June 2024: Hurricane Season Begins!

Number 122, June 2024

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Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.


From the Desk of:  Bill  

When you receive this newsletter, Kandy and I will be on our fifth trip taking grandchildren to tour the West. We will have two brothers, Ashton and Clay, with us. They live in the Knoxville area. When we return from this trip, we will have taken fourteen grandchildren on tours of the Western United States. 

­We drive on our trips west for several reasons. Perhaps the biggest reason is that if we see somewhere we want stop, we do it. I remember on one of our trips a few years ago, we were driving north of Vernal, Utah and I noticed a small sign saying something like “Dinosaur Tracks” with an arrow pointing to a small road. We went down the road to a state park: Red Fleet State Park (now temporarily closed). We hiked a mile or two across barren land (like in old western movies) to the edge of the Red Fleet Reservoir where we saw the footprints of dinosaurs in the stone. If we had not been driving and seen the sign, we would have missed this amazing site.

It is true that it takes time to get to the Grand Canyon driving, but it is also true there are a lot of things to see on the way. We try to have at least one fun stop each day.

One of our first stops will be in western Kentucky at the Land between the Lakes. There is an area there called the Bison and Elk Prairie that encloses elk and bison. You can drive through the rather large area and see the creatures. They will probably be the first elk and bison the boys will have seen. 

We also plan to take a ferry across the Mississippi River. Back when I was a boy living in southeast Missouri, sometimes we would go on a “day trip.” We would take a ferry across the river at Tiptonville, Tennessee drive north a few miles and take another ferry back across the river at New Madrid, Missouri. Back then, there were dozens of ferries crossing the Mississippi. Today, there are only 3 or 4 left.

As we go west, we plan to stop at a rather nice Route 66 museum in Elk City, Oklahoma. It has a number of old businesses like you might have seen on Route 66 back in the 1950s and 60s. There is even a soda fountain with an operating juke box with 45s.
That evening, we will stay and eat at the Big Texan Steakhouse in Amarillo, one of the more famous stops along Route 66. We will stay there, too. They have a motel that is styled like an old western street next to the steakhouse and the boys will enjoy it.

Our next main stop will be in Chama, New Mexico. We will be there two nights. During the day, we have reservations on the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad. It is a narrow gauge railroad that crosses the Colorado/New Mexico state line eleven times. The train is pulled with an old steam locomotive. We had hoped to go on this train in 2022, but it was not running because it was very dry and there was a fire hazard.
In Arizona, we will visit the Petrified Forest and then head west to Sunset Crater, an extinct volcano. Sunset Crater has been a popular stop with the grands on previous trips.

On our trip a couple of years ago, we stopped at the Petrified Forest with two of our grandsons, Josh (left) and Ben (right).

Our furthermost west point will be the Grand Canyon. We plan to meet my brother and his wife there. We have reservations on the south rim. When we lived in northern Arizona, we visited the Grand Canyon a number of times.

After we leave the Grand Canyon, we will go north into Utah. During my trip planning, I ran across the Navajo Moenave Dino park that has dinosaur tracks. We will check it out. Eventually winding up at the Red Fleet State Park I mentioned earlier. Hopefully, at least the trail to the dino footprints will be reopened.

We will then head to Ft. Bridger in southwest Wyoming. Ft. Bridger is now a state park and has been preserved/recreated like an old fort. Actually, it was more of a trading post than a log stockade. There are a lot of fun things to see there.

South Pass City (not exactly a huge metropolis) is our next planned stop. You can pan for gold in the park adjacent to the “city.” On an earlier trip, one of the boys did actually get some gold by panning.

In 2018, Austin (right) actually got some gold flakes when he was panning in South Pass City, Wyoming. Merry, a granddaughter, did not get any gold flakes.

The next stop on our way back east will be near Split Rock (also called Rifle Gap) in Wyoming. This was a landmark along the Oregon Trail. There is a huge granite boulder that you can climb on and we plan to do just that. It looks just like the old boulders cowboys used to shoot it out on in the old westerns.

There is a nice railroad museum in Douglas, Wyoming. It is small, but has an old dining car you can enter and sit down. There is a huge articulated steam locomotive there and several other rail cars.

The articulated steam locomotive at the Douglas, Wyoming museum is huge! I’m standing back by the cab (white arrow).

The size of the locomotive is mind boggling!

As we head back east, we will stop by Guernsey, Wyoming to see huge ruts that wagons headed west on the Oregon Trail wore into a rocky area.

The crew on our 2018 trip west standing in a huge rut worn by wagons headed west on the Oregon Trail. Left to right: Jessy, Mandy, Bo, Charlotte, Kandy, Merry and Austin. Behind the camera: me.

From there, we will plan to stop at Ft. Laramie State Park. This is another restored western fort that is now a national park. There are a number of restored buildings there. Sometimes, they fire a cannon (loaded with peat moss, not a cannon ball).

