You’re Getting Florida Wrong: Hurricane Edition

With Hurricane Ian finished drowning most of Florida in the ocean, I thought we’d go over some basic facts about hurricane so your script won’t make me want to drown myself in daiquiri.

Hurricane Parties Are, In Fact, A Thing

But you know what’s also a thing? Tropical storms and Cat 1’s. Storms that have enough wind to blow over a poorly-anchored lawn flamingo and enough rain to make driving on any road feel like I-4 in rush hour. Okay, wait, I need to make a few detours.

It Rains, Like, Every Day in Florida

I know, I know. It’s the Sunshine State! How could they lie? I don’t know, ask Greenland. Yes, there is a lot of strong sun (again, Brits: put on your fucking sunscreen) but it’s also the subtropics so there’s a lot of fucking rain. Pretty much every afternoon between three and five you can count on a soaker lasting at least twenty minutes. And sometimes that rain and wind come out hard. One time I was trying to cross a parking lot in my car during a squall and I got caught behind a shopping cart doing ten miles an hour down the center lane.

Basically, for a lot of Floridians, a tropical storm is an afternoon storm that lasts a little longer.

People Can’t Fucking Drive in Florida, and It Gets Worse in the Rain

I lived in Orlando, which meant I was constantly surrounding by a healthy mix of:

  1. UCF students who were almost definitely driving drunk/distracted
  2. Old people with the reaction time of a sloth on quaaludes
  3. Gearheads who tricked out their shitty 1996 Honda Civic and continually scream past you going twenty over only to get stuck at the next red light
  4. Tourists who don’t understand that Florida is Death Race and our yellow lights last six seconds. Six fucking seconds, Marge, six. You do not need to slam on your brakes the second it turns yellow. You need to hit the accelerator. Not only are you making it, the next ten people are, too. For fuck’s sake.

Take all of that and pour thousands of gallons of rainwater on it and see what happens. Actually, I’ll tell you: a bunch of people are going to slow down to twenty miles an hour and put their hazards on and a bunch of other people are going to take that personally and start doing twenty over, tailgating everyone and fucking Tokyo drifting around grandma in her beat to shit Chevy Tahoe.

I-4 Is the Worst Interstate in the Country

I know everyone says that about their nearest highway, but everyone besides Central Florida is wrong. I would rather go down I-95 blindfolded with my foot hot-glued to the accelerator than drive I-4 during rush hour.

Hurricane Parties: You’re Not Going Anywhere, Might As Well Get Drunk

Nobody is partying during a category five. Hell, maybe not a category three. Floridians do have some sort of self-preservation instinct, even if it is beer-battered and sauced. Hurricane parties are strictly for those storms that obviously won’t do much more than overfill the pools.

Now, do Floridians have a higher threshold for where they consider the line between ‘whatever I’m getting fucked up,’ and ‘oh shit oh shit oh fuck shit shit shit?’ Probably. But these are the same people who, if it snowed enough to stick – even just a thin layer of powder – would immediately start screaming and crash their car into a palm tree. It’s all a matter of where you’re from and what you’re used to.

The Week Leading Up to the Hurricane is Pure Anxiety Hell

Imagine, if you will, NASA decides to host a press conference. In this press conference, they admit that they have discovered an asteroid heading toward earth. And then the NASA guy just sort of…stops talking.

Reporter: So, how big is the asteroid?

NASA: Oh, impossible to say at this time. It could be a planet killer and destroy everything, or it could break up completely in our atmosphere. Not really sure yet.

Reporter: And it’s definitely going to hit us?

NASA: I never said that! We’re not sure where it’s going. It might hit it us. It might skim by. It might miss us completely. Actually, it might simply explode in the middle of the space and never get close enough to even be a bother. Not sure why I brought it up so soon, actually.

Reporter…how high are you right now?

NASA: About 238,900 miles up, why?

Then for the next week, the reports out of NASA change every fucking day. It’s a planet killer heading right for us. Actually it’s going to stay out in space. No, wait, we now see it will hit us but it’s only going to cause some coastal flooding. No, wait, new reports say…

Over and over and over again for a full week. That’s hurricane prediction. Your brain switches back and forth between, “I’m a Floridian, I can ride this out!” to “NOTHING IN ORLANDO IS RATED FOR MORE THAN A CAT 2 WE’RE ALL GOING TO BLOW AWAY AND DROWN” fast enough to give you vertigo. And then if you own a house, it’s like:

Worry One: If I don’t put up my hurricane shutters the hurricane will be bad and blow in all the windows and flood my house.

Worry Two: If I put up my hurricane shutters and then the whole things blows over all my neighbors will think I’m a weenie.

The week before the hurricane can be worse than the actual hurricane itself.

Hurricanes Can Spawn Tornadoes

I know, right? Like, who the fuck even authorized this?

But it’s true. Whatever sort of windy-nonsense is going on in hurricanes is the same that goes on in Tornado Alley. I’m not going to explain it because it’s all very technical and complicated and I have no understanding of any of it whatsoever. You could be sitting in your house, wind howling and rain drumming on the roof and occasionally the whole house shifts ever so slightly, not enough to actually mean anything but enough to spike your blood pressure, and then you hear it.

The god damned tornado siren.

And, as mentioned last week, Florida homes don’t have basements. So the best you can do is find a bathroom or closet with no windows and no outside walls and wait it out. I don’t even know how you’re supposed to distinguish the sounds of the hurricane from the sounds of a possible tornado. It’s just this funnelly piece of shit, blending in with its surroundings like some sort of meteorological cat burglar, and you don’t know it’s there until half your house is on your head.

We once came out of a hurricane to find that the neighbor’s shed had been picked up wholesale and dumped on another neighbor’s front yard half a block away.

There Are Legitimate Reasons People Can’t Evacuate

Some people work for hospitals or emergency services and need to work through the storm.

Some people don’t have any family anywhere else in the US and don’t have the money for a hotel.

Some people don’t have a reliable vehicle that they can count on getting them safely out of the storm’s path.

Some people are or have elderly family members with a lot of medical equipment who can’t be easily moved.

And on and on.

Not everybody is some stubborn idiot Florida Man who’s smoking three cigarettes and a joint at the same time and crushing orange soda with vodka and staring at the TV and yelling, they don’t know what they’re talking about! I’m going to tie myself to my ATV and I’ll be fine! Most people understand but have no other recourse than to hunker down and ride it out.

So quite being a Judging Judy from the comfort of your own home.

You can definitely judge anyone you see actually in the water as a hurricane approaches, though. Those people are not of sound mind.

One thought on “You’re Getting Florida Wrong: Hurricane Edition

  1. I don’t have anything against Florida, but I don’t think I’ll be visiting the Sunshine State anytime soon, if ever. I have enough to worry about in my own state. I’ve had to deal with a couple of tornadoes, but I saw them coming. They weren’t invisible stalkers waiting to crush your house, especially a house without a basement or a separate storm cellar. Good grief.


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