Massive Hurricane Veers Off After Close Encounter; Scientists Baffled
Halifax, Nova Scotia (CP) Hurricane Teresa, a major Category Four hurricane in the Atlantic, was on a trajectory for the Atlantic provinces this weekend after cutting a swath across the lower Eastern Seaboard and passing by the American Northeast. The storm, which rose up out of the tropics as a late season hurricane, gained strength over the Caribbean off warm waters, and kept building in intensity as it moved initially northwest.
“We were worried it was going to hit Florida at first,” George Kovack, a scientist with the National Hurricane Center told reporters. “Given how much is so close to sea level, it’s a disaster just waiting to happen, and yes, Florida dodged a bullet this time, but it’s happened before, and it will happen again. Politicians on all sides in this matter must understand that.”
Rick Scott, governor of Florida, shrugged that off. “Hey, who cares about a little rain?” he told reporters after receiving a campaign donation from BP. “Look, what’s important is we shred all regulations and rules and all that and just trust the oil companies and my buddies in the construction industry and the gun lobby to act responsibly. And don’t even ask me about climate change. Vote Scott in 2018!”
Teresa moved up the coast, continuing to build, striking Georgia, the Carolinas, and southern Virginia before shifting slightly east. Emergency responders were quick to move in, and the governors of those states expressed relief that the storm could have been much worse. Forecasts had it moving past the Northeast, merely delivering a good deal of rain to coastal areas, but not the full force of a hurricane. The forecasts did, however, project landfall in the Canadian Atlantic provinces.
Teresa Zacchara, a New York lawyer, filed suit against the National Hurricane Center in a peculiar twist on the storm. She spoke to reporters outside a courthouse in Albany. “We Teresas demand that hurricanes never again be named after us! It’s a travesty! Imagine going through days on end of being heckled. Hey, Teresa, are you going to blow the house down? Or how about this one? Teresa, I hear you’re throwing a temper tantrum out in Raleigh on Thursday! It’s absolutely irritating, you hear me? And on behalf of all Teresas in the world, I demand that the National Hurricane Center pay me 500 million dollars in damages and emotional distress.”
The storm moved northeast, with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick seemingly to be the next to feel its wrath. Canadian authorities prepared for the worst. Landfall looked to be centered on the city of Yarmouth, on Nova Scotia’s southwestern edge, with the Bay of Fundy sure to see record surges of water. And then the most peculiar thing occurred.
The waves were coming in along the harbourfront in Yarmouth, battering the docks. Winds were picking up. A light rain was starting to fall in advance of the storm itself. And witnesses saw a single man step out onto the waterfront, facing southwest, seemingly right into the maw of the storm itself. Reporters learned he was in town on official business as a lawman.
It was legendary RCMP Inspector Lars Ulrich.
He was silent at first, the wind howling around him, the waves crashing along the waterfront nearby, simply staring. Or glaring, as other witnesses suggested. Scientists at Environment Canada and the National Hurricane Center, tracking the storm, saw something strange in their satellite images. For the first time since Teresa had developed, the storm halted its pace. As it turned out, it was the exact same moment the Inspector stepped out onto the Yarmouth waterfront.
A local officer explained afterwards what had happened. He had been close enough to Ulrich to hear the Inspector utter two words over the wind. “Go away,” Ulrich said, speaking in his usual low, gruff tone. The winds promptly died down, and the rain stopped.
Scientists were astonished by what happened next as they tracked the storm, though they had no idea of what was unfolding in Yarmouth. Teresa shifted course directly east, seemingly turning on a dime, and went out into the North Atlantic, its energy spent, and the storm died out. Alicia McKay, a hurricane specialist with Environment Canada, was stunned to hear the news out of Yarmouth, particularly how the Inspector’s confrontation with the storm matched exactly the timing of the hurricane promptly shifting direction. “As a scientist, I don’t know how to explain what happened. Hurricanes don’t do what this one did. On the other hand... we’re talking about the same guy who made Godzilla run away.”
Reporters soon put the pieces together, and converged on the Inspector when he made his return to his home detachment in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. Ulrich seemed cranky when he arrived at work to find a host of reporters waiting. Most of them, however, were real reporters who understood he was not that mentally addled Metallica drummer.
As this reporter noted- most of them grasped that. One, however, did not.
An overly cheerful and dimwitted reporter made a point of bursting out of the crowd, a cameraman right behind him. “Lars! Lars!” he called out. “Flip Callaway, Access Hollywood,” he introduced himself to the Inspector. The real reporters all backed up, mostly because we didn’t want to get hit by a flying and badly wounded entertainment reporter. “What everyone at home wants to know is... did the rest of Metallica know you were picking a fight with a hurricane?”
Five seconds later, Ulrich threw the first punch, sending Callaway flying across the parking lot in front of the detachment. Five seconds later, Callaway was running for his life, an irritated Mountie hot on his heels. Ten seconds after that, the real reporters were placing bets on how long Callaway would be in traction. This reporter won, as doctors later announced Callaway will be in a body cast for the next twenty eight months.