June 1 marked the official start of the 2009 hurricane season.
There was no bunting displayed, no ceremonial first pitch, no hope-springs-eternal optimism that accompanies baseball’s cherished opening day.
Instead, all eyes in Louisiana and in states along the Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard turn to the waters west of the African coast and the Caribbean to gauge what trouble might be brewing.
Federal forecasters project that this season will be “near normal” in terms of the formation of the number of hurricanes. But it also seems sacrilegious to attach normal to any six-month stretch with the potential destructive powers and accompanying misery as hurricane season.
Already we are reminded of the unpredictability of hurricane seasons. That came compliments of a tropical depression that formed off the Carolina coast on May 31, jumping the gun on the official June 1 opening.
Thankfully, the depression drifted east and dissipated.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projects that nine to 14 named tropical storms will form this year, of which four to seven will develop into hurricanes and one to three will likely become major storms.
Last year there were 16 named storms, of which eight grew into hurricanes and five were major. About 1,000 people lost their lives, mostly to flash flooding in the Caribbean.
And yet it only takes one hurricane to turn lives and property topsy-turvy.
Last year, Louisiana had the misfortune of bearing the brunt of two hurricanes. Gustav battered the Tri-parishes, Baton Rouge and nearby coastal parishes across southeast Louisiana. Ike inundated most of Cameron Parish and lower Calcasieu Parish, its powerful surge felt along the waterways in lower Terrebonne, Lafourche and St. Mary parishes.
Ike also laid ruin to most of the coastline in southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas.
Whether individuals can affect, with their own personal choices, climate change and the warming of waters that spawn these uncaring beasts is open for debate.
– The American Press, Lake Charles, La.