Two weeks ago, I noted that people would probably be interested in how Muffin and Squeaker dealt with Hurricane Irene when it hit Brookline as a tropical storm. But Nomi and I were still processing the event. (Although I did note how it felt like time travel to me, and Nomi had two short posts about our experiences.)

But finally, we were ready to discuss it. The Brookline Parent column for Brookline Patch this week, Dealing With Disasters, is about how we coped with the tropical storm. It's not as dramatic as it might have been, for which we are grateful. But it is, we hope, amusing.

Anyway, go read Dealing With Disasters for a link to the Brookline Police Department's Emergency Preparedness Tips if nothing else.
A year ago today, Hurricane Katrina made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane near New Orleans. It was the worst natural disaster in the United States. It is believed that the hurricane caused more than 1,800 deaths, and it displaced over one million people.

May the victims be remembered and may the survivors find as smooth a transition as possible into their new lives.

(Astronomy Picture of the Day, August 29, 2005: Hurricane Katrina)
It's being reported by the Associated Press that the World Meteorological Organization has officially retired five hurricane names from last year's season. Hurricane names are retired when a particular hurricance is so devastating that it would be inappropriate to reuse the name for another hurricane.

Katrina, of course, is on the list, given its status as the most devastating hurricane in recent memory and the one that almost destroyed New Orleans.

Dennis, Rita, Stan and Wilma are the other four hurricane names never to be used again.

The new names taking over those slots: Don, Katia, Rina, Sean and Whitney. They will enter the rotation in 2011.
In reply to a query about hurricane names for January, I got a response from Mr. Frank Lepore of the National Hurricane Center. I asked if the 2006 names list starts in January, or if we keep using the 2005 list (and the Greek letters) until hurricane season officially begins. He wrote:


We would use the 2006 list. Note the "hurricane season" June 1st to Nov 30th encompasses 97 percent of tropical cyclone activity in any given year based on climatology (the historic record to 1851).

(From our Frequently asked questions) An early hurricane can be defined as occurring in the three months prior to the start of the season, and a late hurricane can be defined as occurring in the three months after the season. With these criteria the earliest observed hurricane in the Atlantic was on March 7, 1908, while the latest observed hurricane was on December 31, 1954, the second “Alice” of that year which persisted as a hurricane until January 5, 1955. The earliest hurricane to strike the United States was Alma which struck northwest Florida on June 9, 1966. The latest hurricane to strike the U. S. was late on November 30, 1925 near Tampa, Florida. (Contribution from Blake et al. 2005.)


Frank Lepore
Public Affairs Officer
National Hurricane Center
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds...but Herodotus said nothing about hurricanes.
1. The Messenger spacecraft, which was launched on August 2, 2004, did a flyby of Earth exactly one year later for a gravity assist. (It's next flyby will be past Venus, sometime in October of 2006.) The spacecraft took a series of pictures of our planet as it flew by, and NASA put them together into an Earth Departure Movie which you can find by clicking on the link.

2. In the meantime, as Hurricane Katrina devastates the American Gulf, one of our geostationary satellites snapped a picture of it which you can find at today's Astronomy Picture of the Day. What astonishes me is how huge the storm is; it could easily cover all of Florida. Reminds me of Jupiter's Great Red Spot, which is as large as three planet Earths.

(Thanks to many, many people for pointing these out.)
It was bound to happen.

A few news sources have put the phrase "Katrina and the Waves" in their articles on the current hurricane. For those who don't get it, Katrina and the Waves was an English rock band fronted by an American, Katrina Leskanich, in the 1980s. Their most famous song, "Walking on Sunshine," was released in 1985 and became a worldwide hit.

Out of curiosity, I did a little searching on the band, and discovered that despite Leskanich having left it in 1999, both she and the band are going strong. The band maintains a webpage at and re-released their original recordings two years ago. Meanwhile, Katrina Leskanich herself has a new solo CD coming out in October. For more information, you can also check out the Wikipedia entry on Katrina and the Waves.
May everyone in New Orleans and Louisiana find safety and survive Hurricane Katrina.

For those who are as interested in history as I am, the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Lake Charles, Louisiana, offers a set of pages devoted to the history of Louisiana Hurricanes.
Last year in this post, I copied the list of hurricane names for 2004 from

Who I am to break a tradition, especially since hurricane season has already started? For 2005, the names of the Atlantic tropical storms will run down this list:


I once again note that the first chance for Hurricane Michael will be in 2006.

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