Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene

With one eye on the telly watching CNN's saturated 24-hour hurricane coverage and one eye on my daughter in her playroom yesterday I suddenly saw out of the corner of my eye her inflatable turtle, which earlier she'd been sat in half full of water, fly by the window followed by a couple of garden chairs.

I rushed outside and there he was Tropical Storm Jose careering past Bermuda 50 miles away packing winds of 40mph. My little excursion out to the garden got me soaked and when I returned to the telly there was Anderson Cooper on CNN stood in the middle of a deserted New York's Greenwich Village desperately looking for sign of rain, let alone a hurricane.

Hurricane Hyperbole is nothing new, especially since the invention of 24-hour news channels, and the American's have rarely been known to overreact, but when one anchor proclaimed that the storm to be as "big as Europe" it was enough for me to turn over.

Hurricane Irene was in fact about as wide as Slovakia, and her lumbering, unorganised structure plus rarely visible, from satellite images anyway, eyewall prevented it from causing far more damage with land wind speeds well below the modeled forecast. Picture an overweight jogger in Central Park at the end of their run and imagine Irene at the end of her 10-day sprint through the Caribbean and up the Atlantic Ocean.

Weather men were on boardwalks all across the east coast and North Carolina's outer banks took a good battering but by the time it got to Manhattan and Long Island it was no more than a storm as cameramen rushed around tiny seaside towns (such as Long Beach where we were in June) looking for pools of water.

Irene's track did take her over the pretty states of New Hampshire and Vermont, both stocked with intricate rivers and lakes. These states were much less prepared and the flooding there will be significant.

Watch now for Tropical Depression 12, which is set to follow the same track as Irene.

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