The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!


Monday, September 11, 2017

My Birthday Hurricanes

Having just experienced hurricane Irma up close and personal, I recall my father telling me about another hurricane, one that rolled through New England as I was born.

My birthday is this coming Wednesday, September 13, and during this same week, back in 1944, a large hurricane roared up the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Canada. They didn't name hurricanes back then but this particular storm became known as "The 1944 Great Atlantic Hurricane."

This storm reached its peak on my birthday when it recorded 145 mph winds, making it a Category 4 storm by today's standards. A few days later it dumped a record 10.7 inches of rain on the city in which I was born, Bridgeport, Connecticut. My father said little about the experience, only complaining that the storm had made things very difficult. I don't think he blamed me for the inconvenience...
Great Atlantic Hurricane Track (September 1944) 
Being born during a major hurricane is a claim to fame of sorts, but the 1944 storm wasn't the last to visit me on my birthday. I recall another massive hurricane that stopped by to wish me well back in September 1960, just as I was celebrating my 16th birthday. Hurricane Donna made its way from Florida to New England, and on September 12 roared right by Larchmont, New York, our town on Long Island Sound. 

The parallels between these two storms are interesting, but the parallels between Donna and Irma are even more remarkable. Although 57 years apart, both storms struck the mainland USA in the vicinity of Marathon, Florida on September 10 with winds of 130 mph. And both went on to ravage the state of Florida. The biggest difference between the two relates to their respective post-Florida tracks. Irma ceased being a hurricane as she made her way into northern Florida. Donna, however, moved up the state and into the Atlantic, where she regained strength and then ravaged the Atlantic coast all the way to New England. Like her 1944 predecessor she too had maximum winds of 145 mph, making her a Category 4.
Hurricane Donna's Track (September 1960)
Irma, of course, began as a much more violent storm, a Category 5 with sustained 185 mph winds. It was these winds that devastated so many islands in the Caribbean.
Hurricane Irma's Track (September 2017)
Fortunately, at least for us in Florida, Irma could not maintain this strength as she made her way through the western Caribbean to south Florida. And her over-land track after coming ashore allowed her to weaken even more. Her visit here was no picnic, but it could have been much worse. I suppose she could have stuck around and interfered with Wednesday's celebration.


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