Life in Hurricane Alley


Miguel led tonight’s meeting with a theme titled “Life in Hurricane Alley.” Miguel talked about his personal experiences with tropical storms and hurricanes, having spent much of his life in Houston, Texas. He introduced the meeting with the question, “What is the most extreme weather you’ve ever experienced?” Answers ranged from snowstorms to extreme humidity to hurricanes and tornadoes. 

Miguel talked about how hurricanes are a type of tropical cyclone and how there is a low-pressure center in the middle of a hurricane. They are the most powerful organized weather system on Earth. Miguel showed visuals of the anatomy of a tropical cyclone, and the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, which rates a hurricane’s strength from 1-5. He discussed the prediction and modeling of hurricanes, noting that hurricane prediction has vastly improved over the last 40 years. He gave a visual example of Hurricane Laura’s predicted path vs. actual track, and noted that scientists are working on predicting hurricane intensity more accurately. 

Miguel spoke of a couple of personal experiences with tropical storms and hurricanes in Houston, one being Tropical Storm Alison in the summer of 2001. During a week of torrential rains, there was 37 inches of rain in one week. For comparison, Seattle may get 37 inches of rain in one year. Miguel also talked about Hurricane Ike, which occurred in 2009 in Houston when he was in college. A category 2 storm, students were told to stay in dorms and stay away from windows. There were horizontal streaks around window seals and massive power outages. The morning after the storm there was no running water and the electricity was out for about a week. It was during this storm that all the windows of the JP Morgan Chase building were blown out. 

While there was no speaker for the evening, the group listened to a video presentation of the second-place winner of the 2017 World Championship of Public Speaking, Simon Bucknall. Simon Bucknall gave a speech titled “What James Bullock Taught Me.” Bucknall went to school with James Bullock and was afraid of him, until one day he punched him in the nose. From then on the relationship changed into one of mutual understanding and a growing friendship. While Bucknall was afraid his parents were separating, Bullock could relate because his parents actually did separate. The group gave a round-robin evaluation of the speech, noting things like his pastoral and theatrical presence, his pauses for effect, his use of simile and metaphor, and the message he was trying to convey. 

Bill was our Table Topics Master with questions related to school and best friends: Who is your best friend whom you met at school?; What was your first impression of a best friend from school?; What is the worst trouble you got into at school; and, Who was the most difficult teacher you had? Jamie led our debate with a weather-related topic. Team A argued that hurricanes are a better event to deal with, while Team B argued that it is better to have to deal with earthquakes. The debate ended in a tie. 

Our word of the day was operose, meaning laborious, industrious or painstaking. 

We had 11 attendees, including three guests. Thank you all for joining in!