Hurricanes are powerful, unpredictable forces of nature. Hurricanes develop over warm ocean water usually near the equator. Swirling and rotating in a counterclockwise direction around the eye, a calm area in the center of the storm. Large one can measure 200 to 300 miles in diameter! The eye of a hurricane is about 20 miles in diameter and has few winds or clouds. Storm clouds called wall clouds surround the eye of the storm. The strongest winds and heaviest rain of the hurricane occur within the wall clouds. Hurricane Ivan had winds of between 130 and 150 miles per hour in his wall clouds as he approached the Gulf Coast. He was a very big threat!
In the United States, most hurricanes affect areas near the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. June through November is known as “Hurricane Season” with September being the busiest month! Destruction of land and property occur as the winds and rains combine with the force of the sea, producing huge waves. These waves are called the storm surge. This surge of water causes flooding and is especially destructive if it occurs at high tide. Tornados are also often present in hurricane clouds.
Is it a “herricane” or a “himmacane”? Naming these storms began because hurricanes can last for a week or longer and many times forecasters are watching more than one storm. Each year, the first tropical storm of the season is given a name beginning with A, the second storm starts with B and so on. Women’s and men’s names are alternated. Check out http://enchantedlearning.com/ and you will know all the storm’s names for the next few years!
September 14th was a day I will not soon forget. Hurricane Ivan was threatening an area from Morgan City, Louisiana to the eastern panhandle of Florida. CC and I decided to move the Wetland Wanderer from the Rigolets in southeastern Louisiana through Lake Ponchartrain to a marina in the Tchefuncta River that had floating docks. The dockage was quite important as tides rise greatly during hurricanes. If this area would have been hit more directly by Ivan, CC figured at least our boat would have stayed afloat as long as the dock did.
Early on Tuesday morning we cast off heading toward
Lake Ponchartrain wondering what the next few days held in store for coastal Louisiana. Crossing Lake Ponchartrain became very unpleasant. Winds and waves battered our houseboat after the initial smooth start. I am a true “chicken” and my hysteria on a few of the “rolls” did not help CC in his navigation!
The New Orleans area was spared the wrath of Ivan, yet the realization of what a storm of this size could do to the Crescent City is frightening. The evacuation of New Orleans was necessary. The “hassle” and work required to prepare for a possible storm is very taxing. “Better safe than sorry” is a saying that rings true when faced with a strong hurricane. It is very sad that Louisiana’s defenses are down because of the drastic wetland loss of the past years. Rebuilding and preserving our natural barriers is a must. Action now, in whatever form is essential. Our marshlands are places of beauty, natural resources, wildlife habitat, commerce, and storm surge protection.