Hyping a Hurricane Nothingburger

I'm here in San Diego, ground zero for the "historic," "epic," "dangerous," "life-threatening" Hurricane Hilary blowing up from Baja, which was slated to hit Southern California hardest over the weekend — proof that climate change is real.

What did we get?

This shouldn't be surprising.  The warnings contradicted all knowledge we have about hurricanes.  Hurricane Hilary, which formed off Baja, was a Category 2, which is generally puny to start with.  It slid down to Category 1 in a matter of hours.  Then, even more quickly, it became a tropical storm, breaking up pretty quickly.  Then it shifted course, taking aim at the desert instead of the cities, with the more dangerous wind side aimed at the more desolate areas.  And with ice cold water on our beaches coming down from Alaska, a lot of us knew that hurricanes don't have much of a chance here, because they can't thrive without warm water.  We've seen big hurricanes on the news before, great big Category 4s and 5s on the Gulf Coast.  It didn't take a rocket scientist to know that this was not going to be anything like one of those.

But public officials and the press sure treated it as one.  Gov. Gavin Newsom flew down here to be at the command center.  Officials handed out sandbags and load-'em-yourself sand piles.  News reports showed shopkeepers boarding up windows and consumers raiding stores for supplies.  Officials unleashed the emergency broadcasting mass warning system messages on Saturday night, commanding us to stay off roads and get away from downed power lines.  They dispatched helicopters with loudspeakers warning the homeless not to sleep in dry riverbeds.  The Navy moved its ships out to sea.  The residents of the Channel Islands were ordered to evacuate.  News accounts urged everyone to charge their cell phones, battery up their flashlights, gas up their cars, stock up their pantries, board their windows. 

Yes, we did those many things, anticipating blackouts.  Plenty of us secretly liked this tropical storm, pulling our cars out of our garages for a free rain bath and staking our dahlia and tomato plants and setting up our rain barrels, as we knew it would get dry as dust pretty quickly afterward.

But nobody was actually calling for the big one, which was mass evacuations the way they do in the Gulf states, which was something of a tell.

In their defense, maybe some people needed these kinds of warnings, given the local unfamiliarity with things like rain, which always prompts a lot of auto accidents on highways, as many drivers don't understand that when rain comes, the roads are going to be loaded with oil from car exhaust and other emissions, as well as puddles and slicks and visibility issues so there is a need to slow down.  That's always been an issue.  Vagrants and illegals sleeping on riverbeds has always led to casualties in every winter rainstorm, too, so warning them off was probably useful.  And some desert areas did see stronger effects from the storm than us coastals, though there have been no reported deaths or destruction.

But it seems there was a lot of overkill here, and while overkill is nowhere near as bad as the failures to warn that we saw in Maui, it is a sign that maybe we've got a government that's a little too big and fond of jerking the population around and is looking for ways to make itself useful.

And there's an inherent risk with it, too, as Mickey Kaus notes:

Yeah, it's a credibility-killer.  What happens when there's a real hurricane and nobody believes the warnings?  In the past, they have done an excellent job evacuating mass numbers of people during wildfires, so it's disheartening to see them fall down on the job now.  Yes, hurricanes are hard to predict, but they need to refine and polish this part of the game so they don't overcall things, particularly when people can put two and two together based on other info.

What's more, this is starting to emerge as a pattern.  Aren't these governmentos the same people who warned us of all the dangers of COVID and the need for lockdowns?  A recent study showed that that kind of overreaction did more harm than good.

Might this overkill be some kind of dress rehearsal for what really excites them, which is global warming and the scattered calls for climate lockdowns?  I suspect this may be the case.  They're always up to no good here, and maybe they didn't care that they were overcalling it on the hurricane watch.  They just wanted to try out the machinery so they could do bigger things on climate.

In any case, no major foul being over-prepared and over-calling it; much better that than under-calling it, as happened in Hawaii.  But these guys seemed awfully exuberant in their hype of what ended up a largely minor rainstorm.  That needs to be watched.

Image: Twitter screen shot.

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