Monday, August 30, 2010

August 30: Calm

As I look out the window at a perfect blue sky and feel the warm breeze on my bare arms, hear the rustle of leaves and the pulse of the crickets, it's difficult to imagine that a few thousand miles away down the coast, Hurricane Earl is gathering force. Declared a Category Three storm this morning, with sustained winds of up to 120 MPH, Earl is on track to hit the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico in the next few days. Up to 12 inches of rain is predicted for some of the Caribbean islands, in addition to the storm surge caused by the high winds. By this coming holiday weekend, we could potentially be seeing waves and residual rain from Earl on our coast. But right now, on this beautiful summer afternoon, all that turmoil seems unfathomable. It feels more like tropical siesta time.

With a major storm like Earl brewing to the south, I think of the migrating birds. Many meteorologists predict that global climate change will bring more frequent tropical storms and extend the hurricane season. So these storms are going to overlap more and more with clouds of southbound birds headed right toward them. Birds have a good sense of air pressure and know enough not to fly into the face of a hurricane, but when a hurricane is heading toward you, staying perched doesn't help. So in addition to the obvious human impact, these weather patterns will affect migrating birds, bats, and butterflies, as well. As if they didn't have enough trouble on their journey negotiating the gauntlet of skyscrapers, cell towers, highways, cats, and oil spills...

Serene summer beach.
Yet in this same ocean brews
hurricane turmoil.

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