The scene is New Orleans, right about now. 20 inches of rain is falling in alternating torrents as Hurricane Isaac spins out over the mouth of the Mississippi. A huge hole in the atmosphere sucks the Gulf of Mexico up and sprays it over the city, spinning out condensed vapor high above where the atmosphere is cold and barren.
The scene is near Port St Lucie, Florida, in 1979. Hurricane David, a strong killer in the Lesser Antilles, is scraping the Florida coast and unloading what little is left of its once mighty strength. Below, a few cars on the Florida turnpike struggle to inch ahead under blinding torrents of rain.
The scene is a classroom at FC Martin Elementary in Richmond Heights, south of Miami. Ray Gunderson is going over hurricane preparedness with the sixth grade class as they plot out the latest storm. Many of the kids come from Yankee families, so the curriculum includes heavy doses of how families should prepare for the storms that will come one day. The lessons teach three things good for kids – some atmospheric science, a little Caribbean geography, and a fair dose of plain scaring the bejaysus out of them.
These scenes define at least one life of hurricane obsession.