As Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakaatuh
And who could deny the signs of Allah?
Hurricane Charley – August 9-15 2004 Florida:
Before the hurricane season actually struck, I had asked a former NY resident how she had adjusted to life in Florida in general and hurricanes in particular. She replied that the hurricanes didn’t bother her as much as the many tornadoes they tend to spin off! I also learned that hurricanes have a good side and a bad side. The right side (if looking from above) has more turmoil and velocity than the left side. It’s the side that comes after the eye. If you were to look down on a hurricane and divided it directly down the center, you’d have a portion to the left of the eye (it hits first) and a portion to the rightt (it hits after the eye passes – after the lull in the storm). Clearly, I had much to learn about hurricanes.
For days there had been warnings of the coming of Hurricane Charley ( the second major hurricane of the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season). It was tracked from the Caribbean — it’s approach to Cuba and the projected path was to be somewhere hitting to the west of Orlando. (I was in Melbourne at the time which is east of Orlando, so I considered my position to be outside the path of danger.) What was amazing was the size. As they continued to show satellite views it seemed to be huge. Then as it began to hit Cuba and approach Florida, I could see that it WAS indeed truly large. It’s width was twice the width of the state of Florida. Subhaanallah, I uttered to myself, knowing that it was coming from Allah, subhaanahu wa ta’ala.
It was all wind and water, but gathered in such a forcible manner. They kept talking about the storm “organizing” itself — meaning forming that perfect circle with an “eye” at its center. Subhaanallah, again! There was so much information given out — how much they have learned — like, the fact that while it remains over water it continually becomes strengthened, as if the ocean itself was being sucked up to form a bigger and more powerful circle. Warm water is particularly conducive to this and so the warm waters around Cuba helped to strengthen it. Also, land, particularly mountains, tends to slow down a hurricane, but since it went over the flat end of the island, it did not slow down at all. As it bridged the gap between Cuba and Florida, it picked up more water and strengthened to the point where it was upgraded from a Category 1 hurricane (74-95 mph) to Category 2 (96-110 mph). Subhaanallah, with all the might and power of technology and information, there was nothing that mankind could do to deter it, slow it down, weaken it, divert it/ absolutely nothing! This is when you think, “la hawla wa la quwwata ila billah” / There is no strength or might except in Allah. Looking at a portion of the strength of power of Allah coming straight for you is a humbling thing and a message and a sign for the true believer who sees the signs of Allah at every turn.
I’ll get back to the hurricane in a minute but I just have to tell you about this incident that happened recently. Florida is the lightning capital of the US and I think it is some place in Uganda that is the lightning capitol of the world. Masha Allah, thunderstorms here produce over a million lightning strikes per year and resulting in several deaths. A typical lightning bolt contains 1 billion volts and contains between 10,000 to 200,000 amperes of current. About a month ago, a family was out boating on a small lake or river when a thunderstorm came. They sought shelter as the many other families did, but the boat ferry was crowded so they docked at an island and sought refuge under a tree (a bad place to be in a thunderstorm). The mother was holding on to her 10-year old son when a bolt of lightning struck her right in the chest, killing her instantly. That is so astounding to me — like you know that it was really meant for that person and for no one else. Masha Allah. And the same with a hurricane — some die, many do not.
OK, back to this Hurricane Charley, it was now a category 2 storm and still headed for west of Orlando and coming ashore around Tampa, right? WRONG!!! Up until that time, I have to admit that I felt no sense of danger. But then, after it hit land, it turned and they had to re-figure everything. Instead of the projected path going right past Orlando on the west side, it was set for directly through the center of Orlando. And this being the case, that brought Melbourne closer to the hurricane center than previously projected. Ok, I was processing the information ok, then they went and said that between Cuba and where it came ashore it picked up additional strength and was upgraded to a Category 4 (winds at 131-155 mph and typically described as catastrophic; high risk of injury or death to people, livestock, and pets due to flying and falling debris).
Ya Rabbi! Then they changed the map and said all the worst weather would be on the EAST SIDE OF THE HURRICANE!!!!! That was us! Then they started explaining that if a hurricane’s speed is 120 miles an hour, like it was then, and it’s traveling at 25 mph, then you add the speed to the rate it’s traveling and come up with the wind velocity which was 145 mph! And then, poor Melbourne, on the former projected path, would have had 30 mph winds, but with the new calculations and upgrading, it’s winds were projected to be at 80-85 mph. Ok, NOW you’re scaring me! They said that it would hit Orlando around 9pm and Melbourne is before that so we were due to be hit around Maghrib. Around 7:30pm the winds picked up and we could see the trees across the street – they were swaying a bit. Nothing drastic. They predicted gusts of wind up to 80 mph, and there were gusts, but not like that. As it darkened and after Maghrib, we could hear the wind, but it wasn’t a steady howling that I had expected. Just high gusts from time to time, then some rain, silence, and then again… wind, rain, like that. We saw nothing like the pictures they usually show of the palm trees bent over and branches all flying in the opposite direction like in the areas where the hurricane came on land and then proceeded up the state. The eye of the storm hit Orlando, but we in Melbourne had minimal damage, alhamdulillah. In other places, especially where the hurricane hit land and all the way up where the eye was located, the damage was much more severe.
Most of the storm was over for us around 10pm. We all stayed in 1 room until that passed, but there were tornado warnings on until 2am, however, but after the storm died down, we all went to bed, my son, my aunt and I. Alhamdulillah under all circumstances. In Orlando, they said this morning on the news, that over 180,000 residences are without power and will be like that for a couple of days. Alhamdulillah, even some residences in this county are without electricity, but we have everything, by the grace and mercy of Allah. He is all deserving of our praise and thanks. Once again, I see in His creation reasons to marvel and wonder at His mercy. May Allah protect us from the Fire and keep us on the Straight Path.
~in praise of Allah
A waterspout/tornado drops down from an outer band of Hurricane Charley
Outer band of Hurricane Charley over downtown Orlando on August 14