So for the second time in less than a month, I have my eye on my homeland of South Florida (while I sit comfy in northwestern Chicago), wondering if a new monster or a storm will strike. Frances continues toward the peninsula — yes, that strange land of 99% humidity and bat-sized mosquitoes — thanks to a high-pressure system hovering over the southern Atlantic. For those of you that didn't grow up learning about projected paths of hurricanes, it's an important meteorological behavior to note: most of the time a high-pressure system will ease its way down over the Florida mainland, keeping massive tropical buzzsaws such as Floyd (killer satellite imagery — yes, that thing turned) away from the by-then-frenzied inhabitants. But this time Frances has a clear shot — the third-base coach is waving her home as a high-pressure system hovers over the southern Atlantic, pushing Frances down along a westerly course.
Of course, these things still turn . . . but at other times, they don't. My family lives in West Palm Beach (the eastern coast for those who have no idea), and my storm-maven father is monitoring this one closely. Even if it strikes, depending on how compact it is, a distance of 50 miles could be the difference between having matchsticks for a house and waking up to a few extra palm fronds in your front yard. Such was the case in 1992 with Andrew, which obliterated Homestead but left our neighborhood in Lake Worth relatively unscathed.