A Little Hurricane Humor


No, hurricanes aren’t a laughing matter, but in truth, humor helps. One of the classics that’s been passed around meteorological circles for years is this cartoon by Gary Larson, creator of The Far Side. Flying into the eye of a hurricane’s no joke, but even those intrepid hurricane hunters laugh at this one.

If you’ve never watched a Hurricane Hunters video, this one, provided by the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, offers a nice overview of their work.


Comments always are welcome.

55 thoughts on “A Little Hurricane Humor

    1. I’m riding this one out. Wind is going to be the issue here, rather than surge. The NWS office just put out a graphic showing 6′ of surge on Bolivar, and 3′ +/- on Galveston Island. I’ve not seen any projections for Kemah/Seabrook yet, but I suspect it will be around 3′-4′. We didn’t take any water in Ike or Harvey at my place, so I’m going to take the old advice to “run from water, hide from wind.”

  1. Love the Gary Larson cartoon. I’ve always found that the people who deal with difficult situations the best are the ones who can step back and laugh about them when they aren’t in the heat of battle. Hurricane hunters are certainly in that club.

    1. That they are. Did you know that Jeff Masters, who started Weather Underground, flew with the Hurricane Hunters at one time? They’re interesting people. Every now and then they bring one of the planes to Ellington Field and give tours; they’re fascinating to see.

      1. I did not know that about Masters. It’s been a long time since I was at Ellington, but I’ve enjoyed the tours I’ve been on. It looks like they keep moving landfall to the west and closer to you, so take care.

    1. I appreciate your hopes on our behalf, but we’re sitting almost on the track line. It looks like a Category 3 storm will come over the top of us, although there’s always the chance for a little wobble in the track or variation in the strength. I’m not looking forward to the power outage — I do love my air conditioning — but with luck it won’t last long. Everyone’s just glad that Marco fizzled, so we only have one storm to deal with.

  2. Have to admire those Hurricane Hunters, don’t we, Linda? That’s not a job I’d want to have, but I can appreciate how important it is that *somebody* do it! Stay hunkered down on this one; it looks pretty wicked. And we know even a Cat 3 can bring tons of devastation.

    1. One of the things that always has impressed me is how they work as a team: pilots, weather specialists, and so on. I’ve heard just enough stories to know I’d love to hear the ones they tell when the public’s not lurking around!

      “Hunkered down” is the right phrase. If this thing nudges a bit west, it’s going to run right up the Gulf Freeway, and I’ll get to experience the full force of it. I don’t wish anyone ill, but a little east — like the Texas/Louisiana line — would be fine by me.

    1. Shoot, Jeanie. Go through enough hurricanes and you’d get used to them. As much as I miss Dixie Rose and my mom, I’m certainly glad that I’m not having to evacuate with them again. It’s been fifteen years, and I still remember the evacuation for Rita like it was last week. I can recall every detail of that journey — fourteen hours to go a distance that usually takes three and a half. Good grief. But, we survived. That’s what counts.

  3. I am really happy not to live in the path of these devastating storms. We sometimes get a wet few days after a hurricane but rarely does it amount to more than that. Stay safe down there and maintain your sense of humour!

    1. There were a lot of Texans hoping that either Marco or Laura would provide some rain after landfall, but they’re not going to cooperate. I hope Arkansas can use the rain! Thanks for the good wishes — I’ve moved some of my big plants into a somewhat protected corner next to my bird feeders, just in case some of my little friends want to take shelter there.

  4. Worked a summer for the National Severe Storms Lab in Norman, OK, but we were more interested in the lightning than the winds. The most we ever did was get in front of super cell and release weather balloons. So there are many storm chasers that reside around here and some have pay with their lives for their life’s passion. Stay dry and safe.

    1. It’s neat that you got to work at the Norman lab. I read about it from time to time, especially during tornado outbreaks. Occasionally I’ll see a video of some students’ balloon release gone wrong; they can be pretty entertaining.

      As for the chasers, the increase in the number who are more interested in the thrill than in the science has created some problems. After Tim Samaras’s death, I got the sense that things improved a bit. I do follow Reed Timmer on Twitter. He’s in my neighborhood just now, down on the Bolivar peninsula, headed for Cameron, Louisiana tomorrow to intercept Laura. I confess that makes me happy. If he’d said he was heading west to Brazoria County, I might have taken a dive under the bed!

  5. With heartfelt thanks to those folks and admiration for their work, they’re a little nuts. :)

    Linda, I wish you and all your community well–be safe, stay dry. Having grown up along the coast and living in Central Texas where we sometimes get the floods and tornadoes, I understand what’s coming your way. My neighbor’s sister and family are evacuating and staying in nearby hotel. Are you going to evacuate?

    1. No, I’m staying put. This complex survived Ike pretty much intact, and the flooding during Harvey didn’t give us any problems, so logic says riding it out is the way to go. I don’t expect it to be pleasant, but it can’t be much more nerve-wracking than Alicia, which was another category 3. Besides, I got a good look at the evacuation traffic on the Gulf Freeway this afternoon, and there’s just no way I wanted to be a part of that again. One of the problems we have is that so many newcomers to the area have no idea about how to cope with one of these. The best advice still is the simplest: run from water, hide from wind. I intend to hide!

