Irene is one of those semi-popular names in the US, 16th most popular among girls’ names at its peak in 1918 and 1919, 684th in 2010.
Irene has also been designated as a possible hurricane name by the World Meteorological Organization. “The Atlantic is assigned six lists of names, with one list used each year. Every sixth year, the first list begins again.” Things before 1978 weren’t quite so neat and tidy, so Irene was eligible to be a hurricane name in 1959, 1963, 1967, and 1971. While Irene was unused in 1987 and in 1993, there were actually hurricanes named Irene in 1981, in 1999, and in 2005.
2011’s Hurricane Irene caused great damage, as you have probably heard. Albany County was among several in upstate New York designated as disaster areas. Our property only lost some tree limbs. But the storm was life-complicating.
As I’ve noted, my wife and daughter traveled down to Charlotte, NC August 24 to visit my sister and niece. One track of Irene would have come quite close to Charlotte, but the storm stayed on the coast, fortunately. Unfortunately, it traveled up the coast, and while it largely spared New York City, it walloped parts of New Jersey, Vermont, and upstate New York.
The problem was that the family was supposed to take the train back from Charlotte to Albany on August 31, but the trip was canceled by Amtrak, likely because of possible damage, or fear of same, to the tracks in New Jersey and elsewhere.
They couldn’t drive back because of washed-out roads. So they got a flight. Or three:
From Charlotte Douglas Intl Airport (CLT)
Departs: 08/31/2011 at 11:40 A.M. To
Baltimore/Washington Intl Thurgood Marshall Apt (BWI)
Arrives: 08/31/2011 at 1:09 P.M.
Departs: 08/31/2011 at 4:37 P.M. To
Philadelphia Intl Airport (PHL)
Arrives: 08/31/2011 at 5:26 P.M.
Departs: 08/31/2011 at 9:10 P.M. To
Albany Intl Airport (ALB)
Arrives: 08/31/2011 at 10:31 P.M.
Yes, that’s 3 hours, 39 minutes of flying time over an 11-hour stretch. That is what you’re left with – let’s not even talk about the cost – when one books a flight the day before.
Of course, many people had it a WHOLE lot worse! For a mild for instance, my brother-in-law Dan and his family, about an hour south of us in Greene County, NY, lost a bunch of stuff in the basement. Getting around was difficult because the roads were either flooded or washed out altogether; the schools started a week late, as much because of the impassable roads as the damage to the buildings. Those of you who know upstate geography will appreciate this: the fastest way currently to get from Catskill to Oneonta is going through Albany.
I feel a little testy about the notion that NYC overprepared; it was a hurricane, FCOL!
And there will be more storms that travel further north, because of the warmer Atlantic waters.
I wonder if Irene’s name will be retired. “The only time that there is a change is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for obvious reasons of sensitivity. If that occurs, then at an annual meeting by the WMO…the offending name is stricken from the list and another name is selected to replace it.”
(And I won’t even get into the subsequent destruction of Tropical Storm Lee, which did damage from the Gulf Coast to upstate New York this past week, as this video from Binghamton, NY, my hometown, will attest.)