Hurricanes Gone Wild

In the past two years, I’ve discovered the meteorological phenomenon of hurricanes gone wild. Allow me to explain. Two years ago, my wife retired and decided she wanted to be a beach girl. Until said time, I hadn’t had much reason to pay attention to storm activity in Florida. Then, we moved to a condo in St. Augustine. Hurricanes gone wild

Now I have a number of apps on my cell phone that follow hurricane activity in and around the Sunshine State. I had always assumed that as I got older, life would get easier, and less stressful. Throw in our move to Florida, Covid-19, the current insanely hateful political climate of our country, and I WAS WRONG. Because I am sick of Covid and hate discussing politics, I will stick mainly to hurricanes for this article. Hurricanes gone wild

It all began two years ago, in 2019, when we bought a condo near the beach. We sold our place in Virginia, moved to Florida in early August, and started having fun. This included about three weeks of going to the beach, bicycling on the beach, visiting the beautiful parks, and eating wonderful seafood at the many great restaurants. We even attended a Keltic festival and a seafood festival in downtown St. Augustine. Then reality hit. Hurricanes gone wild

I turned on the TV one evening the third week of August, and the weather terrorists (as Florida’s indigenous people call the weatherman) informed me that Dorian, a category 5 hurricane, was headed for a direct hit on Jacksonville (you know, a half an hour north of St. Augustine) in a couple of days. Stress ensued (headache, shakes, gurgling stomach, acid indigestion, acute hunger, adrenaline rush…you get the picture). Hurricanes gone wild

This whole hurricane thing was new to me. I had been vaguely aware somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind that such things existed. But, that’s entirely different from actually hearing someone on TV tell me, in no uncertain terms, that I had a front row seat on the hurricane express to Oz. (I know that was actually a tornado, but I’m from the Midwest, so I was more familiar with that type of big blow at that point). Anyhow, my wife and I had a brief, but panicked, discussion of what to do. Hurricanes gone wild

This discussion was cut even shorter when the weather terrorists informed us that the cat 5 hurricane was currently sitting off of Miami, with its sites still set on Jacksonville. The governor had just ordered a mandatory evacuation of Miami, you know, with a metro city population of about 6 million folks. My wife pointed out that I-95 North would soon turn into a parking lot, so we threw some things in our SUV and headed for North Carolina. Apparently a few of those folks from Miami had beaten us to the punch, because the beltway around Jacksonville was a parking lot, and it took us over 5 hours just to get around the city. Hurricanes gone wild

We fled to Asheville, NC because we had always wanted to visit there anyhow, and it was only a seven-hour drive from St. Augustine. We had also had a theoretical discussion at one point before moving to Florida about what we would do if a hurricane chased us out of Florida at some point, so I now realize we had not been totally oblivious to the possibility. Hurricanes gone wild

That theoretical discussion had included the purchase of a second condo somewhere where we might like to flee to in the event what was currently happening happened. My wife had suggested the possibility of Asheville, since it’s only a day’s drive from St. Augustine, and is beautifully located in the mountains. Being human, and older (read tired, forgetful, exhausted from raising three daughters…you get the picture), we had never followed through with our plan. Dorian kind of forced our hand. Hurricanes gone wild

We were fortunate to find a place to rent for three weeks in Asheville, giving us time to search for an escape condo to run to during Florida hurricane season. This was not the best approach, kind of like the rabbit digging his backdoor escape route after the fox is already at the front door. But, we lucked out, found a great realtor, and purchased a nice, reasonably priced condo. Hurricanes gone wild

I am happy to say that at this point the condo is comfortably furnished, and has served us well for the past two years during hurricane season. But, that’s not the end of the story. As I’ve heard said, life happens while you’re making other plans…or God laughs while you’re making other plans, or something like that. In other words, you can plan till your brain explodes, but life’s gonna do what life’s gonna do. That accurately describes our experience with hurricanes. Hurricanes gone wild

We survived Dorian, set up our escape condo, and went back to St. Augustine. After all the hype, Dorian didn’t even sneeze on St. Augustine; all they got was a little rain. But, we were prepared for the future, or so we thought. We went back to the beach, parks, seafood and fun for a couple of months. Then, in February/March 2020, Covid-19 hit. Hurricanes gone wild

All of a sudden, elderly people (our demographic) started dropping like flies. We started wearing masks whenever we ventured out, which was infrequently. We had groceries delivered by Instacart; no more wonderful seafood restaurants, no more beach, bicycling or otherwise, no more beautiful state parks. The inside of our condo began to feel like it was shrinking, but we did what we had to do to survive. Hurricanes gone wild

In mid-July of 2020, we again went to Asheville to escape hurricane season in Florida, where we continued to not go to restaurants, movies, or pretty much anywhere. Fortunately, my wife is an excellent cook, so we ate very well, from groceries still delivered by Instacart (thank God for Instacart). The good thing about Asheville, when we drove the cars to charge the batteries, we could do it on the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway. So, we spent a lot of time driving up and down the Parkway, enjoying the spectacular views. At this age, our knees prevented a lot of hiking, since hiking is mainly up and down steep grades in the mountains. But, the views were worth the price of admission. Hurricanes gone wild

