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"Good morning. It's 8:05 in the cone."

I'm told that a local radio host introduced his show that way yesterday. He's referring to the cone on hurricane tracking maps. As of this morning the cone for Hurricane Zeta is narrow and we are not actually in it, according to NOAA. We're in the blue area. If the storm actually follows that track, it won't be a big deal for us. There'll be a strong south wind which maybe will straighten some of those trees bent over by the north winds of Hurricane Sally.

We are really sick of this. This is the fourth time this year that we've been in the cone. Only Sally really affected us, and that was as close to a direct hit as we've had since I moved here in 1992. Thousands of trees were knocked down, and a good number of those fell on power lines. We've never had such an extended power outage--six days, I think. But it could have been a lot worse, as it was only a middling sort of storm as hurricanes go. 

Here's the view looking up the street from in front of my house the morning after Sally.

MyStreeAfterHurricaneSallyAt the middle of that pile is a pine tree about 18 inches in diameter. I'd guess that pines accounted for at least 3/4 of the downed trees. Streets and roads are still lined with piles of debris. I saw an estimate that there's something on the order of a million tons of it. My yard still looks like one of those morning-after battlefield pictures. 


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Is that toward the bay or away from it?


You'll laugh, but part of the reason I wanted to leave the Gulf Coast is I can't handle these storms, which seem to be getting worse and worse.

I grew up in South Florida, and one hurricane hit there in my lifetime, Andrew in....maybe it was 1992? That's it. My first few years in Mobile we had Katrina and Ivan, and threats of many more during my 16 years living there.

Out west we have crazy wildfires, but I'm not sure there is really enough to burn around Rock Springs for me to worry. Weather events that can possibly destroy where you live are really horrible. :(

Hope that it stays away from Mobile and Baldwin counties!

I don't laugh at all, Stu. I can understand it. But it's still worth it to me to be here.

Away from the bay, Janet. We couldn't get out for the first couple of days.

When I was a teenager, I remember sitting around one evening trying to think of someplace to move where there were no natural disasters. Everyplace seemed to have something. I don't know what prompted that train of thought-maybe a movie about the SF earthquake.


Winter storms are the biggest natural challenge in Milwaukee. And the possibility of a twister. Twelve lives have been lost in Wisconsin due to twisters since I've been here (1995). None in Milwaukee County. In the same time over 100 have died from twisters in my home state, Oklahoma. We will probably feel the effects of the Big One from New Madrid, but not like y'all down there.

Where I am I think the Big One would be the volcano under Yellowstone erupting. They say if that happens the earth eventually becomes uninhabitable, but I would feel it relatively quickly being just 200 some odd miles away...

All my life I have been told that we would have a major earthquake in the next 10 years, and here I am about to usher in my eighth 10 years, and nothing so far. Not that I am eager for one.

There used to be an AV display in the museum where Bill worked about the earthquake that formed Reelfoot Lake in NW Tennessee. The artist that painted it, made Bill one of the people drowning in the river.

We have fairly frequent tornadoes in this area. The last time, the weather forecast showed the tornado on our 1/2 mile long street. My farflung progeny were concerned, but we never saw any sign of it.


Wouldn't it be like 2020 to have the Big One happen now?

It would indeed. If you mean the big hurricane, I would say it's too late in the season, but that's being disproved as we speak.

I grew up in north Alabama which is pretty much in Tornado Alley, so I'm familiar with that. I was close enough to one in Tuscaloosa in the early '70s to hear it, and it's true what they say: it does sound like a train, except that the cars in this train would be at least 50 feet tall.

The Big One refers to the New Madrid earthquake that is going to destroy everything in the lower Midwest and northern South.

And redirect the Mississippi to flow into Lake Superior. Or something like that. :)

Maclin, I am glad you said that about the train because I was just thinking about this this morning. I have always wanted to ask someone who has heard it what specific train sound you hear. Is it the rattling of the wheels over the tracks?


No, more just a huge roar. I can't call it clearly to mind now. It's been over forty years, closer to fifty I guess. But I definitely didn't hear it as a rattle or clank or anything I'd associate with wheels. I remember thinking "They're right, it really does sound like a train." But it produced an image in my mind, like I said, of an engine fifty feet tall.

I remember hearing that prediction many years ago, Robert. And of course the extremely dire warnings about the San Andreas fault. I guess it's good for people to keep predicting the disasters because that seems to prevent them. :-)

Thirty years ago, someone predicted that the big one was going to be on December 2. The idea even got some traction among a few scientists. Bill
had an evening job at the earthquake center at University of Memphis and they got tons of calls asking what to do. I remember the day before, driving on the overpass over the expressway leading out of town, and the traffic was bumper to bumper.


Was that this event?'s_1990_prediction



As unpleasant as weather in my area is known to be (lots of rain, short, hot humid summers, long dreary wet winters) the one good thing is that extremes are rare. It's too hilly for tornadoes, mostly, and too far from the shores for hurricanes, although we do get the side effects. Earthquakes are exceedingly rare, and we're not close enough to the Great Lakes to get much lake-effect snow and ice. Our biggest problem seems to be flooding, although even that tends to be more of the nuisance than the life-threatening variety.

Having said that, we are one of the places in the U.S. with the fewest sunny days per year, and a great number of people are vitamin-D deficient as a result. There's also a lot of seasonal depression, mostly from November through March. I've heard that the only area worse than Western Pa./Eastern Ohio for that is Seattle.

So I guess it's a pick your poison thing. For myself, I've grown up and lived my whole life in an area with four distinct seasons, and I wouldn't want to live somewhere that didn't have them.

I grew up where there were distinct seasons, too, although not as distinct as Pennsylvania, and I do sort of miss it. Not all that much, though. And they're not totally indistinct here, just very...smudged. And below-freezing temperatures are somewhat rare.

This storm turned out to be worse than I expected. The wind seemed as bad as Sally for a short time, and there are some downed trees. We were without power all night, maybe eight hours or so. We dodged the bullet of a six-inch piece of tree piercing our roof--just missed us. And our bit of bay shoreline is significantly eroded. Things must be pretty bad in Louisiana.

Sorry to hear that. I thought from what I was seeing in weather reports that it might be worse, but I am glad your house is okay, and your power restored. And, of course, I am glad you are alright.


I echo Janet's sentiments!

Thanks, y'all.

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