      1. No, that makes sense and especially with evacuation traffic. You’re also on an upper floor, so at least as far as where you live, you’ll be dry. I hope your mama squirrel and her babies will be okay. All if you stay safe.

        1. Actually, I’m on the ground floor instead of the third floor since my move, but it will be fine. Even if we get the ten foot surge that’s theoretically possible, that’s only half of the twenty foot surge that came with Ike. Flooding doesn’t worry me at all; even the parking lots here don’t flood. The drainage system’s terrific.

          It’s also worth remembering that long, long ago, before developers and apartment complexes and marinas, the harbor here was the hurricane hole for the shrimpers and work boats. They’d come here to anchor and ride things out during storms. That’s one reason that so many people want to dock their boats here; it really is a safe harbor.

          1. I forgot! I know you’re now in the greenery. That’s interesting about your area being relatively flood proof. Where are you (generally)?

            1. Right here, where the star is. The Gulf freeway’s to the west a few miles, and NASA is right across Clear Lake. While the property I’m on is quite high, not all the land around the lake is. In fact, a good bit of it along Clear Creek floods. You can see the Dudney nature center at the left. During Harvey, there were several feet of water in there; it took it a long time to drain.

  6. Glad you got the humour there, Linda, and I guess its what is keeping you going. Be well and stay safe, and I hope the storm passes by on its way leaving you and your neighbourhood well alone.

    1. Well, practice makes perfect, as they say, and when I counted, I found that this is my 15th significant storm since 1980. The question around here isn’t “Will we get another hurricane?” but “When’s the next one going to show up?” Now it’s here — perhaps getting both Marco and Laura this time means we can skip a couple of years.

    1. You’re right, GP. The Hurricane Hunters fulfill a critical funtion, yet many people have only a foggy idea of what they do. Anyone who wants can follow them when they go up, seeing their flight path and getting real-time data. It’s truly amazing.

    1. If it weren’t for the Hurricane Hunters, it would be far more difficult to track the path of a storm. They’re just the best. It’s still sunny here, with blue skies and the wonderful combination of pre-storm clouds that we get, but the water’s beginning to rise a bit, and I expect by morning we’ll have some wind. We’ll see!

  7. The figurative nature of so much human language makes possible jokes like Gary Larson’s. If we nose around in his work we can probably find many more, as he’s been keeping his nose to the grindstone for decades now.

    1. I’m amazed Covid didn’t cross my mind. But, as I’ve heard several people say, one good thing about these storms is that they finally nudged some of the obsessive coverage of yon virus off the airwaves and pages. Information and advice is good; pot-stirring and fear-mongering, not so much. Ah, well. I just saw Reed Timmer doing a stand-up down on Bolivar, but Cantore was nowhere in sight. I think we’re good.

  8. I saw a video about hurricane hunters when I was in high school and I never forgot it. I can’t imagine the courage one must have to do that. And I agree – sometimes humor is all we have!

    1. I get just a little nervous with normal turbulence in the air; I can’t imagine flying through one of those storms. On the other hand — what an experience! It’s wonderful that we can get a glimpse of their work, and even follow the flights in real time. I’ll bet there’s some nervous laughter on some of those flights.

  9. Not surprised the Hurricane Hunters use C-130’s. That is a very stable airframe. In fact, they’re harder to get out of the air than they are to get into it. I have fond memories of watching them land on the short runways of Tempelhof Airport in Berlin (yes, the one Hitler built). Immediately they cleared the end of the runway, they hit full reverse thrust with the engines and did a little belly flop onto the tarmac.

    1. When I was in Liberia, our mobile clinics used a Cessna STOL, but that’s nothing compared to the C-130s. I didn’t realize those were similarly constrained. All we had to worry about was getting the goats or soccer players off the runway, and then coming to a stop before we hit the trees. Lucky you, to be able to see those planes regularly.

    1. Humor’s like the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down! I know my sense of humor can be a little quirky, but I thought this was one that everyone could enjoy.

    1. Thank you, Maria. I’ve heard from my Lousiana friends now, and they’re all relatively fine. I’m not sure how things are in Acadiana, but in time I’ll find out. Here? We had almost no effects. I’m hoping that east Texas came through it well, too. Some friends there said they had only tropical storm force winds, and didn’t lose power. that’s all to the good.

  10. As a claustrophobe and acrophobe adding 140 mph turbulence doesn’t sound appealing at all. Those folks are amazing. Again, I hope all has been the lesser of what may have been expected and that you saw little loss locally, Linda.

    1. We saw nada. No wind to speak of, and no rain. The surge was the 3-4′ I expected. It’s a terrific irony that you might get some rain out of Laura, and we didn’t get a drop.

      1. By now I think we’ve seen the bulk of what is coming our way. Radar shows little pockets here and there to our west so there is more to come but not the torrents forecast, The heaviest is now going to our south and east.

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