Floridians and Hurricanes

1280px-Atlantic_hurricane_tracksNilfanion1851to2012PublicDomain (Custom)

Atlantic hurricane tracks, 1851-2012. Image: Nilfanion, Public Domain

Floridians and Hurricanes

By Kelly Dean

“Aren’t you worried about Hurricanes?”

I hear this a great deal, especially as rainy season approaches. In fact, it’s one of the top two questions I hear from folks up north when they visit here — in the dry season, of course.

Hurricanes are tough, no doubt about it, but Floridians view them quite differently. Weathercasters up north spend considerable airtime talking about them — but down here, they are tracking them every single day from the moment they are born, generally off the coast of western Africa. When they earn a “name” they are tracked by our weather folks daily on the local news.

This attention is both fortunate and often tedious, as it takes quite a while for a hurricane to reach North America from the mid Atlantic. The cliché that Floridians party when a hurricane approaches is hyperbole, of course. Even when a hurricane blows by at a distance, there’s still plenty of hard rain and wind, which is not exactly enjoyable. But Floridians don’t generally let storms disrupt their lives until they get close. Then, they begin keeping a sideways eye on the track. The daily reporting merely strengthens the resolve to not dwell on things one can’t control – until it’s needed. Folks often have most of their hurricane plans and kits already prepared from the previous year.

Although isolated tornadoes happen in Florida and often accompany hurricanes, they are not generally of the magnitude one sees in the Midwestern states. They don’t need to be; after all, we have hurricanes instead, right? The best way to think of a hurricane is like a strong tornado that goes on for hours rather than minutes. But unlike tornadoes, we get warnings well in advance.

So hurricanes are something we live with as a cost of living in “paradise,” as the tropics are often called. Paradise might also be a bit of hyperbole too at times. But storms aren’t something we think about all the time. Hurricane season is only six months long anyway, from June to November. I’m not making light of hurricanes, but they must be viewed in proper context, not as click-bait for fear mongers.

By the way, the second-most asked question: What are those round things floating in a row in the water? Answer: they’re crab trap floats.

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