Sunday, May 30, 2010
What's in a name? For the 21 (plus Alpha) listed in our Hurricane Guide in Sunday's Herald and here online, we hope very little.
But as the 2010 hurricane season officially starts Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted "an active to extremely active" season.
Since NOAA began predicting in 1998, this is the toughest forecast yet: 14 to 23 storms major enough to be named, eight to 14 hurricanes (74 mph winds or greater) and three to seven major hurricanes with winds exceeding 111 mph.
Enter a new manmade threat to this list -- the worst oil spill in U.S. history -- and the fear for our paradise's safety multiplies. Images of oil-soaked birds, clogged Louisiana marshes and ever-growing plumes choking the Gulf have crowded our online galleries and 1A centerpieces for more than a month now.
The combination has me packing a bag -- a beach bag, that is. It's a grand holiday weekend to enjoy Anna Maria Island beaches, among the best in the world. (We don't mind that they never make the national list. That's our secret.)
Then sometime this week, I promise, I'll pack up the emergency supply bag. 'Tis the season.