Premonition

My local break going off thanks to 2005’s Tropical Storm Eugene.
Today is the first day of the Eastern North Pacific Hurricane Season.  If that sounds ominous, that’s because it is. The experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are predicting that this region will have 14 tropical storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes between today and the 30th of November. Each day between now and then I will receive an email from NOAA’s National Weather Service entitled Eastern Pacific Tropical Weather Outlook. Most of these emails will be the same. They will read:
FOR THE EASTERN NORTH PACIFIC…EAST OF 140 DEGREES WEST LONGITUDE…

TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

But as we approach the end of August, there will be an increasing frequency of warnings that describe the potential in terms of percentages for “areas of disturbance” to develop into a tropical storm. As ocean temperatures between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator increase, so do the number of storms. Historically, most major storms have hit the Baja Peninsula in the first half of September. Right when it’s hotter than Hades on the East Cape, and therefore when I’d prefer not to be there. But someone’s got to take care of the dogs and Felipe, mop up any rain that is blown under doors, report damage to people less stupid and safely tucked in homes located somewhere North of the danger.
I regard this hurricane season with a sense of foreboding. Not only did we not have any storms last year, which the law of averages dictates has upped the chances of at least one storm hitting us this year, but as I scanned down the list of names for this year’s storms, a sense of intuitive premonition descended upon me as I noted that 14 out of 24 of the names on the list are those of people I know. Many of them are not ordinary names and owing to my decade of living in isolation, I probably know a lot less people than the average Jova. I might not know any Xinahs or Zeldas, but I do know, in more than just a passing fashion, people with the names starting with the letters A, C, D, E, G, H, I, K though R, T, V and W. That sends my intuition a flutter. I think it’s time to buy hurricane insurance.
Here is the list of names storms will be given in 2011:

NAME                               PRONUNCIATION
—————————————————————
ADRIAN                            AY- DREE UHN
BEATRIZ                           BEE- A TRIZ
CALVIN                             KAL- VIN
DORA                               DOR- RUH
EUGENE                          YOU- JEEN
FERNANDA                      FER NAN- DAH
GREG                               GREG
HILARY                             HIH- LUH REE
IRWIN                               UR- WIN
JOVA                                 HO- VAH
KENNETH                         KEH- NETH
LIDIA                                 LIH- DYAH
MAX                                  MAKS
NORMA                             NOOR- MUH
OTIS                                  OH- TIS
PILAR                                PEE LAHR-
RAMON                             RAH MOHN-
SELMA                              SELL- MAH
TODD                                TAHD
VERONICA                       VUR RAHN- IH KUH
WILEY                               WY- LEE
XINA                                  ZEE- NAH
YORK                                YORK
ZELDA                               ZEL- DAH
Looking on the bright side I remind myself that tropical storms and hurricanes produce waves. The bigger, more powerful the storm, the bigger and more exciting the waves. If luck is on our side, the edge of a storm stays out at sea and far enough away to keep local ocean surface conditions smooth and clean, sending only the swell that surfers love to ride. When this happens the East coast of Baja wakes up with a start. Waves appear where 99% of the time there are none. Bays nicknamed Babybeach for their calm waters most of the year turn into a maelstrom of kinetic energy where water rears up, crashing with forces that erode rocks and beaches moving vast quantities of sand and occasionally send hale and hearty surfers to the beach exhausted, sometimes beaten, with leashes and boards broken. Currents develop along the shoreline that are so strong only the experienced and the lucky manage to get out to the take-off spot without being washed hundreds of yards down the coast. It’s always exciting. And sometimes scary. Just like the storms themselves.
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