Friday, July 11, 2008


A couple of years ago I signed up for email alerts from the National Hurricane Center. I usually forget that I am on that particular email list until this time of the year and then I get dire messages about Hurricanes in my inbox every couple of hours when there is a storm in the Atlantic.

Other than I like all things about weather predicting, I'm really not sure why I am on this list. It's not like I live in New Orleans, Florida or the Bahamas. I live 50 miles from the coast along the mid-Atlantic coast. In the unlikely event of a Hurricane slamming into the Jersey coast I doubt that it would do any serious damage but I am on this list none the less.

Being on the list is like having a friend that loves Hurricanes and tells you everything about them.

However, it is interesting to watch a storm develop. They usually start off the west coast of Africa and then if the conditions are right, spin like a child's top on a kitchen floor across the Atlantic. It moves fast, it moves slow, it moves east, northeast, north. Predicting exactly where they will go is one of those things looks scientific enough but really the predictions are usually way off.

Take Bertha for example.

First of all, you have to love a Hurricane named Bertha. It just sounds like a real Hurricane. Bertha is somebody that comes into your life and just wrecks things. She might even have a sister named Beulah. Bertha just sounds like one of those old fashioned Hurricane names, like before they started alternating them with Men's names. Well, male names anyway. Bertha is no Gaston or Fredric. Let's face it, you name some poor kid Gaston or Fredric and you might as well paste a sign on his back that says "Please take my lunch money".

Gaston is someone that gets a wedgy. From Bertha.
Fredric is picked last for kick ball. By Bertha.

Hurricane Bertha is now a week old and looks as if it will brush east of Bermuda. When Bertha first became a tropical storm, it was predicted to head slightly north east and never become a Hurricane.

Here are some early predictions of where it was going to go.

But Bertha, being, well, Bertha became a category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson scale in a matter of days. (And just who is Saffir and is He happy to share his scale with Simpson?).

This only proved that despite super computers, teams of very smart people and satellite imagery, the National Hurricane Center really has no idea where these things are going.

Here is the most recent prediction. Hmmm. Now Bertha is a Hurricane, moving slow and heading North.

The Meteorologists also have a lot of freedom with the verbiage they use in these reports. This is actual lead sentence from a recent report:


It just reminds me of something like this:

Now that's a large eye. I'm not sure if it's leisurely or not from this shot but it's large all right.

So, here a salute to Bertha, with her leisurely large eye. May she miss all land and fizzle out.

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