Odile, Here It Comes

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When hot, humid air marches up from southern latitudes up to the atmosphere over Arizona, the Monsoon Season is in full bloom during summer months producing wild and violent thunderstorms.

In our local rag sheet newspaper, called The Daily Courier, I read a story this morning that water is being transferred from an at-capacity lake to a near capacity lake. I remember seeing both of those lakes a few weeks ago with exposed water scarred rock from quickly lowering water levels that now have been covered by the last several drenchers we had in our area recently. And by the time you may be reading this post we may very well be looking at a gully-washer or two roaring through Arizona from the remains of Hurricane Odile, a CAT 3 hurricane with 125mph winds when it devastated Cabo San Lucas on the tip of the Baja California peninsula in Mexico.

Throughout my life I have been fascinated by the turbulent weather and the air envelope surrounding our planet. It seems that wherever you live or are reading this post you have some type of earth-shaking natural event always seeming to take apart your world. I have lived through tornados, severe thunderstorms, fires, earthquakes, mudslides, and Hurricane Ike.

Remember Hurricane Ike? That Cat 4 hurricane was alive from Sept. 1, 2008-Sept 14, 2008. It was the final straw for my wife and myself to finally say goodbye to Houston, TX. The hurricane made landfall in the middle of the night on the Texas Coast at Galveston at 2:10am. We lived north of the coast about 60 miles and heard Ike scream, literally, through our neighborhood. Electricity was immediately knocked out and would stay out for about 10 days. And the electricity was out in a wide circle from where we lived. More precisely, that meant no grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, banks, etc. etc. were open and able to provide goods and services.

The track of the hurricane, if you want to track its path on a map, from U.S. landfall shadowed Interstate-45, to due north. From Galveston up to almost Huntsville, TX as we drove that route to inspect the damage a wide swath of trees were flattened for as far as we could see. Millions of trees were uprooted and toppled over. A tree at our neighbor’s house split their house in two. A big tree in our backyard luckily tipped over to an empty lot behind us. Providence saved our house and our lives that night.

The winds from Hurricane Ike in 2008 topped out at 143mph (230km/h). 18 billions dollars of damaged resulted from those winds. Chewing through the Caribbean, Cuba…glancing past Mississippi, Florida with a direct hit to Houston, Texas, Hurricane Ike took 195 lives.

Hurricanes do take lives and property and create tremendous financial devastation. Now, Hurricane Odile will have been greatly downgraded when it hits Arizona. Nothing like Ike will occur here, but there will be damage. As I type this post, right now, the lead story on the local NBC news is about the preparation; the sand bag brigades hard at work, the warnings from Phoenix city officials going out…the “system” is getting ready for whatever comes our way. And so are we with the usual…extra food, water, batteries, change in plans. It may be just a series of powerful thunderstorms ejected from hurricane breakup that we experience here in central and northern Arizona, but you never know.

It funny about making plans, life always seems to intrude. But we humans are flexible and resilient. We’ll make it through. I hope that wherever you are and whatever you have to experience you make it through as well.

Fred F