Friday, May 8, 2015

Slow Dancing With Tropical Storm Ana

All week, here along the South Carolina coast, we've been following the development of a subtropical system in the Atlantic waters off Florida, and off and on feeling some mild effects of it: gusty winds, rain squalls, high humidity, clouds scuttling by off the ocean, and the feeling of an imminent thunderstorm every time the sun comes out. Tonight, this subtropical storm (already named Ana) is expected to intensify sufficiently to become full-fledged Tropical Storm Ana, the first named storm of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season.

It is forecast to hit hardest Saturday night and Sunday morning, but the 40-45 mph winds don't figure to cause much damage. The worst effects probably will come from rain, which may fall heavily in some locations. Parts of the Grand Strand, such as Garden City, are particularly prone to flooding with even routine rainstorms. The most dangerous phenomenon may well be the rip currents, which can sweep swimmers  out a significant distance and doom those who panic and try to fight the current to get directly back to shore. (The secret is to swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current -- and don't panic.)

Quite appropriately, the lifeguards are strictly enforcing no swimming at the public beaches. This is a matter of saving lives, a legitimate stand for public safety.

This is an Atlantic system from years past; not Ana.
The Atlantic storm season runs from June 1 through November, so my own name for Ana has been Tropical Storm Early Bird. If you look to the right at the list of my most popular blogposts you will find at the top my piece from last July 1 ("When Tropical Storms Come Calling")  offering my thoughts on preparing for TS Arthur and what might follow. That is a more typical time for the arrival of numero uno. Also on the oldie hits list you will find a piece I did July 8, 2013, entitled "Enjoy the Ocean But Beware Those Rip Currents." I tapped a number of good research sources to learn about rip currents, and received a lot of positive feedback. So check it out if you are interested.

Arthur was enough to get me thinking in specifics about how to prepare for a hurricane, but so far Ana is just making me think about thinking about what we need to do -- you know, the bottled water, batteries, important papers, evacuation routes, car ready to roll, and so forth. No doubt though it is a good idea to keep an emergency kit up to date, whether for a natural or man-made disaster.

So far storm watchers have enjoyed a slow dance with Ana. The breezes and showers have been more refreshing than ominous. Superdawg and I have even relished a few walks between squalls. That could change, of course; tonight's report from the hurricane hunters states that there has been some further strengthening. {Breaking news: Wind speed is up to 60 mph at midnight tonight. That is higher than had been anticipated.} It is a very slow-moving system. So we shall see. No one should ever grow complacent about storms that boil up in the warm ocean waters.

                                                       © Robert G. Holland  2015

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