Friday, October 07, 2016

Dodging a Bullet

So I'm sitting here in the southwest corner of the Sunshine State under overcast skies with a stiff breeze pondering what might have been, and how very lucky we have been (so far). My part of the state was never in the projected danger zone so the worst I have had to deal with has been a sharp uptick in traffic and large crowds of temporary evacuees from the other side of the state. To whom I say welcome and enjoy your stay.

But all of this brings to mind those who proudly declared they would not evacuate despite being told they were potentially in the path of a category 4 hurricane. I'm going to hazard an educated guess that most of these morons have never been in anything close to a major hurricane in their lives. No rational person with a clue about the real danger of something as powerful as Matthew was when I went to bed last night (sustained winds of 140 mph) would deliberately put themselves in front of one. It's rather akin to being told there is a Great White Shark swimming just off the beach and going in for a dip anyways. Maybe the hurricane will miss you. And maybe the shark has moved on or isn't hungry.

Okay, I will concede an exception for those seeking a novel method for self murder. Suicide by hurricane would provide an interesting topic for gossip among neighbors and relatives.

But I doubt that was the intent here. In many cases this was just for bragging rights.  My guess is that a lot of these folks will be found in their favorite watering hole this weekend telling everyone within earshot about how they rode out Hurricane Matthew and that it was no big deal.

Except they didn't.

That's because Hurricane Matthew has thus far not hit land in the United States (Deo gratias). If it had hit land as a cat 4, anyone in it's immediate path along the coast would would have been fortunate to survive. And if they did, my guess is that whatever tales they told would have begun with something along the lines of "what a  bleeping idiot I was!" (I don't think they would use the word bleeping.)

The worst thing is that this dodged bullet is likely to reinforce the bone crushing stupidity exhibited by these people and encourage others to do the same the next time we have a dangerous storm rolling in our direction. And there will be a next time. Florida is geographically pretty much a natural bulls-eye for hurricanes. That we have not had a big hit in more than a decade is a small miracle that I fear has also given a false sense of security to many. More than two million have moved here since the last hurricane (including yours truly) and most probably lack an appreciation for just how devastating a bad one can be. Last night Matthew was more or less the same size and power as the Great Hurricane of 1900.

There are times I think everyone who wants to live within ten miles of the Atlantic coast south of Cape Hatteras, or anywhere at all along the Gulf of Mexico should be required to watch this or something similar.

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