Tropical Storm Cristobal will make landfall today, and I don’t know how to feel about that.
I’m not referring to the high storm surge and possible destruction it will cause throughout the Gulf states. Of course those are bad; thanks again for yet another bitch slap, 2020. I’m on the fence about that name more than anything else.
I just think hurricanes should sound fierce. Cristobal doesn’t. It’s Spanish for “Christ-bearer.” I suppose in a roundabout way it works—e.g., “Holy Christ, we can’t bear another catastrophe this year”–though personally, wouldn’t it make sense to use the Spanish name for “storm” instead? Tormenta. That sounds pretty bad-ass, right? Cristobal reminds me of a hairdresser or a soccer player, neither of whom are particularly scary.
Unfortunately, the list of official names for the 2020 hurricane season doesn’t get much better. To wit, here are a few of ’em:
- Dolly is up next. Great for cloned sheep and amply-endowed country music stars, but a fail for a deadly storm.
- Edouard, Gonzalo, Marco. The people in charge of naming storms were obviously on a Latin kick this year. This trio is no bueno.
- Isaias. Spanish and Biblical, like Cristobal. It’s as if they were going down a list and checking off boxes. This was a two-for-one.
- Nana. Are you kidding me?! That’s my grandmother. She bakes chocolate chip cookies and knits afghans. I’m not going to board up my door when she’s on her way; I’m going to open it wide and let her in!
- Fay, Sally, Vicky. I’m all for equality (and once upon a time, tropical storms were all given female names), but names ending in “y” sound more cute than deadly. Couldn’t they have picked something like Xena? I’d make damn sure to steer clear of a warrior princess.
- Teddy. The same holds true for men’s names. Teddy is a cute and cuddly stuffed bear. The more direct Ted, while not ideal, would have been a better choice. I can almost give this name a pass because of Roosevelt, who did awesome things like explore the Amazon jungle and finish delivering a speech after taking a bullet to the chest. But he’s pretty much the only cool Teddy to ever live (and that was 100+ years ago).
- Kyle. Kyle’s an accountant, not a wicked storm bringing 75-mph+ winds and making mincemeat out of houses and trees. I’ll pass.
- Wilfred. Is this a joke? Will Fred do what? Make landfall in New Orleans? Only time will tell! I give them a little bit of credit for at least not picking the similar-sounding Wilford, a name associated with Brimley, the actor-slash-oatmeal-salesman. By the way, I just googled Wilford Brimley and was shocked to learn he’s still alive. I thought he died over a decade ago.
Really, there aren’t any names this year that push all the right buttons. Hurricane Hanna has a decent ring to it, but I wish they’d turned it into a palindrome because the name just feels open-ended otherwise. Omar (Biblical and Muslim, so now we’re branching out!) has potential; it means “flourishing, long-lived” so it could be appropriate for a storm that wreaks havoc across a wide swath. It’s probably the best of the bunch. You can check out the full list of 2020 names here and decide for yourself which is best.
Tara and I are currently sitting on the back patio, enjoying the morning sunshine and a light breeze. It may storm later; we’re just hoping not as badly as Thursday evening, which packed quite a wallop. I managed to capture some great shots, including this stunner:
I should point out that this is a single image and not a composite. There was that much lightning in one single strike! I have long been in awe of the thunderstorms in the Black Hills. This line of storms caused some serious damage in Spearfish, with baseball-sized hail and 70-mph winds taking out a lot of windows in both cars and houses. We dodged a bullet in Rapid, relatively speaking; our hail was “only” about 1″ in diameter. It did manage to ruin a couple of Tara’s newly-planted tomato starts, but could have been a lot worse.
By the way, after years of futilely trying to capture lightning, I finally figured out the secret. It’s called video. I just point my phone in the direction of the storm and hit record, and then export the best frame. So much easier than aiming a camera at the sky, which is almost always a gigantic fail because, by the time you see the lightning bolt and press the shutter, it’s already gone. I’m sure purists consider what I’m doing cheating, but even our staff photographer gave me kudos for these shots, so I’ll take it.
This wasn’t the weekend we were expecting, by the way. My parents had planned a trip out here to visit, and even got as far as the Portland airport, when my mom called me Friday afternoon.
“I’ve got good news and bad news,” she said. “Our luggage is on the way to Rapid City. Unfortunately, we are not.”
My parents fly non-rev standby, an option for current and former airline employees hoping to save money on airline travel. Tickets cost a fraction of the normal price, but unfortunately, are granted on a first-come, first-serve basis dependent upon empty seats. And because of COVID, airplanes aren’t filling their cabins due to social distancing requirements. That, plus the fact that more people are taking to the skies again, meant they didn’t make their flight and had to cancel plans. I kinda hoped they’d just buy tickets since they’re so cheap nowadays. They’ve tentatively rescheduled for late July. Hopefully that will go off without a hitch.
I kind of expect we’ll be dealing with a plague of locusts right about then…