Apr 20, 200910:18 AM
The Editor's Room
Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde
Errol Laborde: How to redefine hurricane season
April is one of New Orleans’ best months – unfortunately it has also become a sign-post for one of the city’s most dreaded months. As this week ends, we are only a bit more than a month away from June 1, the designated beginning of hurricane season.
We do not portend to be prophets, but we will boldly make these predictions:
- In the fall, as you prepare to carve your pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern you will not be effected by a tropical storm.
-As you settle down for your Thanksgiving dinner you will not have to worry about a hurricane.
We say that although the National Weather Service insists that the hurricane season lasts through the end of November. On the front end, had you planned to commemorate D-Day last June 6 you would have also been within the “season,” although there was not even a tropical hiccup anywhere around.
Now for the new season: As May 2009 moves into June, we will again be reminded ad-nauseam that the season begins June 1. We are no meteorologists but we will venture another prediction:
-There will be no hurricane on the first of June nor is there likely to be much tropical activity during that month.
What we collectively call the “hurricane season” treats all the weeks of the six-month period as equals, though they are not. Our concern is that with all the renewed attention given to the season, we are scaring people from visiting, investing or living in our area for six months out of every year. If we send the message to the world that New Orleans is a tropically dangerous place from June through November of every year, we will never be able to grow. Fortunately, while the city’s founders knew about summer hurricanes, there was no one scaring them away with talk about a prolonged hurricane season. They might have been discouraged from building a city.
We need to make people aware of potentially dangerous weather conditions, but there must be a more precise picture. Why not divide the time frame into sub-seasons? For example:
• June though July- “Shoulder Tropical Season.” Subject to tropical depressions, tropical storms and an occasional hurricane.
• August through September. “High Tropical Season.” Greatest likelihood of hurricane activity.
• October- “Moderate Tropical Season.”
•November- “Low Tropical Season.”
Distinctions could even vary geographically – threats going up or down in certain months in Florida or the Caribbean.
Doing it that way, people will know to be cautious but also have a better sense of the potential. We need to do something: If we become so paralyzed as a community that we can barely function for half of every year, then Katrina will have done even more damage than we thought.
Let us know what you think. Any comments about this article? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. For the subject line use HURRICANE SEASON. All responses are subject to being published, as edited, in this newsletter. Please include your name and location.
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