I’ve been hearing my name a lot in the news lately as a category four hurricane with my name on it sets its sights on the southeast Atlantic coast. Previous incarnations of “Matthew” have included a tropical storm that hit New Orleans in 2004 and another tropical storm that hit Belize in 2011. This time my namesake made it to the Category 5 Club, up there with Camille, Andrew, and about half the storms in 2005, though he’s down to a three when last I heard. The name comes up on a rotating list every six years, but this will be the last time they name a hurricane after me. When a storm gets as bad as Matthew, the name gets retired from the list. At least I’m goin’ out with a bang.
As a weather nerd and veteran survivor of two major hurricanes (Betsy in 1965 and Camille in 1969), I know what the people of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas are going through right now. I also remember other storms starting up the eastern seaboard looping around, grazing Florida and then charging into the gulf, usually toward the Louisiana coast. Betsy was such a storm. We call them “yankee hurricanes.”
What’s so bizarre about Matthew is that the worst of hurricane season is over. The peak season runs from mid-August to mid-September. Storms of this magnitude don’t form this late in the season, at least they didn’t used to. During those peak weeks when I was a kid, we got hit by storms (alphabetically) named Betsy and Camille. Now New Orleans gets hit by storms (alphabetically) named Isaac and Katrina, and a visit from Matthew isn’t out of the question yet. Guess what’s causing this. (Global climate change.)Share