Hurricane Earl

Hurricane Earl batters Sapphire Beach.

Another hurricane season ended yesterday, November 30, a date we greet every year with a deep sigh of relief. It’s not just because there’s little likelihood of hurricanes forming after November, it’s because we in the Virgin Islands know a thing or two about hurricanes:

• Hurricanes make us fat. As soon as we get home after rushing to the store for hurricane food supplies, we start eying the boxes of cookies, muffins and candy bars that we brought home. Of course we stocked up on all that only because — we swear! — we think we might need extra energy later to clean up debris. But before the eye of the storm even glances our way, we’re surrounded by crumbs and empty wrappers.

• Hurricanes don’t play fair. Sometimes they come, sometimes they don’t. They skip some buildings but slam others into smithereens. The quality of construction may make a difference, yet we’ve seen more than one shanty standing upright next to a pile of rubble and rebar that once was a villa.

• Hurricanes don’t have a quota system. Just because we got two Category 5 storms in one year does not exempt us from getting hit the next year — or the next month — or the next week. Just ask us, we’ll tell you all about IrMaria, our “Category 10.”

• Hurricanes drive Vegas oddsmakers crazy. Scientists and gamblers alike study all known factors about a topic, and then they do statistical analyses to come up with predictions about what’s most likely to happen. It works for medicine; it works for meteorologists; it works for thoroughbred betting — but it does not work for hurricanes. Nobody expected a season like the one that just ended: The Virgin Islands got a pass and the Gulf states and Mexico got pummeled repeatedly.

• Hurricanes keep bad company. Their winds are awful, but the tornados they bring along with them do as much or more damage than the actual storms.

• Hurricanes cause noise long after they’re gone. The sound of generators is sweet only to the ears of those who are lucky enough to own them. To the neighbors who have to listen to them late into the night — or worse yet, 24/7, they are the anvil chorus.

• Hurricanes have a starting point. We know that the International Headquarters of the Hurricane Manufacturing System is in Senegal, so while the less-informed stateside observers look for whirling cloud patterns approaching the Caribbean, we know to look eastward.

• Hurricanes make us strong. Every storm teaches us something useful. They show us what we needed to do better, do differently, do more of and do less of. And because we are proudly VI Strong, we learn those lessons and get ready for when — not if — another hurricane comes.

We all know that saying “Please” and “Thank You” at appropriate times is a touchstone of good manners, and traditionally, Virgin Islands churchgoers dedicate two days each year to saying those words while reflecting on hurricanes.

June 1, the official beginning of the season, is Hurricane Supplication Day, when we pray to be spared — and to be brave if we aren’t.

November 30, the official end of the season, is Hurricane Thanksgiving Day, when we express our gratitude for surviving another season.

Since 2020 was a relatively uneventful V.I. hurricane season, now would be a good time for at least a mental “Thank You.”

Why stop there? Next season is only six months away, so perhaps it would also be the right time for “Please.”