Much of the discussion this week of the bad weather heading Louisiana’s way involved just when the storm would get an official name.
It’s ultimately a minor point, since even unnamed storms can do massive damage. Just ask the people of New Orleans still reeling from a massive thunderstorm on Wednesday that flooded streets, homes and businesses. Meanwhile, in Baton Rouge this week, residents learned that a similar rainstorm and flash flood event on June 6 doesn’t qualify for federal disaster relief. That torrent evoked memories of the 2016 flooding, a disaster that also resulted from an unnamed storm system.
There are a few reasons we name some big storms, but ultimately, we’re answering a basic assumption that if we can name something, we can understand it better. If we can personify wind and water by thinking of it as an angry woman or man — Katrina, Rita, Gustav — then maybe we’ll be in a better position to fight it.
Or so the theory goes. Even in the best of circumstances, there’s much about bad weather we still don’t know, as this week’s events have reminded us. We’ve become conditioned by impressive advances in meteorology to assume that we can anticipate precisely what weather can do on any given day.
But the shifting tracks of the tropical system now in the Gulf — and the surprising flash flooding along iconic New Orleans streets on Wednesday — were a humbling demonstration of what we often don’t know.
For now, it’s enough to know that a big storm will visit Louisiana this weekend, and that we’re wise to prepare for the worst.
Hurricane season is an annual gut check for those of us who live in Louisiana. The trials of tropical weather can make us wonder if life might perhaps be easier somewhere else.
But the state was first settled by hardheads — resolute pioneers who put up with the mosquitoes, heat and whims of the weather because they saw the promise beyond the peril.
A stubborn streak continues to run in Louisiana’s DNA, and that resolve will get us through whatever this weekend’s weather brings.
Stay safe, folks, and stay tough.