TAMPA — How do I hate September? Let me count the ways. T.S. Eliot was obviously not a Floridian. April is not the cruelest month in the Sunshine State. That honor goes, by popular acclaim, to September.
Like just about every other Floridian, I’m awaiting developments, wearing the face of one who may be hanged in the morning. This ritual is hardly unknown to Floridians who must endure long, hot, humid summers that are capped off by Septembers full of storms and rumors of storms. With apologies to the late Lena Horne, we could do without this kind of stormy weather.
Soon-to-be Hurricane Ian is no rumor, and the question on everyone’s mind hereabouts is where will he go. Will he smash into our area or will he trash somewhere else, leaving us with minimal effects? In the tensest month of our year, Floridians, and others around the Gulf of Mexico, know full well what a duck in a shooting gallery feels like.
Meteorological science has improved. Predicting the track and intensity of storms is more accurate today than even just a few years ago. But it’s still far from perfect. Thus the anxious waiting to see what our fate will be. Will the house still be here next week, or can we just leave the lawn furniture outside? Could be either.
On the TV weather shows — we’re watching more of these now and enjoying them less — our prospects are shown on maps containing what we have learned to call the cone of uncertainty, which shows the range of places a storm could make landfall. (Were we not concerned about unduly alarming children and elderly spinsters, we’d be more honest and call it the cone of catastrophe.) It’s almost impossible to calculate the damage a strong hurricane, as Ian is promised to be, could do to the heavily populated Tampa Bay Area. I don’t wish ill luck to anyone else, but I sure don’t want to make Ian’s acquaintance. How nice it would be were there an unoccupied area of the panhandle where Ian could rattle pine trees and not bother anyone. Alas, no such luck. It sometimes seems like everyone in the known universe has discovered Florida’s many charms and has either moved here or plans to do so as soon as possible. So there are no unoccupied areas left.
As this is written, Tampa is two or three ticks east of the cone’s midline, giving The Big Guava less than a 50-50 chance of being sacked by what could be a Cat-3 or Cat-4 storm. Of course, this is subject to change without notice. But maybe I won’t be hanged any morning this week after all. I’m diverting myself this weekend with football and baseball on the tube, but always with one eye on the cone. (With any luck Da Judge will get his 61st tonight but the Sawks will win the game.)
My wife and I have done what we can to prepare. We have canned food, batteries, candles, lots of bottled water, and dry ice to keep the beer cold. The rest, there being no other option, we leave to fate.
How do I hate September? Let me count the ways.