I was on a plane the other day and had a nice chat with the woman sitting next to me. She was from California and asked me about living in Florida and hurricanes. She was amazed to find out that hurricanes don’t just form quickly like tornadoes. “So you know they’re coming?” she asked, somewhat skeptically. I told her yes, usually the meteorologists give us advance warning.
This is my 11th hurricane season in Florida. Most years have been quiet ones. Some weren’t. At one point in 2005, it seemed like everywhere I went in Florida was torn up, busted and littered with storm debris. It was horribly depressing.
I wrote a story about the effect of the La Nina weather phenomenon on the 2011 season. The good news: La Nina appears to be weakening.
But here’s the not-so-good news: so-called “neutral” years — or years in which there is neither a La Nina or an El Nino — are often more difficult for meteorologists to forecast.
“With a strong La Nina or El Nino year, the forecast much easier,” said Dan Kottlowski, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather.com. “Since we don’t have a strong signal toward El Nino or La Nina, there’s somewhat more uncertainty in trying to determine how strong this season will be.”
Here’s my favorite hurricane story. I wrote it in Nov. 2005, after Hurricane Wilma. I was living in Miami, working for the St. Petersburg Times and was without electricity for weeks. At one point, I stood in line for ice and a relief worker handed me a little box of food. I remember being very excited that the box contained chocolate pudding.