Hurricanes Getting Stronger? NO!
A commentary by J. D. Longstreet
Sitting here, in the Hurricane Alley of the Carolinas, as I am, with two or three storms churning to my east, as I write this, I have become something of a student of hurricanes… as all residents of the Carolina coast must. It is a self-defense measure.
All the “Chicken Littles” running around yelling that Hurricanes are becoming more powerful are just wrong. This year’s storms are well within the bounds of the Saffir-Simpson scale. (At least - so far!) The Saffir-Simpson scale categorizes hurricane intensity on a scale of one to five. (CAT-5 storms have winds above 155 mph.) Although Katrina’s winds reached, at one point, 175 mph, they didn’t remain there for long. She was a Cat-4 when she made landfall.
The increase in damage costs are escalating, for one reason, and one reason only… the rise in building along the southern coasts. The more property there is for a storm to destroy, the higher the cost of that storm. It’s just common sense.
One out of every 4, or 5, hurricanes to develop in the Atlantic strikes the shore near where I live. Residents in this part of the US have deep respect for these monsters of nature and we do not take them lightly. We treat every one as a potential killer. Each storm is different. They may look alike, and they may have characteristics similar, but, always, they are different. They are near totally unpredictable. We like to think we can predict what they are going to do, and when, but we can only hazard educated guesses.
Look, when we are sitting, huddled in our homes, and the very house is vibrating from the power of the winds and horizontal rains, we recognize just how infinitesimal we are in the face of the power of Nature and Nature’s God. It is then we understand that no matter how strong we may become, no matter how self sufficient we become, just one act of God can bring us to our knees. This is brought home to those of us in the Southeastern states every year.
Science is a wonderful thing and I have all the respect in the world for it. But, science cannot create a hurricane. Science cannot disrupt a hurricane. It is all science can do to give us an approximate point of landfall. More often than not, they even get that wrong.
As the rebuilding of New Orleans continues, I would warn that we should not be surprised if, before this season is over, another storm pays a call on the “sunken city”.
One would have to be a fool to bet otherwise.
J. D. Longstreet