We prepare for the second half with anticipation and maybe dread. I always start with the optimistic statistics showing the majority of tropical disturbances do not become hurricanes, the majority of hurricanes do not come here and the majority of hurricanes that do come here are not devastating, although they are disruptive. The bad ones make their mark in our minds and imprint on our neighborhoods. It’s sometimes easier to predict human nature than nature nature.
Here’s my 10-stage human nature forecast for possible storms in the second half of hurricane season.
Stage 1: Denial. “That’s not going to develop. I’ll ignore it. The last one didn’t do anything so this one shouldn’t do anything either.” That’s short-sighted.
Stage 2: Social media speculation. Just as in a championship game, everyone gives an opinion on what’s going to happen. “Should I be worried?” Don’t be scared, be prepared.
Stage 3: Forecast cone confusion. “Are we in? Are we out? Why does it keep moving? I don’t understand the cone.” The cone is only for the forecast center of the storm, not the impact.
Stage 4: We’re under a watch. People become concerned. Storm veterans go into preparation mode. “What should I do? Should I evacuate?” It depends on your proximity to beaches and surge and flood zones and the type of structure you live in.
Stage 5: We’re under a warning. Rush to store and gas station. Some people surf social media for a forecast that makes them feel better. Some are oblivious to the threat. Others compare forecasts and ask me which one is right. Mine, of course. Why else would I give it if I didn’t think it was right?!
Stage 6: Impact. Disruption. Hold on.
Stage 7: Surprise, disgust, dismay. Lucky ones say it was no big deal. Some say, “No one told me it was going to be that bad. I’ll never ride one out again.” Forecasters are criticized by some for not saying how “bad” things would be and also criticized by others for making the threat seem more than what it was.
Stage 8: Survival and repair. The phrase “the first 72 are on you” is recognized for what it means. For the first 72 hours after a hurricane, don’t count on help from someone else. You must be self-reliant and then hope for speedy insurance settlements and maybe government assistance.
Stage 9: Repair and recovery. Face the challenge of finding reliable contractors, building materials and getting utilities and infrastructure back in place.
Stage 10: Prepare for the next storm.
Alan Sealls is chief meteorologist at NBC 15 and an adjunct meteorology professor at the University of South Alabama.
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