The Fish Story

Dodging a Not-Everyday Bombogenesis; Perfect Time to Check Yourself Out

By JAY MANN | Mar 07, 2018

You’ve heard of dodging a bullet. Over the weekend, the Island dodged a bombogenesis. Bombogenesis is a coined word for an explosive storm that forms off the Eastern Seaboard in nothing flat, primarily from Cape Hatteras and northward. Islanders know all too well about explosive “Hatteras lows.” The term couples the technical name for a coastal storm detonation, a cyclogenesis, with the lay term for the explosion, a bombing.

The bombogenesis process was perfectly personified by last weekend’s mega storm, which the Weather Channel named Winter Storm Riley.

Riley left us in it dust … in a good way. Instead of becoming a nor’easter for our region, it bombed far enough north – off North Jersey and New England – that it brought us a honking nor’wester, my coined term.

As a nor’wester, we got the big-ass low’s backside effects in the form of howling northwest winds instead of far more treacherous onshore nor’easterly winds.

Had the storm hit us in an onshore wind manner, we would have been neck-deep in hurt. Instead, the 50- to 55-mph offshore gust actually helped to fend off potentially critical beach erosion and bay flooding. Instead, the winds blew water out of Barnegat Bay almost as fast as the super-riled ocean muscled it in, via powerful ocean waves and hiked water levels.

We still got nicked by some highly aggravating Boulevard and sideroad flooding on Sunday, due to a back-off of the offshore winds, allowing a still bulked-up ocean to finally have its bay-filling ways. It was just a grazing example of what we would have seen had we been fully and classically nor’eastered.

I first registered the nor’wester effect from some LBI-bred surfing buddies who relocated to South Carolina, being waveriding golfers. Down there, they quickly noticed that the famed, fiercely explosive Hatteras winter lows, forming just to their north, had minimal impact on their Myrtle Beach area, where the intensifying storm systems presented as howling offshore wind, i.e. nor’westers.

Now, I need to get a bit theoretical by relating bombogenesises – or is it bombogenesi? – with climate change. If a long-term climate-change component is influencing winter storms, might it cause more and more nor’easterish lows to detonate off North Jersey, instead of off Hatteras? Could we be entering an era of nor’westers for LBI? It’s worth a thought, though I greatly prefer actual meteorologists to be the main critiques of such a shifty theory.

FYI: Classically speaking, the birth of nor’easter/nor’wester storms off the mid-Atlantic coastline begins with a distant low-pressure system, most often over the Great Lakes. In a slingshot power shift, the energy from the up-north low gets slung to the southeast, ending up in the nearshore Atlantic. Once there, the mainland-based energy partners with massive amounts of heat energy stored within – and constantly released by – the ocean. The married energies go cyclogenestically ballistic. Voila … a mighty mess for the coast.

By the by, even if we’re seeing a potentially beneficial (for us) cyclogenesis shift northward, that will not even remotely protect us from increasingly severe tropics-born cyclones. Nor will it stave off low-pressure systems moving rapidly northeastward out of the Gulf of Mexico.

I’ll join the drama queen storm-watchers guild by suggestively warning that LBI’ers might increasingly fear Gulf-born lows.

An appropriate LBI trivia tidbit: This week marks the anniversary of the Great March Storm of ’62, also called The Great Atlantic Storm of 1962, the Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962 – and, shortly after it hit, some unmentionable names.

The ’62 Storm has been highlighted by U.S. Geological Survey as one of the most destructive storms of any ilk – including hurricanes – to hit the mid-Atlantic states. While the March Storm was amazing, the lack of pre-storm hype and forecast buildup – it was totally unpredicted – made it more of a “What just hit us!?” event.

Thinking back, there was very little rending of clothing and gnashing of teeth over the storm’s damages. No sooner had the shocked headshaking stopped than it was “Well, better start cleaning up this mess. I’m guessing we might want to get some of those houses off the Boulevard first.”

The Great March Storm of 1962 was classified as a Level 5 (out of 5), or an “Extreme Nor’easter,” according to something called the Dolan-Davis scale. For a read on that storm rating system, Google “Dolan-Davis scale for classification of Atlantic Nor’easters.”

HEY, LOOK AT ME!: I’ve suddenly gotten into checking myself out. Whoa, wait, that sounds kinda weird, especially at my age. What I meant: When shopping, I now check out my own items, especially at grocery stores. And check it out, I’m getting pretty good at SYO – scan your own.

Admittedly, I’ve run into some self-checkout hang-ups, mainly due to my insistence on bringing my own reusable bags. When readying to scan a slew of items, I must first advise the tiny lady inside the scanning machine that I’m forsaking the store’s stinkin’ plastic bags. Once that’s made clear – and despite the possibility that the in-machine lady might cop an attitude over my anti-plastic bagness – it gets kinda cool.

I’ve become adept at nimbly swiping bar codes, as the scanner’s inner-lady loudly announces the price to me. Unfortunately, at places like ShopRite, my rhythmic scanning flow often gets rudely interrupted by a higher-volume announcement, cockily noting something like “You saved … $2” on a sale item. I’m sorely tempted to respond, “Hey, lady, if it weren’t for that so-called savings I wouldn’t touch your over-priced blood oranges! Hell, the only reason I’m buying the bloody blood oranges is I feel sorry for them – sitting there, all un-bought-like. They have feelings, too, you know. Just like you and me, if they get cut, they bleed red. Just sayin’.”