Just after we cross back into Nebraska, we will stop by Rebecca Burdick Winter’s grave. She died on the Oregon Trail as she and her family were headed to Utah. She was one of hundreds (probably thousands) of pioneers who died on the trip west. Her identity is known because a family friend stayed up all night the day she died to chisel her name into a steel wagon rim. When the transcontinental railroad tracks were being laid, the surveyors ran across her grave site. They rerouted the tracks to miss it. Later, her remains were moved to nearby Scotts Bluff. Rebecca Burdick Winters was the grandchildren’s 1st cousin, 8 times removed.

This is Rebecca Burdick Winter’s grave site in 2012. You can see the steel wagon rim (with her name carved on it) in front of the headstone. Jessy is looking at the site. Abbey is reading signs in the background.

Fort Robinson, a cavalry fort, now a state park in northeast Nebraska, will be another stop. The park has a real stage coach ride ($2 each last time we were there) that is fun for the grands. They also have trail rides and a hayride cookout.

Mandy got to ride on the top of the stage at Ft. Robinson.

As we continue our way back east, we will visit Chimney Rock, the most referenced landmark on the Oregon Trail by pioneers headed west. We plan to stop at an old (relocated) Pony Express station in Gothenburg, Nebraska and then the Heartland Military Museum. The military museum stop will be a first for Kandy and me.

Two other major attractions remain: the Strategic Air Command museum near Omaha. When I was about six years old, we lived just outside Offutt Air Force Base, the original location of the museum. My Daddy was a civilian tech representative for the old Philco Company. (He was in the Navy during World War II).

The last major stop will be at the Pony Express stables in St. Joseph, Missouri. This was the eastern end of the Pony Express route. From there, we will head back to the Knoxville area to drop off the boys and then head home.
After 18 days and about 6,000 miles, a little over 100 hours driving and 30 hours site seeing, if all goes according to plan, we will be home.

Hurricane Season Begins….

­Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 although we have had storms out of season. Typically, most storms hit the end of August and first part of September.

The good news is there does not seem to be a significant increase in the number or severity of hurricanes. There are “good” years and “bad” years. The media is predicting a very busy season in 2024, but as I recall, the same prediction was made in 2023, 2022 and seemingly every previous year.

This chart plots the number of hurricanes from the Atlantic between 1851 and 2015. Notice there is a slight increase (from about 4 ½ per year to about 6 per year over a 160 year period). This assumes, of course that all hurricanes in the 1800s were accurately documented.

If you look at the number of hurricanes by decade from 1851 to 2020, according to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), the number has actually been declining.

According to NOAA on a decade by decade basis since 1851, the number of hurricanes has been slowly falling.

How about the number of deaths related to extreme temperature? This is global, not just American, deaths and it has declined about 98% since 1920. That’s good news.

This is worldwide, not just America. It includes hurricanes and other extreme weather. Between 2000 and 2008, it was 5 people per million. Between 1920 and 1929, it was 241 people per million.

So if the number of storms is not increasing significantly, the intensity is not significantly increasing and the number of deaths is dramatically down, why the hype about “Hurricanes are becoming more dangerous” (CNN), for example?

Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s Chief of Staff, was quoted saying “Never let a crisis go to waste.” The unsaid, but obvious addendum to that seems to be “If there is not a crisis, make up one.” The sky is not falling no matter what Chicken Little says. Do you remember the Y2K “crisis”?

If I were pushing electric vehicles, “green” energy, cutting fossil fuels, raising taxes, etc. I might consider “climate change” as a tool to motivate people. If there is no real crisis, you might think my push to green anything was a lot of hype. A “crisis,” even a made up one, we must have.

Hurricanes are dangerous – they always have been. Major ones cause major damage – they always have. There seems to be no trend of storms increasing in frequency or intensity if you look at the official NOAA (Official government) numbers. Some years are worse than others. What steps can you take to protect your possessions and life?

If you are home, and a named storm is forecast to hit nearby, make sure all loose items (yard chairs, umbrellas, lightweight grills, etc.) are safely stored inside a garage or shelter. If you have storm shutters install or close them. Make sure your trees are trimmed and any dead limbs are removed each spring. Usually there is more damage in our area from blowing debris and falling trees and limbs than from wind damage to homes. With hurricanes comes a lot of rain. It saturates the ground and wind can topple trees.

Personally, if a major storm approached, I would secure my home and leave. Storm paths are not accurately predictable. Storm surges can be really high in major storms. Roads and bridges can be made impassable (blocked by downed trees, washed out, littered with debris, etc.). When a hurricane is bearing down on you, it is not the time to be macho or partying. It is the time to be gone.

This is the Simpson Saffir scale which defines hurricane intensity. Major storms are usually considered to be Category 3 and up.

Don’t take the threat of hurricanes lightly. Be prepared.

Call or text (843 846 2500), or email (info@willissinclair.com) if you have any questions or comments. We can help.

No cost or obligation for you, of course.

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