Track Watching

Like most Floridians, I keep a watchful eye on what's going on in the tropics during hurricane season. And so I've been watching the projected track of Ernesto (currently a tropical storm, although it may regain hurricane status later) as it crossed Haiti and as it prepares to cross Cuba.

Originally, it looked like the storm would hit Jamaica and pass south of Cuba, then head into the Gulf of Mexico and menace the Texas or Louisiana coast. As each day has passed and each new update arrives from the National Hurricane Center, however, the track has moved further and further east. Suddenly, a storm that wasn't supposed to affect us at all was headed directly toward us.

Last night's 8 p.m. update had the storm moving right off the coast to our west, and making landfall somewhere around Venice, to our north. The 11 p.m. update was even scarier, with the storm coming right over the top of us. However, this morning, the center line is now tracking even further east, and it looks like we'll catch the western edge of the storm as it tracks up the middle of the peninsula towards Lake Okeechobee. We're still in the cone of uncertainty, of course, and hurricanes rarely move in straight lines, but it's better to be on the west side of the cone when the track has been consistently moving eastward. And of course, the strongest winds and heaviest rainfall usually are in the northeast quadrant of a hurricane. If the current track continues, that's very bad news for Miami-West Palm Beach-Fort Lauderdale, because they could catch the brunt of the storm, and especially bad news if the storm should suddenly intensify when it exits Cuba.

At this point, I'm cautiously optimistic that I'll be going to work Wednesday night and that the power (please, God!) will stay on. I've got my hurricane supplies ready. Hopefully I won't need them.