DID THE FARMERS' ALMANAC SEE HUGO COMING?

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Do you ever consult the Farmers’ Almanac?  Along with a multitude of helpful hints, like “Five Tips for Successful Backyard Chicken Raising,”  (because if I’m going to raise chickens, they definitely won’t be house chickens) there are “Best Days” charts to help you choose the best days to do just about anything.  For example, in 2015, while there are no good days in January, September, October, November, or December to buy a home, every month has at least 6 good days on which to marry.  But if you do buy a home, hopefully you won’t need to ask for a loan in March or April because neither has any good days for such.   

All kidding aside, the weather forecast for January and the first 2 weeks of February for our little corner of the world seemed to coincide pretty much with our reality and I had no complaints.  But, then Old Man Winter must have decided to pay us a visit and decided to hang around for a while.  Honestly, sir, we don’t mind if you decide to move on.  Looking towards the future, March looks wet and in April, it says that golfers will face a wet course for the Masters. (So may the best slogger win.)  Come the second week of November, it is forecasting an “unusually late hurricane threat for the Gulf Coast.”  I think I’ll file that away for now and check back in November to see what our local forecasters are saying. 

If you grew up in Charleston SC in the 50s-60s, then you have to remember our local weatherman, Charlie Hall.  He was on the air in September 1989 the night Hugo came ashore.  I remember very distinctly sitting in our living room that evening watching Charlie Hall as the station signed off to move to a more secure location.  Recalling his last words that night still gives me goose bumps, as he basically said that if we were still in our homes, it was too late to leave and he hoped that we would still be there in the morning.  The Great One and I looked at each other as those words sunk in knowing full well that we really had no good reason for still being at home.  With two young children, we should have long been out of town, but here we were at the 11th hour with only ourselves to blame for our stupidity.  

After too many Hail Marys to count and a long sleepless night, during which a tree found its way through the roof creating a skylight in our living 

 

room while also taking out the French doors in our den, we were grossly unprepared for the transformation in our neighborhood courtesy of Hugo.  Snapped pine trees were strewn about like long forgotten Lincoln Logs on a playroom floor while large stately oaks were uprooted resting precariously against houses and blocking roadways.  Power lines in the older parts of the neighborhood were down and the transformers were blown.  Of course, it would be weeks before power would be restored.  All of this was just within walking distance.  Streets and highways had to be cleared before anyone could drive in or out of the neighborhood and with no electricity, we had no way of seeing pictures that were being broadcast nationally of the true devastation Hugo wrought on Charleston and the surrounding communities.  We truly were the lucky ones.  God had forgiven our stupidity – I’m sure his Mother helped us out.  After all, I did keep her awake all night with my never-ending prayers.   

But in the wake of destruction and havoc left by Hugo’s rage, the Lowcountry area aided by workers from all over the country, rolled up its sleeves, towed its displaced boats and houses out of the streets, rebuilt, renewed and refurbished.  Little by little, life returned to normal.  Would we ever ride out a hurricane the size of Hugo again?  Over 25 years later, we both agree that was the stupidest decision we have ever made and not one we’re likely to repeat.

Loving a good challenge, I decided to backtrack to see if the Farmers’ Almanac from 1989 had correctly predicted the hurricane that would become Hugo.  Unable to find that specific almanac, I relied on an Old Farmer’s Almanac for 1989.  While the southeast coast forecast did predict a tropical storm for July and heavy rain for September 18-28, it made no mention of any hurricanes at all during the summer/fall of 1989.   It should be noted that neither almanac claims to be infallible where weather prognostication is concerned but offer their best estimation as to future weather patterns for specific areas.  Therefore, I will mark my calendar for November 2015 and keep my eye on the Gulf Coast.  I do find myself agreeing with Peter Geiger, Editor of Farmers’ Almanac, “May it rain just enough.”