The season for blizzards has drifted away. The climatological peak for tornadoes and supercells is spinning past us. So now comes the months when we turn a wary eye toward the oceans, and terms such as “storm surge” and “eyewall” begin to creep into our conversations. The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season is officially underway (June 1st).
Not that “officially” means much anymore. Two rogue storms already have thumbed their noses at officialdom this year, Hurricane Alex in January, and Tropical Storm Bonnie just a few days ago.
That aside, I gotta tell you, I’m a bit worried about the impending season. No, I don’t have any secret knowledge about what may or may not happen. My concern is purely statistical. It’s been over a decade since the U. S. has been slammed by a major hurricane, one packing winds in excess of 110 mph.
We’ve never before, at least since 1851, gone 10 years without having a Category 3, 4 or 5 monster swirl over a U. S. coastline. The last major blow to hammer the country was Wilma in October 2005. Wilma blustered into south Florida packing winds of 120 mph.
Wilma, by the way, was also the last of 7 major hurricanes to blast over our shores in just a two-year period, 2004 to 2005. Climatology tells us that such powerful storms make U. S. landfall in about 2 out of every 3 years.
The point I’m trying to make is that we can’t be lucky forever. How many consecutive times can you roll the dice without crapping out? We’re overdue for some bad juju. Obviously, I can’t say where or when. But the bottom line is, if you live in hurricane country, don’t be lulled into complacency by the recent lack of tropical saber rattling.
As they used to say in the old “B” cowboy and Indian movies, “It’s quiet out there . . . too quiet.” Then the arrows would fly.
IMAGE: IR satellite image of wide-eyed (~60 miles) Wilma plundering south Florida on October 24, 2005.