It’s that Time Again


May is perhaps the best month in Paradise. We have shaken the cold from our limbs and begun to settle in for another long, humid, and hot summer. But the humidity and high temperatures are momentarily at bay in May. The Spring Breakers have returned to their frigid homes in order to complete yet another academic year. The beach, restaurants, and amenities are left to us in this brief Respite. Summer will arrive soon enough and the tourism that drives our economy will again clog our transportation arteries and more.

More important, May marks the end of the best Florida season, the Respite Season ©2023. Each year, we enjoy the Respite (Respite begins December 1 and runs through May 31. It is a glorious six months in which we celebrate all that is good in the world. That is not to claim that we never have troubling weather during Respite, we do. It is not to claim we never have a hurricane in Respite, we do. But, they are exceedingly uncommon, typically inconsequential, and quickly forgotten.

Wikipedia, or someone claiming to be Wikipedia, says that 97 such storms have occurred in the "off-season." That is a backhanded reference to the opposite of hurricane season, June 1 through November 30. Someone at Wikipedia will likely lift my term, "Respite," eventually. Unfortunately, I will likely never know who. So, an admission at the start that hurricanes are less than predictable. Who knew?

Yes, who knew. That reminded me of P!nk and her hit by the same name (LaFace 2006). In it, she advises

"When someone said count your blessings now

'Fore they're long gone

I guess I just didn't know how

I was all wrong"

Yes, count your blessings now. It is glorious May and Respite 2022-23 draws to a close. We stride confidently towards the tough six months in Florida when there is a persistent potential for wind, rain, and damage that are endemic to hurricane season. We are often hopeful, blessed, and relieved. But we are sometimes hit. And those hits are incredibly disruptive, destructive, and depressing. I have lived through my share and watched for news from Waffle House

Hurricane season is nothing to ignore. No, it will not go away. No, you cannot will it away. No, it will not hurt you to acknowledge its ugly presence and prepare. The Weather Channel recently published 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook: A Developing El Niño Vs. Warm Atlantic Ocean. It is a deep dive into water temperatures, currents, and other science. It is an intriguing read.

But in essence, it describes how predictors of hurricanes are less confident than usual this year. They are troubled by climate issues that are in flux as we see El Nino on the horizon and perhaps it is a harbinger of good news. The El Nino is seen as a hindrance to major storms. This is juxtaposed with the unexpected warmth of the Atlantic, and to some extent, the prognosticators have slipped into Jeff Spicoli territory ("I don't know," Fast Times (Universal 1982).

That said, the Weather Company's prediction this year is for

"15 named storms, seven of which will become hurricanes and three of which will reach Category 3 status or stronger."

The folks at Colorado State University

"forecast 13 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes."

It seems odd that Colorado State is predicting. That seems about as logical as letting Vincent LaGuardia Gambini judge the grit-cooking contest in Beechum County, Alabama ("Sure, I've heard of grits. I just never actually seen a grit before,” My Cousin Vinny, 20th Century, 1992). I tried to find the last time a hurricane struck Colorado, but Google failed me like a ChatBot.

That said, I admit to liking the Colorado State numbers better.

So, it ain't a pleasant outlook necessarily, but we have seen worse. Perhaps this will be a calm season for the U.S. and Florida specifically. Goodness knows we could use a bit of quiet. While some characterize the 2022 season as "relatively mild," it will be remembered for Fiona and Ian. Don't try to tell Floridians any tall tales of "mild" 2022. 

That Ian worried far more than it hurt, and it hurt plenty. Ian was amazingly strong and devastated many lives. Some in southwest Florida continue to recover even still. Ian was the third costliest hurricane in history.

Speaking of continuing impact, Michael hit Panama City in 2018. I am astounded to reflect back on its impact five years ago. Panama City has thrived in some respects since then. However, evidence remains of Michael's anger and temper. Michael was petulant, persistent, and destructive. While he did not make the list of the most costly, he was horrible. Amazingly, Michael was still destructive when he was 65 miles inland and stormed into Georgia. That is pretty rare, and terrible to watch. 

And those two storms are reminders of the only really important points in this post. First, as noted in the Weather Channel article:

  • "A season with fewer storms or hurricanes can still deliver the one storm that makes a season destructive or devastating."
  • "it doesn't take a hurricane to be impactful, especially regarding rainfall flooding."
  • "the time to be ready for hurricanes is now."

It takes one. Sure, preparation may be time you could spend elsewhere. Certainly, no one likes to focus on the negative. And no one hates the thought of hurricanes worse than I do. But, you heard it here first, you either be prepared or need repaired (you pick). 

The end of Respite 2022-23 draws near. I look forward to welcoming the next season with you on November 30, 2023. In the meantime, check your plans (personal and business), get your supplies, and be ready in the event some misanthropic menace may be coming soon to a neighborhood near you. Get prepared, stay alert, and we'll see you on the other side.

By Judge David Langham

Courtesy of Florida Workers' Comp

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    About The Author

    • Judge David Langham

      David Langham is the Deputy Chief Judge of Compensation Claims for the Florida Office of Judges of Compensation Claims at the Division of Administrative Hearings. He has been involved in workers’ compensation for over 25 years as an attorney, an adjudicator, and administrator. He has delivered hundreds of professional lectures, published numerous articles on workers’ compensation in a variety of publications, and is a frequent blogger on Florida Workers’ Compensation Adjudication. David is a founding director of the National Association of Workers’ Compensation Judiciary and the Professional Mediation Institute, and is involved in the Southern Association of Workers’ Compensation Administrators (SAWCA) and the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC). He is a vocal advocate of leveraging technology and modernizing the dispute resolution processes of workers’ compensation.

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