Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Irene: Preview

Needless to say, I've been keeping my eye (no pun intended) on Hurricane Irene all week. Will it hit Jacksonville? Will it hit Wilmington and head straight for our house? Or will it only brush North Carolina and aim for New England, almost completely sparing Durham in the process? All have been distinct possibilities over this past week, and I know how these forecasts can change over time, so I'm not the type to get overly worried when I see a forecast that says a hurricane is heading straight for us five days out. That's why I haven't blogged about Irene before today. But now that we're less than 36 hours from landfall, we have a pretty good idea of what impacts this storm will have, at least south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Sooner or later, I recognize that the Triangle will get another direct hit by a storm that is still hurricane strength by the time it reaches us. And when it does, I'll deal with it, because I've been extremely lucky in my life when it comes to hurricanes. This storm won't that direct hit, though. According to the latest NHC wind probabilities (Friday 11 AM), Raleigh has a 47% chance of experiencing tropical storm force winds, and no chance of hurricane force winds. But that's in Raleigh; I live about 20 miles to the northwest. Will we experience tropical storm force winds? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, it will be a good test for the anemometer I installed on our roof a while back. (The anemometer only kind of, sort of, works. Due to the trees surrounding our house, and the fact that it's no longer standing upright and I don't feel like going up there to fix it, it never accurately measures the true surface wind.)

So...I have mixed feelings with these things. On one hand, death and/or destruction are not good, whether it's in North Carolina or anywhere else, and especially when it directly or indirectly impacts people you know. On the other hand...I am a weather geek, and hurricanes are part of what inspired me to study meteorology in the first place. I am certainly NOT looking forward to seeing what this storm will do. But the fact is, this hurricane is coming regardless, so I am...let's say, curious. I also have a lot of pride as a meteorologist of sorts, so when I hear trusted weather personalities give grim forecasts, in the back of my head I can't help but think: "Gee, I hope they're at least partially right, or else meteorologists everywhere will be accused of poor forecasting and/or fear mongering". I think there has been a bit too much fear mongering going on the last couple of days, but I guess that's what it takes to get everyone's attention. We'll see whether it was justified after the fact. There is a fine line between encouraging an appropriate response from the people, and completely overreacting.

What's going to happen along the Outer Banks and in the Northeast? I'll be glued to the Weather Channel and/or the computer all weekend to find out. What's going to happen in Durham? I'll live-tweet the events if the storm ends up being rather interesting on our end, but I'm not expecting a whole lot. I should note that at the Allen household, we are always prepared for an extended power outage, so don't mistake my attitude for a lack of preparation.

I'm actually considering playing an ultra-windy round of disc golf on Saturday. Hey, it might be fun! As for the rest of you...be safe.

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