Along with just about everyone else living east of the Mississippi, I've been monitoring the progress of Hurricane Irene. The fact that the names have already reached the letter "I" indicates that it's been a very active August in the Atlantic.
It was about this same time in August 1992 when Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida. For the English-challenged, it was that year's "A" in the storm-naming system.
I feel somewhat insulated from hurricanes; tucked as I am in the northwest corner of South Carolina. After spending more than 20 years on the hurricane front lines in South Florida, I feel positively cocooned in Greenville.
I still worry about friends along the Atlantic coast, but my life is no longer directly impacted by impending hurricanes.
As a veteran of half a dozen hurricanes, I don't get too excited about cat 1 and 2 storms. Heck, I got to the point I didn't even take in my patio furniture for a cat-1 threat. To a Floridian who has weathered a few hurricanes, a cat 1 is like 8 inches of snow in Buffalo: It's something that has to be dealt with, but not a huge concern.
No, it's those cat 3, 4 and 5s that you really have to worry about.
You can board the Clanging-Bell Way-Back Machine by clicking on "2010" in the Blog Archive on the left-hand column of this page; then clicking on "November" to read my account of Hurricane Wilma that hit South Florida as a cat 3 or cat 4 -- depending on whose numbers you use. That was the storm that convinced me once and for all to get out of Florida. Oh, and as a disclaimer, I didn't make any of that up.
In Greenville the primary weather worry is the occasional five- or six-inch snowfall that sends the locals scurrying to the grocery store to strip the shelves of bread, milk and beer.
My experience in Florida was that about 85% of the time, it was much ado about nothing. We were told for three or four days that we would get pounded by one hurricane or another only to have them veer away a day or so before they were to make land fall.
For my friends from NC and north, I hope such is the case with Irene.