**EDIT: I'm noticing a number of Florida neighbors in my blogstats who are looking for things like "fay spaghetti plot" on Google and end up here--as you can see, not a weather blog. Go to Weather Underground or the website for the National Hurricane Center and you'll find all the latest information. Stay Safe!**
Most readers of this blog won't need this useful link, but any US readers who live on a coast vulnerable to tropical disturbances will want to know about Weather Underground (see under Favorite Links at left). My sister Chantel -- an extreme-weather watcher since we were kids -- told me about this site after I moved here, and since the crazy hurricane season of 2004, I use it whenever there's something Chantel tells me we need to keep an eye on. It was four years ago today (well, in terms of it being a Friday--the date was 8/13/04 I think) that Hurricane Charley exploded in intensity on its way to Florida and while en route to Tampa Bay, decided to make a last minute right turn into Port Charlotte and environs, where it caused immense destruction. Stupidly I had not evacuated St Pete, although I had evacuated my apartment, which is in a flood zone, under official orders. I was staying with a friend who was not in the flood zone, but if a Category 3 or 4 storm had indeed come calling, flooding would be the least of the problems. (The media loves telling us that if a major hurricane did hit Tampa Bay, St Petersburg would turn from a peninsula into an island with most of its coastline underwater--including my apartment and my campus.) I don't think I've been as scared in my life as I was on 5 am that day looking at how the storm had grown overnight and was heading right for us. Now I'm a Nervous Nellie about the tropics, and news today of a tropical somethin' that could well intensify to a gal named Faye and possibly annoy Florida in the next week has me jumpy.
It does not help that Florida is most vulnerable during Aug, Sept, and Oct. During school. When I have responsibilities to my students and can't just cancel class and flee town when the spaghetti models* start to look dicey. When any cancelled class, whether I do it or the weather does it, screws up my syllabus!
*Spaghetti models: When the National Weather Service runs computer models on the storm's potential path, each model produces a line. All the lines are juxtaposed on a map to show the range of possibilities--the totality is known as the "spaghetti plot" or the "spaghetti models" because of how it looks. The NWS uses the spaghetti models to graph what's called a "Cone of Uncertainty" (I love that term, I have to say). If Tampa Bay falls at any point into the Cone of Uncertainty, Dr. Bundrick starts squawking and flapping her arms like a chicken.