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Old 04-21-2015, 04:46 AM   #1
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The Power of Persistence

Yes, while it certainly takes persistence to cross an ocean, I'm referring to a difference type of persistence, persistence as it relates to weather forecast skill.

Reading this article this morning from the April 17, 2015 edition of Science News, I thought it would illustrate the impact persistence has on a weather forecast.
Onshore hurricanes in a slump

Record-breaking nine years have elapsed since last Category 3 or stronger hurricane made landfall in the United States.


BY
THOMAS SUMNER
12:36PM, APRIL 17, 2015

No major hurricanes have slammed into the coast of the United States since Hurricane Wilma in 2005. The gap in these hurricanes making landfall is the longest in recorded history and is incredibly rare, researchers report.

Many hurricanes in recent years have reached Category 3 or above while out to sea, but theyíve all fizzled into weaker storms before coming ashore. The landfall drought is probably a temporary run of good luck rather than a climate shift.

The researchers estimate that thereís a 61 percent chance the drought will continue through this year.

9 seasons = Number of hurricane seasons since a Category 3 or stronger hurricane made landfall in the United States

177 years = Average number of years between landfall droughts lasting nine or more seasons

A link to the rest of the article:

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/...rricanes-slump

I have promised to publish a post about weather and weather forecasting. That post will be titled, Weather or Not, but this is not that.

This is more a little teaser, an appetizer. The above quote was taken from the most recent on-line edition of Science News, an absolutely wonderful magazine that now comes out every other week, as the on-line portion has gotten bigger.

Having read SN for more than 20 years, I've always looked forward to what juicy bits it would contain each week.

Iíve quoted the above portion because it highlights something that I will talk about extensively in my post, the power of persistence. So as the article above talks about how rare it is for the U.S. not to have a Cat 3, or greater, hurricane landfall; we have already gone 9 seasons without one.

These researchers still prognosticate that there is still an above even chance, 61%, that we will not have a landfall this upcoming season also.

Iím sure thatís predicated on the power of persistence. So even though this is far out of the ordinary, (no landfall), persistence is still hard to beat when it comes to forecasting.

In my upcoming post, Weather or Not, I will discuss: the impact of persistence on a forecast, how to evaluate the quality of a weather forecast, how a forecaster can be right 95% of the time; but still not make good forecasts and most of all, how you, the cruiser, should or should not use said forecast.

Stay tuned.
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Old 04-21-2015, 05:26 AM   #2
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Good stuff. What category was Sandy? What have been the weather systems in West Africa during same period? Are Gulf Current temperatures any different during past 9 years? Many interrelations as I remember.

Just a year or two ago Fort Collins forecast a major hurricane season that fizzled, what says this group? Look forward to your future weather postings.
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Old 04-21-2015, 07:14 AM   #3
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Sandy was NOT a hurricane when it made landfall.

Because it was downgraded so late in the process, IIRC, right at landfall, I often wonder if the landfall designation was political rather than scientific.

Seems like some people I know had their businesses covered for hurricanes, and others just had some general storm damage clause. Half got money, half didn't......wonder if lobbyists could exert that kind of pressure?

I hate conspiracy stuff, but in the USCG politics tried to change the way things were done or worded way too much for me.

"On October 27, Sandy briefly weakened to a tropical storm and then restrengthened to a Category*1 hurricane. Early on October*29, Sandy curved north-northwest and then[8]*moved ashore near*Brigantine, New Jersey, just to the northeast of*Atlantic City, as a*post-tropical cyclone*with hurricane-force winds.[1][9]"

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Sandy
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Old 04-21-2015, 08:22 AM   #4
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This raises an interesting questions about the correlation between the official storm strength and the damage inflicted. Surely nobody who endured Irene or Sandy would agree that hurricanes aren't a present danger. In fact, correlation is generally uninteresting for anything other than dinner table conversation and headlines. Cause and effect is where the rubber meets the road.

Clearly a higher rated hurricane increases the threat, but there are many other factors too. The rating is JUST a measure of wind speed, isn't it? I think so. But in many of the more recent storms, rain fall and storm surge have been the dominant causes of damage. Does rain fall correlate to a storm's official strength? I have no idea. Storm surge is about wind speed, so there is some cause and effect there, but the other factors are the duration of that wind acting in a particular direction, and the alignment between high tide and the peak of the storm-induced surge. So basically the course the storm travels is at least as much of a factor in storm surge as wind speed.

