I’m a natural worrywart. A few days ago, when Irma was still out in the middle of the Atlantic and Harvey was still the #1 topic, I wrote a post about being worried that Irma might hit my son, who lives in the Tampa Bay area. My rational mind told me I was probably just catastrophizing, because I tend to do that. I mean, what were the chances the eyewall of this storm, would actually go right over him? It really didn’t seem all that likely.
But I couldn’t shake the bad feeling I had. I have good intuition, but my intuition tends to get mixed up with my tendency to catastrophize everything, and it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference. As a result, my intuition doesn’t always work very well, since I get “bad vibes” even about things that pose no danger.
This time, my intuition was accurate. As the days passed since I wrote that post, Irma appears to be doing exactly what I prayed it wouldn’t do. Like a sadistic narcissist, this bitch has been teasing me and giving false hope — she moved to the east for awhile and looked like she was going to head up the Atlantic, sparing the Tampa area from the worst of the storm. I was able to relax a bit and laugh at myself for having been so worried.
But yesterday she shifted back to the west. Unless a miracle happens, she will be skirting up the western coast of Florida, with the eyewall passing directly over my son’s area. It won’t have weakened too much by the time the worst of it hits late Sunday night or early Monday morning — at best it might be a category 3 hurricane, which is still pretty bad.
My son is in some ways his father’s son. He lacks his dad’s narcissism and lack of empathy or conscience, but he definitely has his stubborness. I’ve been begging him to evacuate and drive up here until the danger passes. He said he didn’t have gas money. I told him not to worry about money and that I would provide anything he would need, but his answer was no. He’s determined to stay and ride this thing out. Now it’s too late for him to evacuate even if he decided to finally do so (which I know he won’t). The roads going north are bumper to bumper and there is no gas to be had.
I think there is another reason for his decision to stay besides his stubborness. Since he was a small boy, he’s always been fascinated by storms. When he was in his early teens, he flirted with the idea of being a tornado chaser. He used to watch all those Weather Channel shows about brave men and women who put themselves in the paths of dangerous tornadoes just for the adrenaline rush and to take videos of them for the rest of us more faint-hearted people to marvel at.
So I think he sees this as the opportunity of a lifetime, an adventure like no other, a dream come true for any fan of severe weather who is a bit of an adrenaline junkie too. He wants to have a story to tell, a story that few others will be able to tell. It’s like being a fighter pilot in World War II and or having climbed Mount Everest. “I was in Hurricane Irma back in ’17,” is something that will definitely get people’s attention.
My son is not going into this blind. He has been tracking this storm, paying attention to the warnings and evacuation orders, has gotten all the supplies he needs, and has chosen to leave his apartment (which is in the storm surge zone) and go slightly inland to a sturdy one story brick home where he will be riding Irma out with about 9 of his friends (it’s still in Tampa though). They are well prepared and he tells me they are not in an area prone to storm surge or flooding.
But this hurricane is a beast, and who knows what havoc she will bring? Irma is unpredictable, and not like any other hurricane. Even if my son and his friends are safe from storm surge, they are not safe from the furious winds, which will be around 100-112 mph as the eyewall passes over them. More than anything, I am glad he is not alone. But I’m still terrified for him.
Please keep my son and his friends in your prayers.