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Hurricane History

Growing up on the Gulf Coast and now living in Florida on the Atlantic side, hurricanes are just a part of life. I experienced Frederic in 1979, which hit Mobile, Alabama, directly as a category 3. I remember walking outside during the eye of the storm and being overcome with awe at the pink-tainted stillness. There was absolutely no wind in the eye, but the approaching black wall of the storm packed winds of 120 mph.

Frederic’s most powerful winds lasted five hours, which my family spent holed up on our hallway with a radio, water, blankets and pillows. We tracked the storm’s longitude and latitude on a map, which is how we knew when the eye was over us.

Mobile lost power and water for nearly three weeks after Frederic, whose name is now retired along with the names of other killer storms like Camille, David, Andrew and Katrina. I learned to respect the power and the unpredictability of these storms and have had a fascination with tracking them as they evolve out in the Atlantic.

This chart by Unisys shows the history of Atlantic Tropical Storms by year. It’s interesting to compare the quiet years, like 1913 with the more active years, like 1926 or 2005.

I hope everyone in Gustav’s path takes heed and gets out if they are close to the coast.

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