Then there is rain fall. Irene caused all its damage because of the amount of rain fall. Is there any cause and effect relationship between a storm's category rating and the amount of rain fall? And the storm's course comes into play again. It can dump lots of rain, but if the storm is fast moving the total accumulation will be smaller than if the storm is slow moving or stalls.

I really look forward to hearing about the science behind this, and Richard is the guy to tell it. Blog on, my friend....
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Old 04-21-2015, 09:28 AM   #5
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So maybe , as a follow up to Peter, Mother Nature's continual reshaping of the US East Coast has less to do with categories and more to do with moisture, surge and duration. This type of reshaping is unfortunately causing as much damage as the higher winds but lower rainfall events. Like what Bruce K is seeing in OZ right now, wet and hanging around.

When all is said and done, what type of storm events does civilization of East Coast of US need for water and aquifer replacement - Sandy, Katrina or Andrew?
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Old 04-21-2015, 09:46 AM   #6
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The Power of Persistence

Richard: the reasoning for the 61% probability estimate is strait forward: they have autocorrelation terms in the weather model, whereby the near term weather patterns "inform" the near term predictions. I would add that a 61 probability isn't vastly different than 50%, in otherwords, it's not strongly informative.


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Old 04-21-2015, 10:06 AM   #7
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The Power of Persistence

Heres a tutorial on autocorrelation using weather as an example...
http://www.ltrr.arizona.edu/~dmeko/notes_3.pdf
And that's both the strength and the problem with weather models: the autocorrelative terms in the models have strong influence in the predictions. Breaking from the near term predictions requires strongly informative data, that may or may not be available.


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Old 04-21-2015, 10:19 AM   #8
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I fall into the group that doesn't consider anything less than a Category 3 to be major either, and don't get overly excited until Category 4, but for Sandy I'll make an exception. As it was the largest Atlantic Hurricane on record while a Category 2 off the coast, it's uniqueness and the extent of the damage done by it and the remaining storm post-hurricane force make it quite "major" in my mind.

Even Katrina's damage was far greater than the force of the storm would normally indicate as a Category 3.

I'll be interested in reading the "rest of the story" as I find a number of things regarding hurricanes interesting. First, that the European Model has been more accurate on US Atlantic storms than the US Model. This was especially significant in the case of Sandy. Second, that there seems to be a prevailing thought that hurricanes impacting a given area are far more frequent and more severe than they really are. When we travel back to NC, we get questions like "aren't you scared with all the hurricanes you get every year?" There were 8 named Atlantic storms last year and from their view you'd think all were hurricanes and all hit us. Ironically, Arthur was the strongest hurricane to make landfall since 2008 and it made landfall in Eastern NC and caused very little damage.

I think forecasters fall into a very difficult area weighing the need to adequately warn vs. the possibility of falling into what I call the "Chicken Little Syndrome." Television exaggerates that issue. We hear over and over "Hurricane So and So forming and could be on it's way here...more at 11". The Hurricane then never gets close. We lived in an area of NC with very little snow, but yet we got many "Snow Leads" on television every year. Well, ultimately it becomes like Chicken Little. You've heard they were coming, the sky was falling, so many times that then when it really is happening you don't believe it.

Do understand I'm not faulting meteorologists. Their content is often nothing at all like the headline. Headline is often "Snow on the way for this weekend. Find out at 11." Then the actual forecast is "While the front dropping snow on parts of Tennessee is headed our way, there appears very little chance we're see any snow from it."

Like most news, it's become sensationalized and separating the wheat from the chaff can be difficult.
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Old 04-21-2015, 11:33 AM   #9
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Sandy was a big but pretty weak storm. The damage came from boats and structure that were not built to handle it.

I have traveled often up in the NJ and NY area and was always amazed at what folks had put right on the edge of the sea, and how low they built. My comments were "boy these folks sure are not expecting any storms!!". Well, they got one. Pretty weak, but pretty big.

Historically, that area DID get storms, but not often.

Here in NC, we also had lots of structures built where they could not tolerate storms. Most are gone now. The old NC beach building philosophy was to build cheap cottages on the beach, and if a storm ate it, go in the marsh and find the bits and build it again. They never built expensive stuff on the beach. Later structures are certainly expensive now, but generally built to tolerate at least a cat 3.

Darwin was right with buildings, too.

