring through our living room around noon tomorrow. “Better tie down the cats!”

I’m more optimistic. We’ve experienced Mother Nature’s wrath before. We used to live along the earthquake prone San Andreas Fault in California. The occasional arrival of a moderate earthquake was disconcerting at first. The majority of these disturbances were quick and minor, occurring in a matter of seconds but aside from some rocking and rolling, we went relatively unaffected. We lived just outside of San Francisco during the major Loma Prieta quake in ‘89 and though it affected much of the area, we escaped virtually unscathed. Here in Florida, we’ve been through several hurricanes and tropical storms. We stayed for Dennis and Katrina but ran from Ivan. No damage to report here from any of them. Perhaps all this experience and luck has lulled me into a false sense of security. Luckily, we have the experience of the Weather Channel.

It’s now approaching dusk and the rains falling a little harder and the wind’s picked up a bit. I’m looking out of the kitchen window and I see a 1000 ft. wave looming on the horizon. No, wait a minute; it’s just a change of darkening color on the horizon line. “It’s okay honey, my mistake! You can put the cat’s back.” Really, there’s not much to be concerned about. To be safe, I turn on the TV and see that the Weather Channel is going Cat 5. Their studio is swirling with charts and graphs, paths and projections, videos and feeds of rising water and bent palm trees. Their models (newscasters) indicate that they’re keeping a close eye on things. They’ve brought in their science teacher-looking meteorologist, Dr. Steve to “break it down” for us nail-chewers. Reporters vying for their own shows are sandbagged down in Pensacola and the surrounding areas. One guy is being peppered with beach sand but he’s wearing a cap and hood, wisely avoiding the sandblasting of skin and bone from his bald dome. Another guy, hunkered down where Ida is expected to make landfall, is really being whipped and pummeled by rain, sand and his producer. It’s a surprise he still has facial features.

Watching it all, I’m relieved. My wife is jubilant. Our cats are frowning. Everything the Weather Channel has shown is an indication that we are going to be okay. We’re not running anywhere. “Honey, you can untie the cats! This is nothing.” The ‘tell’ is the lack of flying debris whipping by the second reporter’s head and more importantly, that the reporter still has a head. No careening Stop signs, palm fronds, lampposts, snakes, gas station signs, cows, cars, boats, bodies etc. It’s a non-event. Yes, we endure some high winds and heavy rain that lasts maybe an hour or so but our household sleeps soundly through it all. Really, it was nothing. It was rather obvious if you looked carefully at the data. We don’t get hurricanes in November; the gulf waters are too cold. It’s the beginning of winter and Christmas is just around the corner!

Ultimately, Ida did make landfall as a tropical depression. Probably how the people over at the Weather Channel felt after all the hubbub. They looked rather glum. Ida just ignored it.

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