I haven’t forgotten about hurricanes, the supposed subject of this article. In fact, that’s where the irony comes in. We moved to Florida, Hurricane Dorian chased us away, we did a lot of research on hurricanes and kept a close eye on our various weather apps to stay safe. I thought I had it all figured out. Hurricanes gone wild

Hurricanes obviously start as tropical depressions or tropical storms off the coast of Africa, then cross the Atlantic westward towards the Virgin Islands or Cuba. Then, as they build speed and force, they either travel around Miami and up into the Gulf where the hit land in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama or the Florida Panhandle, or go up the eastern coast of Florida, depending on when they decide to turn north. Fortunately, with the exception of 2017-2018, hurricanes hardly ever hit the Jacksonville/St. Augustine area of North Florida, although Dorian gave it his best shot. But, we figured Florida is the main place that has to worry about hurricanes. Right? Hurricanes gone wild

So, in August of 2020, Hurricane Isaias got all confused, at least according to my information regarding hurricane behavior. It hit land at the North Carolina coast, kept on truckin’, and caused some damage, mainly heavy rain, in…you guessed it…Asheville, NC. This resulted in some flooding and a few mudslides. So, let me get this straight. We fled Florida during hurricane season to the safety of Asheville, NC, where Hurricane Isaias got all confused and attacked. There was no major damage in Florida in 2020 at all due to hurricanes. My wife and I had a brief discussion and decided that this was simply an anomaly, just one of those things, never to happen again. Hurricanes gone wild

Hurricane season started fairly early in 2021. Hurricanes seemed to be getting more and more confused about how they were supposed to behave. One tropical storm formed off the coast of North Carolina and then traveled east towards Europe. Huh? Another one started south of Cuba and traveled due west, crashing into the Yucatan Peninsula. What’s happening? A third tropical storm that became Hurricane Henri formed near Bermuda. It just kept circling around and around those islands, seemingly dazed and confused, until it decided to head north/northwest and whack Connecticut and part of NYC, where our youngest daughter lives. (what the heck?). Hurricanes gone wild

And, most relevant to our hurricane-avoidance plans, the unthinkable happened. Hurricane Fred traveled up the Gulf of Mexico, made landfall near the Florida Panhandle/Georgia/Alabama and headed straight for…you guessed it…Asheville, NC. We got blasted with some 35 mph winds and tons of rain, enough to cause rock falls on I-40, mud slides, bring down trees and wash out sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Hurricanes gone wild

So, we had made plans, and God laughed. Now, we’re trying to make alternative plans. Perhaps we should stay in Florida during peak hurricane season (July through October) each year to avoid hurricanes, and then travel to Asheville the rest of the year. This kinda screws up the part of the deal where we avoid the really hot weather in Florida during the summer months, and end up in the mountains of North Carolina during the winter when it gets really cold. We fled Virginia because we got older, and didn’t want any more of those 9 degree nights that were going on for weeks on end in January/February when we left. Hurricanes gone wild

Let’s see, we could also just stay in Florida all year around and take our chances that the hurricanes continue to be confused and avoid attacking the Sunshine State. We could move full-time to North Carolina, but the hurricanes seem to like it here, and it gets really cold in winter. We could move to Tucson, Arizona or El Paso, Texas where it’s warm, with no hurricanes (at least not yet). But, last time I was there on a trip cross-country the temperature was 118 degrees, and I thought the tires on my Outback were going to melt. So, there’s that…no hurricanes though. Hurricanes gone wild

What to do? What to do? Maybe we’ll just move back to Southern Virginia. It was beautiful out in the boonies there. We could handle the cold winters by buying a better heating system and get a couple of electric blankets to combat those 9 degree nights. Now that I think about it, though, I seem to remember a couple of times when hurricanes hit land in New Orleans and then traveled up the Blue Ridge Mountains and rained and blew on Roanoke, VA, so there’s that. Hurricanes gone wild  

Maybe hurricanes have always been crazy, and I just started paying attention a couple of years ago. Maybe we should move back to the Midwest, where I grew up. Those damn hurricanes don’t go there, although the tornadoes and electric storms are quite impressive. Maybe we should move to California, with the 80 kazillion other people who already did that…and they are all on fire. Hurricanes gone wild

Sorry folks. Usually when I write a blog post, I come to some meaningful conclusion, or at least try to make a coherent point. However, this one involves controlling, or at least understanding, or predicting the weather. When it comes to hurricanes, whether it’s global warming, cow farts, or whatever, it seems they’ve lost their minds. No wonder the weather terrorists usually get it wrong. I’m starting to feel some sympathy for them. I just don’t have an answer to this dilemma. I’m old, tired from writing, and I think I’ll just take a nap. Hopefully, one of those confused hurricanes won’t come along and carry me away while I’m asleep. On the bright side, at least I wouldn’t have to worry about Covid anymore. Hurricanes gone wild

Quick update August 28: After I wrote this article and scheduled it for posting, here comes IDA, a new hurricane that’s predicted to hit New Orleans (poor New Orleans, I feel really bad for that city hurricane-wise). And then, IDA is headed for…you guessed it…Asheville, NC…more heavy flooding and mudslides predicted. I’m goin’ back to Florida where it’s safe:) (except for the massive Covid spike:(

If you liked this article, you will probably enjoy my two comedy murder mysteries, PLEASURIA: Take as Directed (Koehler Books) and MURDER BY ROAD TRIP. For more on this and links to buy the books, go to