Sunday, September 16, 2018

Slo-mo Flo

Hurricane Florence just might be one of the strangest storms that I can remember.

What I do remember is Hugo.

Hugo was back in 1989. I was a sports writer for The Dispatch and a 13-year resident of Lexington by that time. Having originally moved in from Pennsylvania, I'd never really been in a hurricane before.

But Hugo scared the bejeezus out of me. Kim and I lived in a wooded parcel at the south end of town with tall trees looming everywhere. It's amazing how much bigger 100-foot tall trees get when they're swaying over your house.

Hugo, if I recall, made landfall near Charleston, then traveled inland up through Charlotte. I don't know if it was still technically a hurricane at that point, or downgraded to a tropical storm, but it brought fierce winds and wind gusts as it skirted through Lexington.

Trees toppled. Power was lost. We still put out a paper, but it had to be printed at The Salisbury Post.

Florence, by comparison, looked to be a similar threat. It was huge. And it was tracking straight for our house.

But not before hitting our beach house in Cherry Grove, SC, first. Man, a double whammy.

Then strange stuff started happening. Further north, Wrightsville Beach became ground zero. New Bern took a horrible hit. Wilmington was in the cross hairs.

Our beach house is on the left. Did we dodge a bullet?
And then Florence curiously went from a wind event (100+ mph winds to 70 mph) to a rain event. It's traveling velocity slowed to three miles per hour, indicating this hurricane perhaps really was in no hurry at all. It headed south along the coast before going inland. Huh? Against the grain? Against the gulf stream? Against the jet stream? How does that happen?

For some reason, Cherry Grove seems to have dodged a bullet, if not an artillery shell. A random photographic image taken by the City of North Myrtle Beach and posted on Facebook Saturday shows our beach house with water perhaps ankle deep in the streets, but not much debris floating around. It's not raining. Lucky?

The rain is supposed to continue today as the storm, now a tropical depression, heads northwest around Charlotte before looping northeast into Pennsylvania. Around here, the winds have abated somewhat, although I don't think they were ever Hugo-like in the first place. We never lost power at our house. We even went out to eat Saturday evening.

According to the forecast, rain will fall all day today as Florence continues her slow trek through the Piedmont. Maybe I should have seeded my lawn?

Anyway, those tall trees in my neighborhood seem to be looming less as the storm passes through. Let's hope so. There's still a lot of rain to come.

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