Well, I wasn’t.
But I was watching it — had been since Sunday morning when The Weather Channel announced that Debby had become a tropical storm.
I have been through tropical storms before, but usually later in the season. We have always ridden them out with no problem. About 20 years ago, a minimal hurricane came ashore on the Fourth of July. We rode that out, as well.
However, we knew that if an evacuation order was issued, we were “outta there.” When Opal hit in 1995, our Seagrove neighbor Ken decided to ignore the evacuation order and keep company with a bottle of Jim Beam. JB was no comfort. He was terrified.
So we watched The Weather Channel. No one seemed to know where Debby would go and what it would do.
The map of the “track scenarios” looked like a bowl of multi-colored spaghetti.
There was the “European Model” that predicted the storm would be pulled west and hit Texas. I liked the idea of Debby doing Dallas instead Seagrove Beach, even though it raised, once again, the nagging moral dilemma that comes with hoping a storm does not hit you, for that means that you are hoping that a storm hits someone else.
(Was the Rev. Pat Robertson responsible for eight deaths and more than $1 billion in damages when he prayed that Hurricane Gloria would not damage his Virginia operation? God answered his prayers, he said, and Gloria hit farther north.)
The “American Model” predicted the storm would hit the Florida peninsula around Tampa.
The “Canadian Model,” in true Canadian fashion, predicted a middle course and had it going into the Florida Panhandle. (“Why did the Canadian cross the road? To get to the center line.”)
I did not like the Canadian Model.
Meanwhile, the Gulf roared with eight-foot swells and even the surfers stayed ashore — you know it is bad when surfers won’t surf.
Then we learned The Weather Channel had sent its on-the-spot weatherman, Jim Cantore, to Pensacola. That was not good. It is well known that Cantore attracts storms, and since Debby was a “right-handed storm” — all the power is on the right side of what might become the eye — and if it came ashore at Pensacola then the folks on the right side, that would be me, would take a battering.
Early in the afternoon, we got word to expect tropical-storm winds — 39 mph and above.
I went to the beach, and even though the tide is going out, waves were lapping at the foot of the stairs. Looking out, you could see the rip currents as the outgoing water rooster-tails the waves coming in.
Pretty, but dangerous.
Then, around 4 p.m., the rain came, but the wind had not picked up. The latest report said Debby may (emphasis on “may”) turn east and head toward the Big Bend of Florida. Libby the Lab resigned herself to the fact that there will be no run-on-the-beach-chase-the-ball-in-the-water today. If dogs can pout, she was pouting.
Back to The Weather Channel, which confirmed that Debby had turned eastward and the winds were getting stronger — 60 mph at the center of circulation. It might be Category I hurricane strength when it hit land late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
But Cantore was still in Pensacola.
Monday. Debby stalled about 100 miles southeast of us. Took Libby the Lab to run on the shore. Big waves. Little wind.
Came back to find that Cantore had moved to Panama City Beach and Debby was following him. Off to the east they were getting some wind and lots of rain.
As for us, the gray sky disappeared, replaced by fluffy white clouds flying high and bits of sun and blue peeking through. Vacationers, who had been stuck inside, headed for the beach and the water. Thanks to the counterclockwise circulation of the storm, the wind was coming offshore, which calmed the waves and reduced the risk of rip currents. There had been two red flags flying. Now there was only one.
Although the churned-up water was gray close to shore, farther out you could see the green and blue so common here. Then we got word that Debby, down to 45 mph, was slowly moving toward shore east of Panama City.
It was going to miss us.
Tuesday broke bright and sunny. Libby the Lab ran free on a beach made broader by the storm, which washed in sand instead of taking it out. Though the red flag was flying, it was obvious that things were getting back to normal. The long-range weather report is typical — sunny with scattered showers through July 4.
Another crappy day in paradise.
Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is a columnist and editorial writer for The Star. He can be reached at email@example.com.