A hurricane by any other name may not sound so sweet

Lee St. John, a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, is a #1 Amazon ranked humorous author. Look for her on Facebook, Twitter (@LeeStJohnauthor), and on her blog at www.leestjohnauthor.com.

June 1st marked the start of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, with some communities still rebuilding after last year’s largest storms.
What’s with the hurricane names like Harvey and Irma? If they were named something more destructive like Hurricane Death-Megatron-500, everyone would evacuate immediately.
I was in a hurricane in Destin, Florida in 1995. Her name was Erin. In 1950, the formal practice for storm naming was first developed by the U.S. National Hurricane Center for the Atlantic Ocean. Storms were named using the alphabet (i.e., Andy, Bill, Charlene) and these names were the same for each hurricane season. When a new season of hurricanes came around, it was always the exact same names and same order.
To avoid the repetitive use of names, the system was revised in 1953 so that storms would be named after female names. The National Weather Service was mimicking the habit of Naval meteorologists, who named storms after women just like ships at seas were traditionally named for women. And to think I thought they were named after women because of this quote I once heard, “I’m not as cooperative as you might want a woman to be.” That sounds like a ‘HER’-ricane to me. In 1979, the system was revised again to include both female and male hurricane names.
Our 1995 Erin hurricane was pretty tame by comparison to these in the news in the last year or so. It was the fifth named tropical cyclone and the second hurricane of the unusually active 1995 Atlantic hurricane season. On July 22nd, it began as a tropical wave off the coast of Africa and crossed most of the Atlantic Ocean without developing. By July 31st, it developed a closed circulation and became Tropical Storm Erin. When it made landfall on the central eastern Florida coastline on August 2nd, it came in as a Category 1. But moving up to the Florida Panhandle struck again on August 3rd, as a Category 2 causing moderate amount of damage because of his peak strength of 100 mph winds and 973 millibars in central pressure just prior to its second landfall.
We owned a condo in a mid-rise development. The building was swaying. Our sliding glass doors were bowing in. In 1993, we did not have hurricane doors which we eventually replaced because of Opal two months later. But this storm didn’t have much of a surge and therefore didn’t cause much damage. As a matter of fact, after it passed later that day, we went outside and took pictures on the beach and Alvin’s Alley, a locale at many resort towns, printed T-shirts right off the bat that we wore the next day saying, “I survived Erin.”
Our oldest child was 10 at the time and he and his cousin were participating in a week-long Marine Biology Camp at the Gulfarium in Fort Walton. Erin hit on a Wednesday. They were able to get in their first two days of camp, then the hurricane rolled in, and finally the last two days were held at the camp. What was so interesting about the last two days of camp was they saw marine life they hadn’t seen in their first two days. I guess we got our money’s worth after all.
Although a Category 2, we didn’t lose power, but two months later, in roars Opal, a Category 4. It destroyed our condo. Our condo’s roof was made with tar and pebbles, and they blasted into our sliding glass doors and windows. And then, of course, the rain came in and made a mess. Boardwalks, landscaping, balconies, and railings were destroyed as well. The pool had crazy stuff in it.
After more than 30 years, we sold our beach home last year. During hurricane season, we are glad we did.

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