It annoys me to hear the NJ/NY folks being "shocked, shocked" at all the damage from Sandy. Look at the historical record and cyclones DO hit that area, just not as often as the south. If you build or own a storm-sensitive structure, there is a risk that a storm will eat it.
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Old 04-21-2015, 12:04 PM   #10
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Believe it or not....1 month before Sandy I had a PhD Metro guy from Rutgers tell me we had more to fear from Cat3 storms coming up the coast than a lesser one that turned ninety degrees and hit head on.


Hate to say I told you so...but it was fun while it lasted.


I knew NJ and other areas I've been by were ripe to be decimated...the Chicken Little theory is alive and well all over. Having been at sea, on shore and on my trawler for other canes and Sandy in my boat...people including experts who haven't been through one seem to not get it.


Sandy was the first of probably 10 hurricanes I had to think about that I actually thought preparations were necessary. All the others...I waited till decision time and they all petered out or turned drastically, usually as predicted.


Sandy was one of the least predictable storms I ever lived through....but that's no excuse for a sand level. multi-million dollar mansion guy to think..."It won't happen to me."


For boat owners in the area...just like marina managers were clueless. Hardly any had ever been in anything like it. At least some of the old timers remembers what a hurricane is like but from a longer event in the 1962 March Storm or moved from areas that had previously had their butts handed to them.


One thing that supported the chicken little theory for the Jersey area was the previous year's Cat 3 Irene which was supposed to be bad and hardly was noticed when it went over jersey.
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Old 04-21-2015, 12:41 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Ski in NC View Post

Here in NC, we also had lots of structures built where they could not tolerate storms. Most are gone now. The old NC beach building philosophy was to build cheap cottages on the beach, and if a storm ate it, go in the marsh and find the bits and build it again. They never built expensive stuff on the beach. Later structures are certainly expensive now, but generally built to tolerate at least a cat 3.
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When I was young, I worked with a guy who had an NC beach cottage as you describe. He built it three times.
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Old 04-21-2015, 12:55 PM   #12
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Believe it or not....1 month before Sandy I had a PhD Metro guy from Rutgers tell me we had more to fear from Cat3 storms coming up the coast than a lesser one that turned ninety degrees and hit head on.


Hate to say I told you so...but it was fun while it lasted.


I knew NJ and other areas I've been by were ripe to be decimated...the Chicken Little theory is alive and well all over. Having been at sea, on shore and on my trawler for other canes and Sandy in my boat...people including experts who haven't been through one seem to not get it.


Sandy was the first of probably 10 hurricanes I had to think about that I actually thought preparations were necessary. All the others...I waited till decision time and they all petered out or turned drastically, usually as predicted.


Sandy was one of the least predictable storms I ever lived through....but that's no excuse for a sand level. multi-million dollar mansion guy to think..."It won't happen to me."


For boat owners in the area...just like marina managers were clueless. Hardly any had ever been in anything like it. At least some of the old timers remembers what a hurricane is like but from a longer event in the 1962 March Storm or moved from areas that had previously had their butts handed to them.


One thing that supported the chicken little theory for the Jersey area was the previous year's Cat 3 Irene which was supposed to be bad and hardly was noticed when it went over jersey.
Every storm is different. I remember hearing people yelling though as to why didn't people move their boats. Well, the question would be move them where and when? Based on what? Most had no idea what they were dealing with and their boats were the least of their worries.

I have a friend who was in Miami when Andrew approached. She had a hurricane plan, but she didn't even go check on her boat. She was far more concerned with family. They did get their house shuttered and they evacuated as per the orders in their area. Her kids were terrified. She was very prepared but her boat slid so far down on her list of priorities.

We have hurricane plans. Many, based on different circumstances. But the emphasis of all is not to risk life over material things.

I read the stories of Andrea and how people followed the instructions given so well and, as a result, very little loss of life. However, the very next hurricane to head that way, everyone jumped in their car and headed north. Being in a car on the road is the worst place to be. Traffic backed up for hours and hours. Many of those people headed either up the coast or toward Orlando. Well, the hurricane missed South Florida but crossed the state through the Orlando area.
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Old 04-21-2015, 01:19 PM   #13
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I lived for most of my childhood in FLA. We left the state when I was a "middle aged" child but moved back later. I can only remember one tropical storm that hit our place in FLA when I was a kid. We had a few tropical storms hit when I was a late teen and young adult but that was all until...

