The hurricane season was not too busy, at least until this past week. Past performance does not guarantee future results. South Florida watches Dorian.
Of course, Hurricane Barry worried us last month. It was a big deal to our west, but 14 years ago this week the real big deal was Hurricane Katrina. I covered it on TV as a broadcast meteorologist.
Katrina reminded us storm surge doesn’t always relate to the category of a storm, and it can be destructive and deadly. Over 1,800 people perished, most of them in New Orleans where levees and floodwalls failed or were breached. The Mississippi coast had record storm surge and tremendous loss. We saw extreme storm surge also around Mobile Bay, into the Florida Panhandle.
Katrina also brought wind and tornadoes with a broad negative impact on society. It was an extraordinary storm that was life-changing for many of us.
In my recent life changes, you may know I’m not on TV at the moment. It is a “hiatus” in my career. With this new bi-weekly weather column in Lagniappe, I’m returning to my roots, in a sense. From fifth grade through high school I was a paperboy. I had a paper route of 40 houses back in the day when newspapers were fat and daily.
I learned a lot about people, money and dogs. There’s nothing more unsettling than the sound of claws scraping on pavement when you are carrying 30 pounds of newsprint on a wet street. Delivering papers on foot, 365 days a year in the north, I was in the weather when some winter days were in the teens and some summer afternoons were near 100. Weather impacts all endeavors and I was lucky enough then to realize it could be a good career.
I’m planning to return to TV around here, but it’s not entirely up to me as to when it happens! I’m hoping it will be a matter of months. In the meantime, I still live in Mobile and continue to teach a weather broadcasting course at the University of South Alabama in the spring.
You may have seen my YouTube channel, Alan Sealls Weather, where I just posted a look back at Katrina. I still visit schools and organizations and share the gospel of the almighty cloud. My Facebook page, Alan Sealls Weather (notice a theme there?), continues, so please post pretty or interesting weather photos, along with questions about how our awesome atmosphere works.
A common question I get is: “So Alan, what do you really think about this hurricane season?” There will be hurricanes. I have no clue as to how many, how often, where or when, but we look at averages to know that we are nearing the statistical peak of the season. While you can’t let chatter on social media make you think every clump of clouds in the ocean will morph into a monster cyclone targeting your zip code, you must be prepared for the inconvenience, expense and danger of a tropical storm or hurricane. It comes with the territory.
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