Monday, September 19, 2005

Tropical Storm Rita Update

Tropical Storm Rita is drawing a bead on Key West.

One of the more interesting factors is that the storm’s impact on Florida may be helped by Cuba — the island, not the government. As of the 5:00 p.m. update, the storm had made a slight shift to the south which put part of the storm’s outflow over the landmass of Cuba, which disrupts the strengthening of the storm and probably why it has not yet reached hurricane strength.

But that may only be a temporary fix, and by the time the storm gets to the lower Keys, it is expected to be a Category 2 hurricane. Gov. Jeb Bush was just on TV and announcing that he has asked for a federal declaration of emergency (Karl said he’d get back to him.) What’s even creepier is that Rita is looking like it may turn north once it leaves the Keys and head for either Texas or New Orleans.

My office let us leave an hour early. Good thing, too; it took me twice as long to get home as the normal trip; cars were lined up around the block at gas stations (I filled up this morning). All systems at home are ready; the lawn furniture is stowed and the radio and flashlight have been checked.

So, for the seventh time in four years, I’m prepping for a hurricane. It occurs to me that during my first stint in Miami — from September 1971 to June 1974 — there were no major hurricanes that came close to South Florida. I wonder why…