Hurricane Hype and Media Madness

Earl's Clouds
Earl's Clouds

My wife and I live on the Southern Outer Banks of North Carolina.

We just got to experience not only Hurricane Earl but also the media coverage of Earl and lots of concern that was spawned by the media coverage.

We were witness to the full hype well before Earl and his thirty mile per hour winds and 3/4 of an inch of rain showed up.  We had far more than 3/4 of an inch of hype.

I know hurricanes including Earl are dangerous.  Earl went on to knock the power out for a couple of hundred thousand people in Nova Scotia.  Also at least one person died up there because of Earl.

We did get several calls from friends not living in the area.  Most were worried for our safety. One was worried about the roof of our house blowing off and was adamant that we needed to leave as soon as possible.  We really appreciated people worrying about us even if we had few concerns.

All of the worrying I suspect is a result of people paying too much attention to the thrill a minute media and not enough attention to the real resources that are available in most situations.

I am an admitted weather junkie. I spend a fair amount of time on Weather Underground and during, the tropical storm season, I closely watch the tracking of storms.  You can see some of the tracks in this archive.

When we moved to the Crystal Coast, we came with the heritage of being born in North Carolina and spending the first twenty plus years of our lives in North Carolina.  The last twenty years we have lived in the mountains of Southwest Virginia.  Our home actually overlooks the city of Roanoke.  We are located at about 1,600 ft on the side of Twelve O’Clock Knob Mountain.

We have seen plenty of destruction and flooding from hurricanes in the mountains.  Hurricane Floyd deposited a large tree on our screened porch just before we were set to take possession of our home in 1989.  We were stunned to see our home on the evening news from the apartment where we were living.

With that kind of background, we made the decision to not live directly on the beach.  We do live on the water, but we are located approximately three miles up the White Oak River from Swansboro which sits on the Intracoastal Waterway behind Bear Island and other pieces of the Southern Outer Banks. The net of all that is there is some serious barrier island protection between us and any hurricane unless it comes right up the White Oak River.

Our home is off an inlet of the White River.  We are located on what is called Raymond’s Gut.  We are actually in a very sheltered spot.  I have seen some of the local fishermen bring their larger boats up the river and anchor them in our inlet when bad storms are on the horizon.  We are in a flood plain, but our home is built so that the only part of the home that would get wet in a 100 year flood is garage floor and the crawlspace.  Both have plenty of flood vents.

At no time during my intense watching of Earl did any of the models predict a turn towards us or even a wobble in our direction.  Of course hurricanes are unpredictable to a certain extent so we did prepare by removing a couple of light weight glass tables from our porches.  We also put our skiff on storm footing which means I raised the lift and secured both the bow and stern to the bulkhead.

With all of that done well ahead of Earl’s pass by the Southern Outer Banks, we amused ourselves the afternoon before Earl was set to arrive by going to watch the surfers over by Bogue Inlet Pier on Emerald Isle.  While the waves were impressive, we have seen bigger ones.  A friend and I actually went fishing in Bogue Inlet that morning.  We are careful boaters so we were not tempting fate as you can see from the pictures.

The afternoon before Earl was to arrive in the evening, I went and bought 75 lbs of ice and stored it in a cooler.  We had plenty of water and food on hand from our normal two to three visits to the grocery store weekly routine.  After getting the ice, I took the opportunity to sneak over to Emerald Isle for one last peak at the waves.

I got to see some less successful surfing and a few bigger waves with winds cutting off their tops.  I also got to see the closing of the bridge after the mandatory evacuation of Bogue Banks including Emerald Isle.

That evening we watched the weather and computers for any changes.  I checked outside at the dock a couple of time to see if we were getting a surge.  With none apparent and winds under 30 miles per hour, and almost no rain, we went to bed shortly after 11 PM.  I got up the next morning early enough to see a healthy high tide but nothing more.

During the evening I had done both a Facebook post and a Twitter Tweet indicating that all seemed well on the Crystal Coast.

Still the next day we got a lot of calls from folks worried about whether or not we had survived the storm.

I sent a couple of folks a link to the Raleigh New & Observer article on Earl, and I published my own article on surviving Earl.

The question that is begging to be answered is why people were so worried about us when the only evidence of any danger was a Weather Channel Reporter standing in the surf a long way from our location?

I can only explain it by saying that unfortunately it is easier to believe what the Weather Channel dishes up than it is to actually find out what is happening.

Sometimes I guess, all it takes is a little spark for the imagination, and those prone to worrying can let their minds get carried away even when there is plenty of evidence that things are fine.

At the time everyone was worrying about us, I was actually concerned about friends in Nova Scotia which did appear to be the bull’s eye for Earl.  In the end, Earl did hammer Nova Scotia and lots of people lost their power.  Our friends were among the lucky ones who did not lose their power.

In these situations people seem very willing to make up their minds based on their perceptions rather than some serious fact checking.  I see it all the time in our online world, and it is not just related to hurricanes and the Weather Channel.   Someone jumps to an unfounded conclusion because of either sloppy thinking or no thinking at all.

Yesterday I had someone say to me on an online forum  “it is still a fact that you do get clients by writing on this forum.”  That statement turns out to be a jump to a conclusion that has no basis in fact. I have been writing on that particular forum for 3.5 years, and I have yet to get a client from the forum.  Obviously I either am having trouble figuring that out, or I do not write to get clients.  Of course the latter statement is the real truth.  I write there because I like to write, and I want to make certain our area is accurately represented.

While several people who found out about me and my real estate service on the forum have visited our area and taken advantage of my real estate hospitality, none have ever turned out to a real client and bought something.  I have had clients who found me via my other blogs and then noticed me on the forum, but none have ever done it the other way around.

It has reached the point that I have a hard time taking anyone seriously who comes to me by way of the forum.  It seems that the people who really want homes get in a car and go visit them and don’t spend a lot of time on online forums.  Either that or they write me and email or pick up the phone and call me.

It seems we have a problem with people not using their minds to analyze situations properly.

I think critical thinking is an important element in the foundations of our society.   Based on the recent Hurricane Hype and observed tendencies of many folks to not want to be confused by the facts, I am not sure critical thinking is alive and doing well in our Republic.

With media hype twenty four hours a day, critical thinking is something we need more and more.  I hope we see a rebirth soon.

Author: ocracokewaves

An escapee from the world of selling technology, now living on North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks where life revolves around sun, sand, and water. I work at WideOpen Networks helping communities get fiber to their homes. In my spare time I am a photographer, writer, boater, fisherman, kayaker, swimmer, and walker of the beaches.

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