I have heard some people refer to Hurricane Bill as a “fish storm.” That is not an accurate description if they are implying that Bill will have no impacts to land areas or to marine interests. Bill is large and powerful and, as mentioned in the National Hurricane Center advisories, large swells generated by this hurricane are affecting the northern Leeward Islands and should begin affecting the Bahamas, Bermuda, most of the eastern U.S. coast, and the Atlantic Maritimes of Canada during the next few days. And time will tell how strong the winds will be on Bermuda, Cape Code, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.
I’m also reminded of a hurricane conference a few years ago when one presenter referred to a particular hurricane as a “fish storm.” The conference attendees from the U.S. Navy almost came out of their seats. The presenter only meant to imply that there were no direct impacts to land areas. Those with marine interests in the audience made it clear that hurricanes and the forecasts of hurricanes are of great importance to them and can have huge impacts. Hurricanes have the potential to cause loss of life over the open ocean to those on ships and there are obvious economic consequences as well. In fact, it costs the Navy tens of millions of dollars if, for example, the fleet at Norfolk has to be moved from port due to a hurricane threat.
The historical record indicates that the loss of life related to hurricanes has shifted from ship-related to coastal and inland areas. This is likely due in large part to improvements in communications allowing ships to move out of harm’s way. But let’s not forget that hurricanes can indeed have impacts to the marine community.