Last Monday, after work, Katie showed me the following: a hypothesized path of Hurricane Earl, projected to hit the Boston area Friday evening.
Katie and I immediately prepared for the worst. We didn’t need to be reminded of the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Ike, the $15 billion hurricane that ravaged Houston and East Texas, only to be outdone by Katrina. We live a mile from the beach; we feared several feet of rain/ocean water flowing down our street. We started talking about an evacuation plan to Waltham, a western suburb of Boston; Katie would leave first thing Friday morning, and I would try to fight through droves of evacuation traffic after work Friday afternoon. We kept our eye on Earl all week.
I heard the following on the radio the next day:
“Our weather for the next few days, look for hot, muggy conditions for the next three days. Friday, it will cool down a bit. We’re expecting some rain and high winds.”
Some rain and high winds? I’m sorry, a freaking hurricane is heading our way, I thought.
My co-workers shared a similar level of anxiety…or lack thereof. My supervisor told me not to worry–Quincy may get an inch of rain and some 20-30 mph winds. Our office bowling party Thursday evening consisted of bowling, not boarding our windows in preparation for a hurricane.
And it’s not like Boston’s never been hit by a hurricane. In 1991, Hurricane Bob brought 90 mph winds and 3-6 inches of rain to Massachusetts over an evening, causing $1.7 billion in damages, $1 billion to Massachusetts alone. The storm surge was up to 11 feet in some places along the coast.
Friday morning, I drove to work a bit early, expecting to see I-93 traffic lanes clogged with evacuees; I did not. Worse, after work Friday afternoon, I expected to be joined more potential evacuees on Highway 24 from Brockton and I-93 north-bound; there was surprisingly little traffic. Apparently, many Bostonians that lived along the coast stuck around for the hurricane.
On a sidenote, the effects of Hurricane Earl weren’t felt until about 10:30 pm Friday night, about two and a half hours after the Weather Channel predicted. We got an inch or two of rain Friday evening and moderate winds. Really, it felt like a rainstorm in west Texas.
Hurricane Earl did little damage to the Northeast. Hurricanes are not feared by Bostonians.