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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Riding Earl

This weekend we had a brush with Earl, a Tropical Storm which passed by us without sorrow or glory.  The hurricane season, which started on June 1st menaces to affect  Long Island and the Big Apple, due to an overheat of the Caribeean an Atlantic waters,  doubling the probability of a hit of this area by the forces of nature.  If the storms should reach a category 3, this could originate winds of 200 kilometers per hour and the possibility of a Tsunami.
A hurricane could be more destructive in NY due to the fact that the wind speed increases in altitudes, which would result in greater damage in the top floors of the buildings. In 1821, the southern part of Manhattan got flooded as a consequence of a Hurricane and this situation could very well happen again.
The last hurricane we had two decades ago, Gloria, with a mere category 2, caused enormous losses which were calculated in 900 million dollars.
That is why the National Weather Service issued alerts so that people in the path of the storm would be prepared in case of emergencies or the need for an evacuation.
Boy!! Was I frightened. Never in my life have I "riden"a hurricane, and I live in this old house with a basement prone to flooding.  I tied all of my lawn chairs and tables to the trees, protected my plants, covered the basement windows with window guards, tried to make a slant of the yard dirt away from the house walls, added extensions to all the gutter spouts.  Inside the house, I picked all my treasures from the basement floor,  filled bottles of water and the bathroom tub and charged all my portable lanterns and flashlights...I also had candles and lighters handy.  I waited until I got bored. Finally I decided to go to the beach, while I thought it was safe, to watch the big waves.
Curious people do that!  The sky was full of black and grey clouds, like the ones in the picture.  The wind was not strong, but the first drops of rain started falling shyly. 
At the beaches there were big signs warning about the dangerous surf.
Rip currents are the leading surf hazard for beachgoers. More than 100 people a year die from rip-current related drownings alone – more than from shark attacks, tornadoes and lightning strikes combined. At least 80 percent of lifeguard rescues are due to rip currents.  These currents flow from the shore line towards the area where the waves break,and are so powerful that they can drag even the more experienced swimmers with them.
I was surprised to see surfers heading towards the big waves and ride them!! Lifeguards were still on call.  People were taking pictures of the tall waves, but people were still being allowed to walk by the seashore.
Enough was enough!  I rode back to my house and watched the Weather Channel. It was almost Friday evening.  The hurricane lost force and shyed away from the coast.  But at least this time we were spared.  I am leaving my lawn chairs tied to the trees, just in case!