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Those troubling tropical storms keep lining up

After a slight respite of a few years, the long-forecasted flurry of increasing tropical storms and hurricanes is happening, at least for this year.

The tenth such system, Josephine, is on the map with three months left to go in the hurricane season.

As southern states and many islands learned in a painful lesson last week, a storm doesn’t have to hit hurricane strength to do its damage. tropical Storm Fay broke all records with four separate landfalls in Florida, dumping double-digit rain across the region, flooding, well, just about everything. As if storm surge isn’t enough, Fay’s copious rains brought alligators and snakes out of their normal habitat to ride the rainfall torrents all over the state. Fay was barely a blip on yesterday’s radar when along came Gustav, three years almost to the day after Katrina.

Big, burly Gustav was a nasty chunk of tropical weather, claiming lives and destroying property across the Caribbean and Cuba before taking aim at the Louisiana shoreline and New Orleans. The largest evacuation in history carried millions from the Big easy and its surrounding parishes; watching a Cat 3 or 4 storm approaching scared the daylights out of everybody, and the evacuation, an exhaustive process, was also a success. At the eleventh hour, New Orleans escaped the brunt of catastrophe as the storm — as tropical systems do — diminishes a bit and squiggled a tad more to the west. Not having a replay of Katrina’s 2005 devastation may make some people less apt to listen and leave should another such potential crisis emerge.

But that’s not all folks! The NOAA maps show a series of storms just lining up to take aim at the islands, Cuba and the southern mainland and gulf shore. Hanna was wiggled a bit but now seems to be tracking parallel to the still draining Florida Coast with a potential landfall in Georgia or its South Carolina Border by the weekend. A week after than Ike should be flexing its muscles in our direction, follow in a bout a week by Josephine.

I’ve never seen the kinds of imagines I’m seeing now on the NOAA site; the red, greens and yellows of wind outflow overlapping each other. It’s reminiscent of riding in the wind of a tractor-trailer on the highway. They’re just pulling and pushing each other along. Or so it seems on the maps.

We are all grateful that another Katrina catastrophe was averted, and we regret the devastation that Fay and Gustav have wreaked for hundreds and hundreds of miles. We are glad, though, that people listened and left. We hope that should another such storm take aim, they will not be complacent; they will up and leave. One Katrina, one Fay, one Gustav, was enough.


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