So this is what ducks in a shooting gallery feel like.
Folks on the east coast of Florida are breathing a little easier on this otherwise fine Saturday a.m., while folks on the west coast enter the high anxiety zone. The latest projected storm track for Hurricane Irma shows it going straight up the west coast of Florida with Naples in line for a Category 4 storm and Tampa in for something between 3 and 4.
It’s hard to know what to make of the projections, as all week they’ve proved more perishable than anything in your vegetable bin. None has lasted as much as 24 hours. So Irma is very definitely going somewhere. Sunday and early Monday we will know where for sure.
The number-crunching computer jockeys have been working overtime to determine where Irma is going and how bad she will be when she gets there, and the weather suits and weather hair-dos have been getting their wisdom, if such it is, to us non-stop, with color coded maps and all manner of graphic whiz-bangery. But this light show, with all its technical backup, is based on way too many variables that are way too complex and interdependent to be very reliable. Information out of the National Hurricane Center is probably more reliable than consulting your arthritic knee. But probably less so than we would like, and less so than the “experts” will admit.
We shouldn’t be too hard on these folks. Their task is incredibly difficult, perhaps impossible. The projections all week have come with all manner of caveats (caveats are always in season when it comes to foul weather) and with warnings that things might, and likely will, change. What I’ve heard all week, in less direct language, is, “Our projection today, with a very high level of certainty, is that there will be a new projection tomorrow.”
For this reason, the Honest Florida Weather Forecaster Award goes to Homer Suggs, who said on the air, “Hurricane Irma is one nasty and destructive babe, and we don’t know where she’s going.” This earned Homer the censure of his colleagues (The anchor when Homer said this looked like she had just swallowed a handful of carpet tacks). But it has earned him our respect and appreciation, along with this award.
OK, I hope no one thinks I’m taking this business lightly. I’m not. Whatever Irma does, and wherever she does it, she will leave death, destruction, and misery in her path. This weekend has a real prospect of being one of the darkest in Florida’s history. But we won’t know till we know. Just like those ducks in the shooting gallery.