23 Oct, 2020
JERUSALEM WEATHER

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has been the busiest in history forcing meteorologists to resort to labeling storms with Greek letters. But throughout the stormy season, one state, normally receiving the brunt of the ocean storms, has been entirely spared. While experts scratch their heads, some connect this anomaly with the prayers the governor offered in Jerusalem.

Record-Setting 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season began on June 1 and with over six weeks left to go, has set already several records. With a total of  25 named storms,  it is the second most active Atlantic hurricane season on record. In total, there have been a total of 26 tropical or subtropical cyclones, 25 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. The storms began even before the official start of the season with tropical storms Arthur and Bertha forming in May. The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has been so active that it exhausted the regular list of storm names. The Greek alphabet is now being used for only the second time on record. On September 18, three named storms formed in just six hours, tying the record set in 1893 for the most storms in a single day. On September 14, four storms were roaming the Atlantic, tying the 1971 record for the most tropical cyclones at one time.  2020 is only four storms away from breaking the record of the most active season.

Perhaps the most concerning record set by the 2020 hurricane season was the total of ten hurricanes that made landfall, the location in which the center of a tropical storm or hurricane crosses land, on the continental US.  In addition, the season is the first to see seven named tropical cyclones make landfall in the continental United States before September. Of course, the real damage to property and life takes place after a storm passes over land. In total, tropical storms this season have caused an estimated 151 deaths and $26.373 billion in damage. This is, of course, tragic but when compared to what the damage a record number of hurricanes could have wrought, these numbers are quite subdued. Only one of 2020’s hurricanes, Delta on October 9, made the list of the top 60 most destructive hurricanes, coming in 43rd with $2 billion in damage and less than ten storm-related deaths. 

Florida: Tragedy Averted?

Compared to Katrina, the costliest tropical cyclone on record in the Atlantic with $125 billion in property damage and over 1,800 deaths, the 2020 season could well be considered tragedy averted. Despite the record-breaking number of landfalls,  many storms made landfall when they were not at their peak intensity.

When reviewing the stormy season, meteorologists are stunned that none of the landfalls were made in Florida. The only notable exception was Hurricane Sally with up to 30 inches of rain, wind gusts up to 121 mph and storm surge flooding. But Sally’s landfall occurred just across the border near Gulf Shores, Alabama, remaining a mere tropical depression during its time in Florida, ramping up to hurricane intensity after moving away from Florida and moving out to sea. Florida had two other near-misses from storms that later made landfall elsewhere. A storm map shows the Gulf and East coast being affected by storms but the worrisome area shaded in orange surrounding Florida without entering.

 

Gov. Desantis’ Prayer

When considering Florida’s exemption from hurricanes this season, it is well to look back to last September when Florida Governor Ron Desantis led a delegation of more than 90 leading citizens on a trade mission to Israel. The group included powerhouse lobbyists and business, education and religious leaders.

“Our delegation includes professionals and experts from a wide range of policy and business areas, representing every corner of our state,” he said in a prepared statement before leaving for Israel. “During this trip, we will affirm Florida as the most pro-Israel state in the nation and strengthen the bond between Florida and Israel for decades to come.”

While in Israel, the governor signed a resolution honoring the “Israeli-Florida relationship.”  He also signed a bill prohibiting anti-Semitic remarks in Floridian public schools, forbidding comments that draw “comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis,” blame “Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions,” and require “behavior of Israel that is not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

The governor, a Roman Catholic, concluded his trip with a visit to the Western Wall. While at the Jewish site that served as a retaining wall for the Jewish Temples that stood on the Temple Mount, Desantis offered up a silent prayer. Before leaving, he inserted a note between the rocks, as per popular custom, with the words, “Good Lord, spare us hurricanes this year.”

It was also reported that Florida Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz placed an identical note in the Western Wall when he visited Israel one month earlier.

Hezekiah: A King’s Prayer

The governor’s prayer for the safety of his state was highly reminiscent of King Hezekiah who  in 701 BCE as Sennacherib stood poised to conquer Judah. Though a political solution in the form of an alliance with Egypt was more expedient, Hezekiah chose to repent before praying for the safely of Jerusalem

The Assyrians recorded that Sennacherib lifted his siege of Jerusalem after Hezekiah paid Sennacherib tribute. The Bible records that Hezekiah paid him three hundred talents of silver and thirty of gold as a tribute, even sending the doors of the Temple to produce the promised amount, but, even after the payment was made, Sennacherib renewed his assault on Jerusalem. Sennacherib surrounded the city and sent his Rabshakeh to the walls as a messenger. The Rabshakeh addressed the soldiers manning the city wall in Hebrew asking them to reject God and Hezekiah, claiming that Hezekiah’s righteous reforms that included destroying the idols and High Places were a sign that the people should not trust their god to be favorably disposed. The Bible records that Hezekiah went to the Temple and there he prayed to God.

And Chizkiyahu prayed to Hashem and said, “LORD of Hosts, Enthroned on the Keruvim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You made the heavens and the earth. II Kings 19:15

The Bible records that God accepted Hezekiah’s prayers.

More to Come

The governor’s prayers are about to be put to the test. Weather.com reported that October is the month with the most hurricane hits in South Florida, according to NOAA’s Best Track database.