The Key West Mystique

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Where the heck IS Key West? A geography lesson for hurricane watchers

By Linda Grist Cunningham, editor and proprietor

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of Key West Island News and KeyWestWatch Media LLC. She and her husband, a park ranger at Fort Zach, live in Key West with their Cat 5s.

08/28/2019

Dear off-island friends and family,

We’re OK. Really. We are. Just because the weather folks are going nuts speculating that Florida is square in the cone of soon-to-be Hurricane Dorian does not mean Key West and the Florida Keys are anywhere near that dude.

I totally understand that if you’ve not been here or if your grade school geography classes were lacking you’d be concerned. I am grateful you care; save the angst for when we need it.

This happens every time bad weather heads for Florida. No matter how many times we protest to the contrary, there’s wailing and gnashing of teeth. We are NOT South Florida. We are NOT Southwest Florida. We are not, heaven forbid, Miami, Fort Lauderdale or Daytona. We are not near Lake Okeechobee and we are so far from Disney World that we can’t do it in one day. We are NOT Tampa or St. Pete or Naples.

We are closer to Cuba than Miami. We are 106 miles from Havana. We are 163.8 miles to Miami. Think about it this way: It’s 227 miles from Washington, D.C. to New York City. That’s like going from Key West to the southern end of Lake Okeechobee. Really. Long way. Different weather patterns.

Now that we’re in hurricane season, keep that little geography lesson in mind. Just because Miami or West Palm Beach might be in the center of the cone does not mean Key West is being blown away.

Ranger Ed and I finished our seasonal hurricane prep this week. We’re not careless about hurricanes and we’re prepared to be without water, electric and other services for a month. If we have to evacuate, the go-bags are packed, the important papers are scanned and stored in the cloud with hard copies of the really important ones. The Cat 5s each have their own carrier, which means room in the car for us, cats and go-bags. We would likely leave if a Cat 4 or above is headed our way.

We are prepared for a direct hit — and we are prepared if a hurricane takes down South Florida — because that’s where our water and electric come from. The Keys and Key West could wait a long time for utility restoration.

No one should ignore hurricane warnings. But, before I get too riled up, I check the map.

1 Comment

  1. Key West!

    Where my story begins

    Sincerely your’s,

    Max Millionz

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