Tropical weather systems, and hurricanes in particular, have their own idiosyncrasies. Understanding them can help us deal with them more effectively. Misunderstanding them can be a disaster
It was 7:30 p.m on a Sunday evening. The phone rang. Lia Ditton, a woman with whom I have sailed extensively and weather routed across the Atlantic, was calling from Hawaii. A highly experienced long distance and shorthanded sailor, she is also an experienced transatlantic rower. Now, the Safety Officer for the Great Pacific Race, a rowing race from San Francisco to Hawaii, she wanted to discuss the current hurricane situation in the Pacific. With a fleet of rowers and a series of tropical storms out there, the mix could be a big problem.
Putting hurricane realities into perspective, it should be mentioned that the weakest level of hurricane has 74-95 miles per hour winds. The strongest is in excess of 157 miles per hour. In 95 miles per hour winds the wind strength prevents people from walking upright. Who would want to? On land, with lawn furniture and BBQ grills flying through the air, the upright person would present a larger target for a multitude of lethal missiles unleashed by the wind! Offshore, a person trying to walk upright could easily be blown overboard. Crawling becomes an option. It’s not a great one! A stunning fact, however, is that in many places, it’s the water that accompanies a hurricane which creates the most devastation. Whether one is rowing or sailing a boat, the seas become an avalanche of water. If “knowledge is power”, knowing a bit about hurricanes can help us avoid— or at least prepare for—the worst of it. Read more.