The big story of the past few days has been Ernesto, which at the time of this writing has flirted with hurricane status but gotten rejected every time. After making a second landfall near Wilmington, North Carolina, Ernesto is expected to weaken and slowly drift northward on Friday, where it will bring plenty of moisture (not the alcoholic kind) to the Capital of All Things Tailgating late in the day. Ernesto's impact on State College this weekend could be problematic as upwards of 4 to 6 inches of rain are expected between Friday afternoon and midday Saturday. Combined with ground that is already saturated with moisture from recent rains, localized flooding will be a concern before game time. I do expect that the heaviest rains will taper by the 3:30pm kickoff, but showers will still linger and that cool, damp, not-so-warm-fuzzy feeling will remain through the evening. The gameday forecast: Rain in the morning, possibly heavy at times, tapering to occasional showers during the afternoon; highs will be in the low to mid 60s. It isn't the best weather in which we've opened a football season, but some of the wettest in recent memory.
My brief digression from football takes us to a comparison of this Atlantic Hurricane Season with last year's. Exactly 365 days ago the nation was watching the destruction unfold in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in what would be a record-setting Atlantic Hurricane season. It was the first time that Greek letters were ever used to name storms, and the season was extended into January 2006 as storms kept popping up long after the official season's end on November 30. This year has been a dud by comparison, as we've yet to have a named hurricane. Keep in mind that we are in the prime breeding time of nature's pinwheels, so it's not safe to say that the rest of the year will be this tranquil. The National Weather Service is predicting a total of 12 to 15 named storms before the end of this year's season, though some are starting to think that this may be a little generous. Still, it's fair to say that watching the true fury of a hurricane unfold right before our eyes as we did with Katrina and Rita has taught us one thing – Mother Nature will always have her way, and seldom does she show any meteorological mercy.
That's all for now, but I will throw a brief forecast for South Bend around Thursday of next week for those of you planning on traveling to the Notre Dame game. In the meantime…
GO Penn State. Beat Akron.
We Are… PENN STATE!