Ian delivers a shocking Season of Storms finale

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By now, coastal residents can accept that every hurricane season is different, like almost everything that happens periodically. No football game or family picnic will be alike. This year’s weather test, however, was shaping up to be truly memorable – in a good way.
Just a week ago, the Gulf Coast was clear of a storm. None had even formed in the Atlantic Ocean in July and August, something that hadn’t happened in decades. September was coming to an end, capping the last month in which dangerous storms usually hit.
For once, it looked like our country would be taking a break, and the weather discussion might turn to how harsh (or mild) winter would be.
And not only was that unusual, it wasn’t supposed to happen. We were told time and time again that climate change was making hurricanes more frequent and more dangerous. The idea of ​​a hurricane-free hurricane season was almost unthinkable. And yet… it was about to happen.
Then Ian arrived.
After clearing the west coast of Cuba, she veered north and headed for the Gulf’s biggest target, the Florida Peninsula. Even then, a glimmer of hope remained. Early traces of the storm caused Ian to head straight north, parallel to Florida’s west coast, missing the heart of the state and making landfall somewhere in the Panhandle. Bad, but not catastrophic.
Tragically, Ian didn’t take the path of least resistance – and at least damage. It cut diagonally through the middle of Florida and devastated everything in its path. Worse still, it then veered northwest and headed straight for the Carolinas.
This is about the most destructive path possible for a hurricane in this region. And it was not a low intensity storm. Winds were well over 100 mph and the Gulf storm surge swept across the land like a watery bulldozer. The damage was enormous, between 28 and 47 billion dollars. And of course, that’s not counting the human toll – the lives lost, the dreams shattered, the fear of storms that never really goes away.
Are hurricanes starting with the letter “I” worse than others? We were hit by Ike a few years ago, and it was hard. Again, Rita and Harvey were anything but easy. Maybe it’s like the saying that rock stars die at 27; many of them do, but many don’t.
The Southeast Texans must have looked at Ian’s anger and shook their heads. On the one hand, we are grateful that we were not in the crosshairs. On the other hand, you can’t help but feel immense sympathy for the people of Florida (and Cuba) and then the inland states who found themselves on the receiving end of a season of hurricanes they almost escaped.
It’s bad luck, but of course everything about a hurricane season is luck – usually bad. Either your area is affected or not, and your house is flooded or not. Often, the difference is a few kilometers between your city and the one that takes the brunt of the storm.
I remember falling asleep the night of Tropical Storm Harvey as the water slowly crept towards my house. I couldn’t do anything, so I just went to bed, half-expecting to wake up to ankle-deep water on the floor. By the grace of God, the water stopped just before the walls of my house and we stayed dry. For thousands more, of course, their luck went the other way – for Harvey and all the other storms the alphabet brings us.
This year in Southeast Texas, we dodged the bullet. Next year? Who knows – another stroke of luck or way too much wind and rain? For us and anyone along the Gulf Coast, you never know. All you can do is make sure you have windstorm and flood insurance, and even be prepared to evacuate if the situation calls for it.
Today we sympathize – and donate – for those affected by Ian’s wrath. Tomorrow we hope not to be the target of someone else’s compassion.

Thomas Taschinger, [email protected], is the Editorial Page Editor for The Beaumont Enterprise. Follow him on Twitter at @PoliticalTom

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