Saturday, October 23, 2021

the naming of things


The name sounded like it was from one of those stilted conversations between Mulder and Scully on The X-Files.

"So, you think that it is just a coincidence -- that he was in Iran, then in Kazakhstan, and now he shows up in the Gulf of Tehuantepec. I tell you, Scully, Seventeen-E is up to something. And it is not just those black United Nations helicopters."

I have always found the names of baby cyclones to be almost clinical. For almost two weeks, "Disturbance 1" has been loitering around the edge of the Gulf of Tehuantepec like some unruly teenager threatening to do something bad if people do not pay attention to him.

We have been paying attention. And he has done something. We just do not yet know how bad it is. Friday morning, the disturbance turned into a tropical depression. Seventeen-E by name.

But that name was to be a brief one. By Friday afternoon, the depression had turned into a tropical storm. Tropical Storm Rick, to use his official name. And, if all goes as predicted by the National Hurricane Center (the agency that usually gets these things correct, Rick will be upgraded to hurricane status on Saturday evening.

Most of the cyclone wannabes that form south of Mexico head off on a northwesterly route, and they die at sea. Or they head toward the tip of Baja Sur as if it were a cyclone magnet.

Rick seems to have filed a different flight plan. He is heading a bit west, but primarily north. A path that could potentially take the hurricane right over the top of this piece of Pacific Mexico. The NHC predicts the first winds will be noticeable in our area between 8 AM and 8 PM on Sunday.

But the NHC adds a caveat to all of these predictions. "There is larger-than-normal uncertainty in the track forecast of Rick, and the arrival time of hazardous conditions within the watch area could change significantly with future forecasts."

That uncertainty is reflected in the projected cone of the hurricane. Even though the hurricane is predicted to pass almost right over this area late Monday, neither a hurricane or tropical storm watch has yet been declared for our coastline. That certainly is subject to -- in the words of the NHC's own warning --  "change significantly."

If Rick takes the middle course of the predicted cone, we may be spared some of the worst of the winds. When Nora passed by, we were to her right. Not a good place to be when a hurricane comes visiting.

We could actually experience only the left side of Rick. But no one can be certain how strong the winds will be once the hurricane passes over land. The predicted cone shows a rather quick degrade to tropical storm status.

One thing does seem to be certain. This wild child born late in the season has an unpredictable personality.

One of my favorite Mel Brooks songs is "Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst."

I am hoping for the best. After our surprising experience with Nora, I may even put away the patio tables and chairs.

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