The weekend prior to my scheduled move to NC, Andrew decided to make a left turn and head to FLA. I got the moving truck a few days early, packed up and started driving just as the first rain bands hit.

Living in NC since then and we have been hit by quite a few hurricanes. Fran and Floyd were really bad. The land we own now still has trees on the ground from Fran. The destruction to some forests was pretty bad in Fran. Course, Hugo really did a number a few years before Fran to SC and NC.

There is an old quarry site in Raleigh that was used to chip up all of the down trees. The quarry looked like a valley but the chipped trees filled up that valley before the wood chips moved elsewhere.

Floyd was a 500 year storm in terms of rainfall. I went Down East a few times to help with the clean up and the destruction was unreal. Most of the water damage was not from a raging flood but due to a slow rise of the water. Houses and cars were destroyed by the water getting into the structures not the water tearing down the building or tossing the car around a tree. Very odd to see houses that looked perfectly fine at first glance but a closer look showed something else. I literally saw thousands of destroyed homes that looked just fine.

I was near one town that was flooded out, and in the trees a good 20 feet above your head, you could see flood water debris. How more people did not die on that flood plane is beyond me.

The crops turned black from the chemicals, fuel and sewage in the flood water. Just awful. During my first visit the flood waters were still rising in some areas and there was one place we could drive in no further. There was a National Guard truck that could drive in looking for survivors but thankfully the people had gotten out. A local family had an air boat, which is pretty unusual to see up here, and they had rescued many of their neighbors from the flood. A few weeks later we were back at that spot helping a family who were rescued by the air boat. They said the water had risen so fast they could not get out of the house. Their cars got flooded and what was freaking is that the headlights turned on under water. If the air boat had not gone through the subdivision they don't think they would have survived.

The water in this area was bad to say the least. It was down stream from a flooded out sewage plant. After we were done cleaning up that house, I took a VERY long bath and threw out my boots. What blew my mind is that there were people riding ATVs in that flood water! I think the contents of my septic tank would have been safer and cleaner.

A diary farmer lost about 100 cows. They were hauling off the dead cows in dump trucks which is a Twilight Zone image seeing dead cow legs point up from the back of a dump truck. Some of the cows got into a single wide trailer trying to escape the flood waters. The water destroyed the trailer with water damage but how do you remove a couple of dead cows that weigh thousands of pounds from a trailer?

The answer is you don't. You burn down the trailer. I have old photos somewhere of that trailer burned out showing the metal frame, metal mattress springs and cow ribs. We were not in the mood for BBQ after seeing and smelling that area.

Later,
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Old 04-21-2015, 01:35 PM   #14
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Dan- I was here in Wilmington for Floyd- It looked like a pavement peeler on its way, but petered out into the rain event you described. Coastal, very little damage, but inland was flooded like nothing before.

A few days after the event, I went to the Cape Fear River in Wilmington and observed. Obviously the water was flowing fast as it was still draining from inland, but what was unreal was the color and odor of the water. Purple. And the odor was something I had never detected before, strong enough to weaken knees, and certainly not pleasant. Have no way to even describe it.
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Old 04-21-2015, 02:13 PM   #15
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The storm flushed out all the agricultural holding ponds and fertilizers. The mixture of manure and nutrients created a dangerous brew. The combination devastated the fisheries and marshes on the coast. It was definitely a historical event in North Carolina.
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Old 04-21-2015, 04:46 PM   #16
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Every storm is different. I remember hearing people yelling though as to why didn't people move their boats. Well, the question would be move them where and when? Based on what? Most had no idea what they were dealing with and their boats were the least of their worries.

I have a friend who was in Miami when Andrew approached. She had a hurricane plan, but she didn't even go check on her boat. She was far more concerned with family. They did get their house shuttered and they evacuated as per the orders in their area. Her kids were terrified. She was very prepared but her boat slid so far down on her list of priorities.

We have hurricane plans. Many, based on different circumstances. But the emphasis of all is not to risk life over material things.

