Dan Rattiner's Stories

No Hurricanes This Fall: My Assessment Differs from National Weather Service

All will be serene and calm through to Thanksgiving.

On May 31, the weather forecasters predicted six hurricanes in the Atlantic this hurricane season. So far we haven’t had any, and we’re halfway through.

They think they are so smart. They have this newfangled group of satellites that are supposed to predict weather down to the minute. As a result, they have begun issuing weather alerts. I get them on my cell phone from the Weather Channel.

But one of the National Weather Service satellites has a flaw in it, and they admit that. The one here on the East Coast works fine, but the one on the West Coast has a non-functioning Advanced Baseline Imager. And they don’t know why.

And so, while we were singing “The Star Spangled Banner” at the Artists-Writers Game at 3:55 p.m. Saturday, August 18, an alert came pinging in—it doesn’t hold back any alerts, even when we’re singing the national anthem. “Expect rain storm at your location at 4:32 p.m. The rain will be heavy. The rain will end at 5:52 p.m.”

That would give us two innings of play before we’d all scatter for shelter. But the rain never came. We played a complete game.

National Anthem
Standing for the National Anthem at the Artist & Writers Game, Photo: Barbara Lassen

It’s been like that all summer. These smug alerts keep coming and the rains keep never happening, at least at the time predicted. Instead, they are a surprise. The flaw throws them off and nobody at the weather service has thought to turn the damned thing off. And so yesterday the alert was about a hurricane hitting Hawaii, and an earthquake in Thailand. Head for the hills, there’s an earthquake in Thailand. At least they got that right. I think.

Frankly, I think I can do a lot better predicting the weather than the weather service. I’ve been here running this newspaper for 58 years. I’ve seen it all.

I predict there will be no hurricanes in the Atlantic whatsoever all through the hurricane season, which ends November 30. Zero. My prediction is based on observation. What we have had in much of July and August have been these terrifying thunder and lightning storms that come by surprise but last only 15 minutes. Torrential rains fall during those times. Flash floods occur. It’s very unusual to have this here. Maybe once a summer we get this. This summer there have been about 10.

One in particular happened Friday night, August 10, which I believe passed directly over our house. For 20 minutes between 3:30 and 3:50 a.m., lightning turned night to day on an almost continuous basis, and the resulting thunder got our dog under the bed. It also woke both me and my wife.

Huge hurricane
Photo: Tomas Griger/123RF

I looked at my phone. No alert. The worst attack shook the whole house and rattled the dishes. When it ended and there was no further barrage for a minute or two, I got up (as we men have to do) and went downstairs to check the power, TV, phone and WiFi. It was all fine, except the WiFi was out. The storm was now off in the distance, growling and flashing harmlessly from our perspective.

The next morning, Saturday, I called Optimum, who does our WiFi, and they were booked solid for that day but had availability for Sunday. On Sunday they sent a young man with a heavy Russian accent to our house and he fixed it. Was it all right to have a Russian do that? He was, anyway, courteous and excellent. I gave him five stars in a survey. I have to say that not having WiFi from Saturday morning to Sunday noon was horrible. Who led the American League in home runs in 2017? We fled the house to find things out.

Ah, but I digress.

The point is that this summer, instead of God husbanding the incredible amounts of fury necessary to form a hurricane out in the Atlantic to wreak havoc and devastation through half a dozen states, he (she) has chosen a different sort of punishment. It’s like California going from drought to fire.

Here, God has broken up the fury into a series of bits and pieces, each one a 20-minute sock in the jaw. The fury, monitored by plummeting barometric pressures, is thus dissipated. The Advanced Baseline Imager be damned.

All will be serene and calm. There will be no hurricanes. All through to Thanksgiving.

Trust me.

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