Friday, September 03, 2010

Hurricane Hysterics, Deflated, Steam Northward; Air Travel Remains Normal

[Map showing air-travel delays, indicating only minor routine delays in Philadelphia (it's at the start of a holiday travel weekend), as of 9.10 a.m. this morning. Via]

[UPDATED, 6:45 p.m. EDT]

I suppose Drudge, who nobody pays much attention to these days, made the worst job of it, as usual. The poor boy had this hurricane headline on his Web site for a pretty long time this week: MONSTER! And he wasn't even talking about Bill Clinton. He was just hyping another hurricane.

Other media tumbled over themselves with the usual turbocharged cliches. This was a major storm churning and blasting, bearing down on, steaming toward, pounding and slashing and ready to unleash its fury ... and so on. I was especially impressed by the NPR man in Nags Head yesterday afternoon, who dramatically reported that the ocean was white with foam and did not appear "welcoming."

Storm arrived last night. Um, headline in this morning's Greensboro (NC) News-Record, far from the epicenter of this purported cataclysm: "Some Flooding on Outer Banks As Earl Passes." Here's the story of the great disaster.

The hype brigades have now decamped for points farther north. I knew camp had been broken last night when Rachel Maddow was reverently interviewing some guy on a Coast Guard cutter near Virginia, to where the vessel had steamed to avoid unsettled waters. "Thank you for your service, sir," she told the Coast Guardsman, who was doing his best to suggest how the "calm" waters lay "before the storm." [Hey, Rache: He's in the freaking Coast Guard, not the Marines, for crying out loud.] Meanwhile, is the intrepid Coast Guard cutter even now steaming farther away, perhaps to a point off Sandy Hook, lest a rainstorm splash its gunwhales?

[Early this evening, the Boston papers were still dutifully pumping out words like "lash" and "churn" and "fury" as the poor, hobbled ex-hurricane headed far out to sea like a confused whale, with just a brush past Cape Cod. And the Weather Channel, evidently determined to wring every last ounce of hype out of this busted valise of a hurricane, was valiantly still speculating early tonight that "New England and Cape Cod could see the brunt of Earl's fury."

Thankfully, the Cape Cod Times, at least, has got ahold of itself. Its Web site currently reports that "officials in Chatham say they are relieved that Earl has weakened but are still warning residents and tourists not to `tempt fate' by venturing too close to the water at the height of the storm Friday night."]
[And finally, at 8 p.m. tonight, the Weather Channel runs down the hurricane flag and surrenders to the facts with a new, altered report: "Tonight, Earl will make its last brush with the U.S. as it passes by southeastern New England."

OK, then. Avoid plunging into the surf tonight off Old Cape Cod, and remember that it might get a little rainy in New England. Some East Coast flights could be delayed -- but it's also the start of a holiday travel period, so that alone could cause delays. And oh, must we brace ourselves (to borrow from hurricane-hysteria patois) to have to watch the usual suspects who choose to live in flood zones wailing, per usual, when their rugs get wet?

If there are any significant disruptions in air travel, I will let you know. Meanwhile, keep your gunwhales dry.


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