For those that don’t know, the annual lists of tropical storm names are compiled 6 years in advance. At the beginning of the year, when I was putting together the items on my Memory List, I knew that Mindy was going to be a storm I could track this summer, and that knowledge brought equal parts excitement, interest, and, well, dread.
M-named storms have recently wreaked considerable damage on our planet. Maria decimated Puerto Rico; Michael tore apart the Florida panhandle. I was concerned that Mindy could very easily follow that path.
Well, this past week, Mindy officially formed. I got my answer.
Having lived in Florida for the past 7 years, I feel I’m starting to get more comfortable with the ebbs and flows of hurricane season. I have my emergency kit of batteries, flashlights, a portable USB charger, non-perishable food, a few gallons of bottled water, among other things. I’ve also picked up a few tricks along the way, like putting important documents in the dishwasher (in case of flooding, the dishwasher provides a water-tight seal) and filling up a bathtub with water (in case water service is disrupted, I can still manually fill up the toilet tank so I can flush).
With all the weather happenings in Florida, tracking the tropics is an activity I keep up with. I follow the waves coming off the western coast of Africa as they cross the Atlantic. I notice the lows forming in and around the Gulf of Mexico, and watch their paths towards the U.S.
We were still reeling from the devastation of Hurricane Ida, and Hurricane Larry was rotating off in the mid-Atlantic, when the possibility of Mindy started getting discussed. There was a low-pressure system in the Gulf, moving northeast towards the Florida panhandle. It wasn’t very organized – it didn’t have a formed center and didn’t have clear rotation – and it was approaching land quickly. If the system made landfall without strong enough winds to classify as a tropical storm, it wouldn’t get a name.
I watched it intently. I wanted this system to form into a strong enough storm just long enough to be called Mindy, then fall apart once it hit land, and not cause any destruction. And wouldn’t you know it? My wish came true.
The National Hurricane Center upgraded its status to a tropical storm for a single update. That’s it. Mindy was officially named at 5:00pm on Wednesday, and by the 11:00pm update, she was already downgraded to a tropical depression. She limped across Florida and Georgia, bringing wind and rain, but nowhere near the extent that the typical summer weather patterns brings to the south on any given afternoon.
A local meteorologist described Mindy well: “From a blob, to a WEAK tropical storm, to another blob in just under 12 hours.”
Cool. I’m happy to be known as a blob. I’d rather be remembered as being a blob, than a major hurricane that devastated homes, business, and lives.