Saturday, September 24, 2005

I've just returned from walking the dogs.

Tonite, the water on the Gulf is calm., the lights from the Sand Key Bridge reflecting on the water, creating neat even rows of multi colored columns. Unlike the last two days when we were experiencing the outer bands of hurricane Rita with mild winds and intermittent heavy rains, the air is still.

Directly across from us on the West side of the Gulf, Rita has already begun her path of destruction. Once again, we've been spared but it's much too early to heave that sigh of relief.

My sister makes me crazy when she makes her favorite annual hurricane season statement. "The reason we don't get hit is because we sit on top of indian burial grounds"; but according to today's edition of the St. Petersburg Times, she's not the only one attributing our incredible luck to outside forces.

The theories range from divine intervention because of Saint in ""St. Petersburg" to a spirit of goodwill left behind by the Tocobagas, an Indian tribe found living around Tampa Bay when explorers arrived in the 1500s.

People in prayer groups who have been working overtime lately also claim responsibility.

Since 1921, when a hurricane slammed into the Tampa Bay area, we have not borne a direct hit.
Last year's Hurricane Charley was pointed right at us, but it took an eleventh hour turn to the east and hit 75 miles south in Charlotte County, but even with that turn, we had heavy wind damage and lost power for 5 days.

In the past 14 months, seven hurricanes, including Rita, have hit or passed near Florida. But aside from some flooding and power outages, the bay area was spared a major disaster.
So why has Tampa Bay escaped a direct hit from a major hurricane for the past 84 years?

"It's definitely because of the guardian angels," said Tami Schofield, who was working behind the bar at the Ka'Tiki on Sunset Beach in Treasure Island Thursday. "We are blessed. Somebody is watching out for us.

The people who study storms say there is no one simple explanation.
The experts agree on two points.
There is no guarantee a hurricane won't make landfall in Tampa Bay this year.
And if it does, the mostly likely month is October, when approaching cold fronts can steer the storms into the west coast of Florida.

The threat is partly due to a change in the steering patterns, and more important, where the storms form.
"In October and November, they form mostly in the western Caribbean," Landsea said. "The jet stream and steering patterns usually force the storms one of two ways - into Central America, or north and east, to Cuba, the Bahamas and Florida."

Other opinions vary as to why Tampa Bay has been spared, but most experts say Tampa Bay's clock is ticking:
"So far, it's been by the grace of God. It's also not a question of if a storm will hit us, but when." - Joseph Schaefer, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Storm Prediction Center.

In testimony before a Senate subcommittee Tuesday, National Hurricane Center director Max Mayfield predicted several more named tropical storms this year.
He also listed a number of cities and regions in addition to New Orleans he believes are "especially vulnerable" to damage from a major hurricane: Houston and Galveston, Texas; New York City and Long Island; southern Florida and the Florida Keys; New England.
And the Tampa Bay area.

In the meantime, our hurricane supplies remain intact, and our evacuation plan is to head to Jacksonville, Florida where our friend Joey lives or to Tennessee to visit our friend Hal!


Ruben said...

My heart goes out to everyone effected by these storms, just when they begin to get their legs under they get knocked down again.

ConnieJane said...

Whatever the reason the Tampa area has been spared... I am most grateful for it!

My hurricane supplies are together and stand ready, generators and all. Food and water are stockpiled. Guest room readied for Mother & RQM if they need to evacuate. With a quick trip to Publix for some extra junk food (gotta have it when a storm approaches) I'm physically ready for our turn. Mentally, not so much. I worry about it every hurricane season. This year even more taxing on my nerves than last.

It's the price you pay to live in paradise.