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From the Boathouse: Beware hurricane-force conditions on West Coast

May 30, 2013|By Mike Whitehead

Ahoy, and welcome to a preseason hurricane!

Good friend, airline captain and fellow Lake Arrowhead Yacht Club member Jeff Diercksmeier begins his article in the yacht club's newsletter with "from the flight deck."

Very appropriate, since I am sure he writes his article at 30,000 feet while on autopilot, but I will not tell the FAA. However, Diercksmeier can share in the importance that hurricane season starts Saturday, because the season's storms will affect his navigational plans in the air as well as my navigational plans on the water.

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However, Mother Nature did not look at the calendar, because we had the first hurricane of the season, or preseason, on Wednesday. Tropical Storm Barbara developed into a hurricane with wind speeds up to 75 mph.

Barbara is moving toward southern Mexico, and rains have caused flooding in the small towns. This hurricane will lose strength when it hits the coast, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's predicted path shows the storm may pop out in the Gulf of Mexico.

I am noticing that many familiar yachts have returned from their wintertime playgrounds in Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and other foreign harbors to our south. Luckily, these boats are home just in time to miss the preseason hurricane.

Insurance companies mark the beginning and the end of the hurricane season, and vessels remaining in a hurricane zone during the season may push up the boats' insurance rates. However, boat owners are usually worried about potential damage to their yachts.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released this year's hurricane predication. I purposely spelled out NOAA because recently I asked boaters on the dock, "What does NOAA abbreviate?" Almost everyone's answer was incorrect, and I was surprised. So next week I am thinking about asking people, "What do the letters in NASA reference?"

I digress.

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center is predicting an active or extremely active season in the Atlantic. Remember, most hurricanes form in the Atlantic and travel across the ocean to the Eastern Seaboard, through the Gulf of Mexico and over land into the Pacific. Furthermore, the tropical cyclones are low-pressure systems that spin counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere.

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