October 17, 2005

Vince vanished quietly from the awareness of N. Americans to become a curiosity in Europe. It seems oddly fitting that it should be in a generally record-setting year that Spain and Portugal should experience their first tropical system ever: even if only a matter of a bit of moderate wind and a welcome few inches of rain amid years of burnt forestland. (At one point last year, one third of Portugal was ablaze.)

Wilma tied that record: most tropical systems in the Atlantic ever, most Atlantic hurricanes ever. After this, a new list into uncharted territory begins ... and maybe a renewed respect for what wind and water can do. (The waters of the Gulf of Mexico are still very, very warm.)

For a species which has grown to think of itself as master of its environment, complacency comes all too readily. We human beings do seem to need regular reminders.

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