Today’s forecast: Fear!

I wanted to wait until after the 1 pm update to confirm that we are indeed facing our first hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic tropics season.  Oh joy.  It’s the trade-off you get in Florida for the rights to twelve months of outdoor activity.  It’s the same trade off you get with tornados and amber waves of grain or earthquakes and Pacific beaches.  Every part of the country has some bad to go with the good.

I was out to Wal-Mart early this morning to do a little shopping.  I have to admit, I really had a hankering for some cookies and milk this morning and I was missing the cookies.   Who else is open at 5:15 in the morning?

When I got there, the shelves were being stocked, as is usual for this early, but what was telling was the areas of the store most in need of restocking.  It’s amazing to me how long people wait before stocking up for the hurricane season.  It’s not as if most of this stuff  goes bad.  To the contrary, the very reason for buying these supplies is that they don’t go bad, so you can use them if you lose power or water.

Stocking up on paper goods, plastic cutlery, canned goods and water is just logical.  Why wait until the first storm to rush to the stores?  I needed to get more water myself, but that was because my recent trip to the Keys emptied me out of a cooler’s worth of the stuff.   Add to that the bottles I gave out to the air conditioner repairmen over the last couple weeks and I needed my stock replenished.  Normally, that’s all I keep the water for, repairmen and the occasional trip/barbecue.  For me, I simply keep a spare plastic bottle and refill it from my filtered water out of the fridge.

It was impressive how empty the shelves were in those specific areas, but equally as impressive in that the store had ample stock to fill up all those shelves.  I think most of these stores in Florida have got it by now.   They know that while people here are sometimes late to the party, the panic buying that ensues as soon as a “real” threat arrives usually prompts them to overbuy.  Presuming the store itself doesn’t get hit, it can be a pretty profitable week.

Now comes the fixation on watching the forecast track (or as it’s unaffectionately called, the “cone of potential doom”), with speculation, worry and imagination ramping up higher with every tick west or east.  It will ultimately get to the point that all work will slow to a crawl (or stop entirely) as everyone is mesmerized by updates, track plots and wind speeds.  Then, what will be, will be.

In the aftermath of a near miss, tensions remain elevated that much more.  Think of it as going from Defcon 5 to Defcon 4.  Each succeeding near miss raises the feeling to a higher pitch.  This is the worst time, the big two month period that is the most troublesome.
Absent a hit, though, it all fades away again until next year, timing out perfectly with the return of or northern visitors (snowbirds) who marvel at the beauty and peace of Florida’s weather.

Tomorrow’s forecast, then:  Sunny and warm.  Come on down for a visit!

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