Not overblown

Superstorm Sandy left valuable lessons in its wake

Two unforgettable lessons can be pulled from the debris of Superstorm Sandy.

First: We are not in charge.

This planet, while remarkably hospitable for hurtling and spinning us through space, has a nasty habit of quaking, blowing or spitting on what mankind has built with enough force to destroy it in minutes.

Hubris is always the first casualty of nature.

Second: We are blessed today with unbelievably prescient forecasting techniques that simply dumbfounds us non-meteorologically inclined masses. We need to heed them.

A tip of the cap to our weather forecasters. They get a lot of grief when they’re off even a smidgen. We seem to expect forecasters today to tell us what inning of the baseball game it will rain on. And maybe what the score will be at the time.

The truth is, they get it right an incredible amount of the time. And in the case of Sandy, they pretty much nailed it. They knew the storm would take a sharp left into the Northeastern United States, and fairly close to when.

It is a blessed quirk of nature that hurricanes, one of its most destructive forces, have now become one of the most predictable as well. The accuracy goes down the further out the forecast goes, but in most cases we have days to prepare for a major hurricane.

But, of course, the most pinpoint warnings are worthless if they go unheeded.

Every time a Sandy approaches, there are people who choose to either not believe the warnings or overestimate humankind’s ability to stand up to the most violent elements. And every time, people die. Or those in emergency services have to risk their lives rescuing the stragglers and squatters.

We’ve just seen one of the worst storms in U.S. history hit one of the most populated areas of the country – an estimated $50 billion in damage and lost business, though that may be conservative. We can’t stop such things from happening. But we can get out of the way to the extent possible when warned well ahead of time.

Let this catastrophic event be a lesson to us.

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