Most people think there are only four seasons in a year. Those of us who live in coastal areas, however, know that there are five. And that fifth season most people don't get to enjoy? Why, it's hurricane season, and it runs from June 1 to November 30.
Needless to say, it's not my favorite season of the year but when you live here, you learn to accept it...just like those who live in northern climes learn to accept, and maybe even enjoy, snowstorms. I know more than I ever expected about weather patterns in Africa, the temperature of the Gulf and wind shear. It's the time of the year when one ear is always tuned to the nightly weather forecast no matter how busy life seems to be otherwise. And even though we're less than a month into this season, it's already one for the record books. With Debby, we have the fourth named storm of the year.
The one good thing about tropical storms and the hurricanes they may eventually become is we get plenty of warning, unlike the tornadoes in Kansas that dropped down out of the sky one minute and disappeared back into it the next. For the most part, tropical systems are plodders, creeping their way across the water towards their date with the shore.
Debby, it seems, is playing hard to get. Not only is she essentially stalled out in the Gulf as I write this, she's confounding all the experts trying to guess where she's likely to go. This morning the National Hurricane Center was predicting a path that took her ashore in Louisiana; tonight they're saying Florida, about 100 miles east of here. I don't think I've ever seen the NHC describe a storm's path as "meandering." Maybe that's why hurricanes used to always have women's names; they seem to have a mind of their own.
And while this storm isn't strong enough to merit constant attention, it has been entertaining to watch the forecasts yesterday and today. Our local television station uses multiple computer models to predict where a named storm is likely to go and the graphic on tonight's news looked like this:
Each of those eight colored lines represents a different model with the yellow line being the one on which the National Hurricane Center relies. It's hard to get very excited about it coming your way when there are plenty of good reasons to believe it's going elsewhere. I wish I had copied the map from last night's weather; it really looked like a bowl of spaghetti with the lines going every which way.
I have my own theory: The storm will be wherever Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel is and, unfortunately, that was Pensacola Beach this morning. Don't get me wrong...I like Jim Cantore, and it's fine for him to stand on our pretty white sand beaches and talk about how high the waves are today. But tomorrow...I'm hoping he'll be broadcasting from on down the coast, maybe Panama City. But if the forecasters are right, Debby may take a day or two to decide exactly where she is going to go.