Hurricane time is here again, and it is incumbent upon champions of civic duty to offer some pointers to those of you who have never experienced this particular wonder of nature.
Since over 65,000 students every year are admitted to the University of Tampa from New Jersey, many are unfamiliar with hurricane season, an annual event during which nature conspires to circumcise the southern United States by battering Florida with epic disasters.
Don’t be alarmed!
Experienced Florida natives sleep through most Category 4 hurricanes, and report only slight difficulty surfing during a Category 5. You sports enthusiasts are in luck: just think of it as rain – to the extreme!
But those who are less daring should have no fear: university administrators are sensitive to your concerns, and the traditional procedure here at UT is to cancel classes whenever a cloud momentarily passes over the sun.
Besides, no hurricanes have approached Florida so far this season, perhaps frightened by the thought of making landfall in an area with no gun control laws to speak of.
However, if the worst should happen, there are a few common procedures to keep in mind.
When you first hear about an approaching hurricane, PANIC. Run around in circles, screaming and shouting, until you collapse in a sodden heap on the floor.
The searing hot adrenaline coursing through your veins will sharpen your survival instincts. Thus, you can prepare to dodge the frogs that will soon be falling from the sky.
If you are planning to fly home, BE SENSIBLE. Remember that meteorology is a primitive science mostly controlled by Confucian mystics who predict the course of storms by reading chicken entrails.
You may be aware of a device shown on weather maps called the “cone of probability,” which is intended to show the possible path of a storm. Consult this.
While it can be useful, it should not be considered reliable when it encompasses more than half of the lower 48 states.
If you do manage to escape, DO NOT book your tickets to Florida too early. You may end up flying back into Tampa before the storm even hits.
This would look really silly, and you may get lost inside the BERMUDA TRIANGLE, which could be mildly detrimental to your travel plans.
If you are in the BOATHOUSE, remember that the title of the building implies the presence of boats (though, oddly, Vaughn Center is not located in the center of Vaughn.)
Said Boathouse boats can be used as flotation devices in an emergency, and probably will have to be, as people usually tend to forget the Boathouse exists.
If you are outside, GET INDOORS. If you cannot get indoors, hide under the TALLEST TREE YOU CAN FIND. If you own a LIGHTING ROD, swing it WILDLY TO AND FRO to deflect incoming lightning bolts.
If trees or other prominent objects in your environment are bending sideways, DON’T BOTHER TO WALK TO CLASS. No one will be impressed, because no one else will be there.
Finally: A good way to track the progression of any on-campus emergency is to WATCH YOUR RA. Like dolphins, RAs are exceptionally attuned to dangerous changes in the environment.
I will provide a short guide to some common RA gestures you may see during a weather crisis.
In graphic #1, the RA (portrayed by that international star of stage and screen, me) is indicating: “There’s no chance of a hurricane.”
Note the relaxed posture and continued presence at the danger zone.
Inevitably, even the most educated experts on weather will enter the phase shown in graphic two: “there might be some chance of a hurricane.”
At this point, you should be quietly making your way to the nearest bombshelter.
A final run to the Spartan Express for ramen noodles and Starbucks is appropriate.
You may need these if society collapses and is replaced with rule by biker gangs.
Always be on the lookout for the final and most important sign of escalation, in graphic three. “there’s a good chance a hurricane is happening now.”
If you see this, it is time to go. Walk, drive, or swim to the nearest place of safety.
Florida is known for its amazing weather. You’ll adapt to its challenges like a pro if you remember the best way to stay safe: When the weather gets too amazing, OBSERVE IT FROM FAR, FAR AWAY.