It’s not quite like the condemned man waiting to hear from the governor as his date with eternity draws near. But not totally unlike it either. In this case, if anxious Floridians hear from the governor, it’s likely to be an evacuation order rather than a reprieve.
I’ve always loved that old song by Lena Horne. But I sure don’t want to hear it now. Because the anxiety in Florida and elsewhere is in anticipation of landfall by Hurricane Irma, a real kick-butt storm. Stormy weather beyond anything the lovely Lena ever imagined.
So soon after the death, destruction, and heartache of Harvey, Americans really aren’t ready from another meteorological monster. But every indication is we’re going to get one anyway.
The so-called spaghetti plots have been all over the plate until recently. Alas, the plot lines are coming more and more into agreement, and more and more they put Florida in the bull’s-eye. This is very serious business. Irma is now a Category 5 storm. She may rotate between a 5 and a 4. But there is nothing in her path to diminish her strength significantly. Lots of warm water and not much wind-shear. The land masses she will move over are too small to break her up much (she’ll do all the breaking up, in mostly poor places that don’t need the grief). A Cat 4 or 5 storm in Tampa would likely blow our hundred-year-old house down.
For Florida, it all depends on when the northern turn takes place. That turn would have to take place unexpectedly early or very late for Florida not to take a serious hit. It’s pretty clear bad stuff is in store for Key West and South Florida. If the north turn takes place at the wrong time, the entire peninsula is on the hook. Not to mention a fair chunk of the Southeast. If Irma makes it into the Gulf of Mexico, then Louisiana and, God forbid, Texas, need to look out.
Everything else is on hold until we see what’s going to happen with Irma. It’s really hard to concentrate on anything else. And it’s a long and agonizing wait, the storm not expected to arrive until the weekend. If by Wednesday or Thursday there is even a fair chance of a Cat 4 or 5 storm in Tampa, I’m for getting in the car and leaving. My wife hasn’t gotten there in her thinking yet. But the tropical storms and category 1 hurricanes we’ve prepared for, and which have mostly spared us, have been nothing like Irma, which in destructive potential belongs with storms with names like Katrina and Andrew.
Over the next few days there may, of course, be some good storm track news. But the window for this possibility gets smaller and smaller every day. So fingers and toes crossed (which really makes walking and eating difficult) as we wait to learn our fate. I’m watching more weather reports now and enjoying them less.
A small housekeeping detail: Thanks to my able editor and good friend, Wlady Pleszczynski, for suggesting that I write about the nerve-wracking experience of waiting out Irma. It has given me something to do other than checking Irma’s projected track every half hour and fretting. I’m not normally a fretter. But Irma is definitely fret-worthy. My best hopes, wishes, prayers go to any and all who find themselves in her path, and of course to those already touched by Harvey.