Of course, I wouldn’t dare speak of such things, knowing it’s unwise to provoke those internal scanner entities. I could see my very next scan: “Toothpaste … let’s see, how about $87.11? How’s that grab your cheap, bleeding-heart ass?!”

“Why, you little …!” I can picture management dragging me away from the checkout … as I’m taking one last kick at the scanner. “Come out here and say that!”

Just kidding. I’ve gotten nothing but polite pricing from the little people inside those machines.

Anyway, I’m buffing up on my self-scan capacities to prepare for my remaining future. Things are changing fast. I noticed at Walmart they’re cutting in-the-flesh checkout lanes by over half. It’s now self-scan or stand, i.e. stand in line waiting for a bored-sick human cashier, light flashing over her register, trying to attract a supervisor for a price override after some lady with pink-streaked hair and wearing tortured “Pink” sweatpants suddenly remembered she had a coupon for industrial-strength Midol.

Of course, the rush to self-scanningness has me sympathetically wondering whither goeth all those displaced cashiers … you know, the ones who can’t fit into scanning machines. I envision a glut of unemployed check-out folks hanging out at the employment office, talking about the golden days when being behind the register meant you were somebody. They failed to realize how quickly life in the fast aisle can change. That’s a possible ditto for me.

Even as I train for self-scanning days ahead, I just saw a Bloomberg report about insta-shopping, using smartphones. You scan and even bag products right there in the aisles. When done, you just pay, in situ, using said smartphone. When done, you just walk the hell out – likely passing absurdly high-tech tracking and detecting machines, which have been tracing your every body-warmth move since you arrived. Try to walk out with an unpaid item? Robots, wearing slick black outfits and silver helmets with glowing red eye sockets, rush in. “Stop! Your bag is in violation. Remove any unpaid items … or you won’t like how this ends. … And thank you for shopping Walmart.”

OK, so maybe I added that robot part, but insta-shopping is a mere head’s turn ahead.

COME, DON’T FLY WITH ME: I recently turned down a delicious offer to take a long weekend to fish on an isolated Caribbean isle. It is among many come-visits I have ignobly backed away from – no thanks to my absolute and irrevocable fear of flying. My aviophobia began many a moon ago, during my Hawaii overwintering days. Things got worse with every flight to and from the islands.

One flight I’ll long remember was the time an equally flight-fearing surfing buddy, while dropping me off at Honolulu Airport for a flight to LA, handed me, with genuine sincerity, a single swim fin. It was one of those blue and yellow Churchills. Yes, it was, in fact, meant for the inevitable crash-landing of my plane somewhere in the middle of the Pacific. The lone fin would assure my swimming back to shore.

That crash-assist device seemed pure genius. It inspired an uncustomary bounce of confidence to my boarding gait. I quite coolly cruised down the 747 aisle, holding my swim fin over my shoulder with one finger, smile-greeting fellow passengers. “Hey, buddy, howzit? … How are things goin’, darlin’? … Nice day for flying, eh?”

Well, my swim-fin cockiness lasted right up to when a skinny-ass flight attendant, fully incapable of pulling anyone out of post-crash waters, announced, “Please buckle your seat belt, place your seats into an upright position and prepare for take-off.”

I felt my Churchill bravado slipping away – suddenly worsened by my always demanding a seat next to an emergency exit, you know, to minimize the number of people I’d need to throw aside and trample under after we crashed. “If you are seated next to an emergency exit, please read carefully the special instructions card located by your seat. If you do not wish to perform the functions described in the event of an emergency, please ask a flight attendant to reseat you,” further announced the stewardess.

Perform the functions!? If she meant performing bodily functions common to a terrifying crash landing, I’m your perfect exit-sitter.

By the time we were taxiing down the runway, my erstwhile cockiness went down in a ball of flames.

Thinking back, I pity what nearby passengers must have gone through, seeing the sun-ravaged surfer guy in 28C, clutching a swim fin to his chest, rocking back and forth, alternating between weeping and openly crying out, “Have we hit the water yet!?” Let’s just say I wasn’t contributing to the flight’s esprit de corps.

I do clearly recall the flight attendants, begging, “Sir, can we please get you a drink, or two… or many?”

That was all I needed to hear!

“We’re going down, aren’t we?! You’re just trying to drunk me up so I won’t feel the crash! Where’s my frickin’ swim fin?!”

I was truly that bad toward the end of my flying career.

But, on to why I’m really in this no-fly zone.

It is with an at-a-distance admiration that I genuinely congratulate the entire airline industry after 2017 passed with no passenger-jet accidents. That’s the first time in 60 years for such a crash-free stint – and with way more flights than ever. Rock on, you crazy pilots!

Since I’m quietly a people person – though I’m not much at interconnecting with people, per se – I’m ecstatic for all the anonymous lives not lost, thanks to improvements in flying safety – and, apparently, our 45th president, Donald John Trump.

Upon the national announcement that 2017 saw no passenger airline crashes, President Trump trumped in with what some might take as a mildly egocentric explanation, essentially taking vicarious credit for the crashlessness. “Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation,” he tweeted, going on to proudly assert, “There were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!”

Wow, thanks, dude – though it might be pointed out that no commercial jet operated by an American airline has suffered a fatal crash since 2009, meaning the current crash-free streak predates his White House arrival. Who knows, maybe the crashes saw him coming and, uh, took off.

jaymann@thesandpaper.net

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