From the Editor
by Margaret Benner
Every few years it seems like the United States experiences an especially intense Atlantic hurricane season that brings at least a couple of destructive storms. In 2005, it was twin hurricanes Katrina and Rita that made global headlines as major U.S. cities such as New Orleans and Houston suffered devastating losses.
The 2008 season has also had its share of drama, and the season is not over yet. Fay made multiple trips across Florida in August, inundating communities throughout the state. In September Hurricane Ike, the largest Atlantic hurricane in recorded history, caused $27 billion in damages, according to early estimates, and wreaked havoc from Texas north through the Midwest.
Between these two storms was Hurricane Gustav which experts at the National Hurricane Center predicted would make landfall as a Category 3 hurricane in Louisiana on the first day of September. Communities up and down the Louisiana coast, still recovering from Katrina and Rita, braced for what New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin called “the storm of the century.” Weatherwise Contributing Editor Steve Horstmeyer, chief meteorologist at WXIX-TV in Cincinnati, was in Louisiana to cover the storm. In “Hunting Gustav: A Broadcast Meteorologist’s Diary,” Horstmeyer gives readers an inside look at what it’s like to report on a major hurricane—from long, tense waits for landfall to lashing rains and winds that can blow a van off the road. If you’ve ever wondered what is going through a meteorologist’s head as he broadcasts from a storm-ravaged community, Steve Horstmeyer can tell you. And while Gustav ultimately did not become the devastating hurricane some feared and was later overshadowed by Ike, its impact along the Louisiana coast was still impressive.
As demonstrated by Fay, Florida gets its fair share of hurricanes, and the state has a long and dramatic history of tropical storm activity. In “Florida’s Climate and Weather,” the first of a series on the weather and climate of the 50 states, Mike Mogil examines the varied meteorology of this southernmost state.
Meanwhile, the closing stages of the hurricane season generally herald the arrival of cooler weather and brilliant fall colors in the United States. In “Fall’s Festival of Colors,” Weatherwise Executive Editor Stanley Gedzelman celebrates this beautiful time of year with a look at the meteorological factors that contribute to fall foliage. As the weather gets cooler here in Washington, D.C., I can only hope that the fall colors are just as spectacular as they are in the photos in this article.
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