I read the stories of Andrea and how people followed the instructions given so well and, as a result, very little loss of life. However, the very next hurricane to head that way, everyone jumped in their car and headed north. Being in a car on the road is the worst place to be. Traffic backed up for hours and hours. Many of those people headed either up the coast or toward Orlando. Well, the hurricane missed South Florida but crossed the state through the Orlando area.
The sad truth of the matter is the Florida infrastructure is inadequate to handle the evacuation guidance that is issued. Heck, it barely handles the snowbird invasion.
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Old 04-21-2015, 05:04 PM   #17
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Greetings,
Mr. BB. "Well, the question would be move them where and when?" EXACTLY! We'll be in Ft. Lauderdale for the upcoming hurricane season and I think we'll stay exactly where we are in the canal. We will remove canvas, double up lines and batten down the hatches etc. but essentially stay put. Where does one run to when one doesn't know which direction. The noted author Stephen Leacock once described someone who "flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions." Stephen Leacock - Wikiquote
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Old 04-21-2015, 05:10 PM   #18
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The sad truth of the matter is the Florida infrastructure is inadequate to handle the evacuation guidance that is issued. Heck, it barely handles the snowbird invasion.
Actually far more people evacuate than are told to. Evacuation is ordered only based on concern for surge and so is only the easternmost area. Now, if all decide to wait until the last minute and then head north to Orlando, there is a problem. We have not been involved directly in a South Florida hurricane, only NC.

We'd decide what to do based on a combination of the forecast and any orders issued. There is a map of Fort Lauderdale evacuation zones. It shows the areas East of the ICW is the only zone for Category 1 and 2 hurricanes. The area between Federal Highway and the ICW is an evacuation zone for Category 3 and above, but then few of those have ever targeted Fort Lauderdale. Timing also would play a role for us. In some situations we would possibly evacuate by water. We even have a hurricane contract in NC just in case. 2/3 of the time we're not home so others would be taking care of things.

I can't even find the last time Fort Lauderdale was evacuated or had a hit from Category 3 or above. Wilma (Category 2) caused some damage downtown but was worse by the time it crossed to Naples. Wilma did cause damage to some dwellings in West Broward county. 1964 and 1949 were bad years apparently. Again, I wasn't here...wasn't anywhere yet.
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Old 04-21-2015, 05:20 PM   #19
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Greetings,
Mr. BB. "Well, the question would be move them where and when?" EXACTLY! We'll be in Ft. Lauderdale for the upcoming hurricane season and I think we'll stay exactly where we are in the canal. We will remove canvas, double up lines and batten down the hatches etc. but essentially stay put. Where does one run to when one doesn't know which direction. The noted author Stephen Leacock once described someone who "flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions." Stephen Leacock - Wikiquote
We have fairly protected boat storage available so for us it would be more about whether to leave home or not and history says a storm forcing us to evacuate would be very unusual.

Our most likely situation is to be elsewhere when one is forecast.
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Old 04-21-2015, 05:36 PM   #20
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Actually far more people evacuate than are told to. Evacuation is ordered only based on concern for surge and so is only the easternmost area. Now, if all decide to wait until the last minute and then head north to Orlando, there is a problem. We have not been involved directly in a South Florida hurricane, only NC.

We'd decide what to do based on a combination of the forecast and any orders issued. There is a map of Fort Lauderdale evacuation zones. It shows the areas East of the ICW is the only zone for Category 1 and 2 hurricanes. The area between Federal Highway and the ICW is an evacuation zone for Category 3 and above, but then few of those have ever targeted Fort Lauderdale. Timing also would play a role for us. In some situations we would possibly evacuate by water. We even have a hurricane contract in NC just in case. 2/3 of the time we're not home so others would be taking care of things.

I can't even find the last time Fort Lauderdale was evacuated or had a hit from Category 3 or above. Wilma (Category 2) caused some damage downtown but was worse by the time it crossed to Naples. 1964 and 1949 were bad years apparently. Again, I wasn't here...wasn't anywhere yet.
Depending on the projected path of a cane, there could be evacuations all along the coast and even inland areas. Keep in mind there are a large number of manufactured homes in FL which are toast to wind damage. What usually happens is everyone tries to leave at the last minute hoping the trajectory will change. The worse nightmare is a cane that heads toward Miami and then about 40 miles out turns north and starts barreling up the east coast. You think traffic on I-95 or the Turnpike will be going anywhere? That is if you are lucky enough to make it that far west.

Our approach is different. We evacuate early and leave FL from mid May until mid Oct even though we have a home generator. Keep our boat on the Great Lakes. Hurricanes don't scare me but we choose not to potentially be inconvenienced by them. I have stayed through too many of them with boarded up windows and no electricity. 100% humidity in the summer without air flow isn't pleasant.
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