As we’ve all come to learn from bitter experience, the worst place to be when a hurricane strikes is just to the right of the eye as it comes ashore. That’s where the greatest force and the highest storm surge hit, because at that point you’re dealing with not only the head-on circular speed of the counter-clockwise winds, but the forward momentum of the storm itself (at least I think that’s why; any more weather-savvy people out there are invited to correct me).
Conversely, if you’ve got to be within the radius of such a storm, the “best” place to be is to the left of the eye, because that way you just get the hurricane’s “backhand” as it is moving in a direction opposite that of the wind.
Thus Hugo hit McLellanvile harder than it did Charleston, and Katrina slammed little towns in western Mississippi harder than it did New Orleans (not that that was much comfort to New Orleans once the Lake Pontchartrain levee broke).
So it struck me as interesting, looking at the map we ran
on the front page this morning, to see the way Rita had shifted course. Galveston and Houston were able to breathe a little easier, as it looked as though they might get the backhand now, when the opposite had seemed likely earlier. But in shifting course to the east, the greatest force of the storm was now projected to hit the greatest concentration of oil refineries in the region.
Is God trying to tell us something? Is He giving us a more direct hint — since we haven’t taken the earlier ones, which were none too subtle (9/11, Katrina) — that maybe, just maybe, we ought to be thinking about a serious energy policy? One in which we pursue alternative sources of power for all we’re worth while conserving like crazy and in the meantime (as long as we’re still relying on some oil) looking for other places to get and process oil domestically besides the Gulf Coast?
Maybe. But before I make too big a deal about this in theological terms, let’s wait and see where the storm actually does come ashore…