Friday, December 21, 2001

George Mindling Column 12-21-2001

Expect an Active Hurricane Season Next Year

The holiday season is upon us. In fact, in two weeks the only things left will be taking down the decorations and, for many shoppers, piles of unpaid bills.

It will take until April just to take down all the lights from my neighbor's wonderful 22,000-light display. Florida Power & Light should send him a thank-you note. There will be joy of course, about the gifts and presents that outlast their batteries. and the wonderful memories of families reunited for the holidays. Flying will be cheaper, albeit more time consuming than last year, and driving will cost considerably less than our last Christmas visit to Atlanta to spend the holidays with our daughter and her husband.

The snowbirds are already showing up, most of them are unaffected by the airfares as the majority of them drive. I will be able to attest to the snowbird phenomenon shorty as I annually share the road with the southbound convoys of campers and trailers on Interstate 75 during the week between Christmas and New Year's.

It is one reason I like to travel at night during this time of year. Snowbirds are not by nature nocturnal creatures. Another reason for the annual winter resident migration is the end of the hurricane season on Nov. 30. We have been given a rhetorical "all clear" to coincide with our wonderful winter weather. Incidentally, we also have our first reality check. Just one week after the close of the 2001 season we already have the forecast for the 2002 hurricane season.

The annual tropical storm forecast has been released by Dr. William Gray and his staff at Colorado State University (http://typhoon.atrnos.colostate.edu/forecasts/2002/fcst2002/). The 2002 season is predicted to be busier than the previous six years, with the Southeast, including the Florida peninsula, rated at a 58% chance of being struck by a Category 3,4, or 5 storm. The average for the last century is 31 percent.

The forecast for 2002 includes 13 named storms, eight of which will be hurricanes. Four of those storms are predicted to be intense. Thomas Milligan and Jennifer Dimas, Colorado State University media representatives, (970) 491-6432, are available to answer various questions about the forecast.
I only report the numbers, I don't create them.

A recent forum on on disaster preparedness held in Port Charlotte failed to attract more than a few attendees. Of course, listening to officials preach doom and gloom immediately before a season of cheer and goodwill was not an example of astute marketing, especially when charging a $2 donation
for the New York relief fund when everyone has read about the new York Red Cross Relief fund no longer accepting donations.

It probably didn't help by holding the forum three days after the close of the hurricane season, either. The perpetually worried residents who believe they are now safe for six more months would much rather go shopping.

Speaking of shopping, no reason to rush, I still have four more days.

George Mindling © 2001

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