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Slow Global Warming


by Gary Brand - written December 11, 1985,
published on this Web site September 20, 2008
Tallahassee's birth chart and Hurricane Kate. Tallahassee's birth chart, which was the date the Florida territorial governor signed the city's earliest incorporation on December 9, 1825.  When the time of day is unknown as in this instance, an arbitrary time of noon is used to calculate the positions of the planets on that date.  Houses are irrelevant because the time is unknown so only the positions of the planets in the signs of the zodiac and the aspects between the planets (the colored lines in the center) are shown.

Tallahassee's birth chart and Hurricane Kate. Tallahassee's birth chart (its earliest incorporation) in the inner wheel with the positions of the transiting planets when Hurricane Kate struck the city in the outer wheel.  Although this chart shows houses (based on using an arbitrary time of noon), they are irrelevant because the time of day when the incorporation law became effective - when it was signed by the governor - is unknown.
I wrote this story in the form of a letter dated December 11, 1985 to a friend of mine who formerly lived in Tallahassee.  Hurricane Kate was a category 1 hurricane that struck the Florida panhandle (the eye passed just 40 miles west of Tallahassee) on the night of Thursday, November 21, 1985.  Tallahassee received the worst of the storm, being on the windward or eastern side of the hurricane.

At that time in my life, I was working a few hours a week at a health food store to help pay for groceries (these were the early days of my practice as a professional astrologer).  I worked at the health food store that day but closed it early at 5:00 PM as the wind tore viciously at me and the trees while rain fell in sheets.  We had over 24 hours warning but many people here (myself included) hoped that it would come ashore elsewhere.  My intuition told me it was headed here though.  I arrived home amidst howling wind and heavy rain about 5:30 PM and "battened down the hatches" (took everything on the front porch inside).  By this time, the lights were flickering and the wind took on the tone of an out-of-control freight train.  For the first time ever, I was afraid to be in my house.  At 6:30 PM, the power (electricity) went off and the phone rang simultaneously - an eerie coincidence that I took as an omen.  It was a friend urging me to come to town and spend the night with some others at her house (a hurricane party).  Without hesitation, I said "yes," collected a few things and was on my wet way.

At that time, I lived in a small but wonderful 140-year old house in the countryside west of the city on a 520-acre farm adjacent to a national forest.  My house was 1 miles down Silver Lake Rd. from Highway 20, which reached Tallahassee in less than 7 miles.  I drove almost to Highway 20 - until I came to a tree across Silver Lake Rd. with a truck stuck on a downed power line on the other side of the tree.  What a weird sight!  The driver asked me to call the power company (which I knew would be hopeless) so I drove back home and called the highway patrol instead.  I thought I might be able to drive around the obstructions on the road so back I went down Silver Lake Rd.  I drove around the first downed tree, around the truck, over the downed power line, and off the road to get around a second downed tree.  By this time, the wind was reaching frightful intensity and all I could hear was its screeching through the closed car windows.

I figured that there might be trees down across Highway 20 so I took Tennessee St. (a main, 4-lane road) into the city.  The power was out at all points west of Capital Circle (except at the city power plant on Geddie Rd., of course).  As I drove into the city, I witnessed an eerie sight I had never before seen - flashes of what looked like lightning all over town.  What was unusual about these flashes is that they were on the ground without streaks of lightning extending into the sky.  They were power lines and transformers shorting out!  Just west of Ocala Rd., a huge Live Oak tree was down, blocking both eastbound lanes of Tennessee St.  I had to turn around and drive back to Appleyard Dr., from which I could return to Highway 20 (I knew Tharpe St., an alternate route with many over-hanging trees, would be impassable).  When I turned onto flooded Appleyard, I encountered water at least a foot deep.  As I drove past Tallahassee Community College, two hugh flashes in the distance took out all of the lights in that section of the city.  The shopping center on Highway 20 between Appleyard Dr. and Ocala Rd. still had power but many traffic lights were out.  I returned to Tennessee St. via Duval St. in time to witness two dead traffic lights swinging wildly in the wind, each suspended on just one thin wire.

By the time I arrived at my friend's house, I was frazzled.  I couldn't pull into her drive because it was completely blocked by downed trees.  We all parked our cars in a lot on Monroe St. (another main street through the city), less than half a block from her house, and by morning we were all glad that we did!  During the most powerful passing of the storm (7:30 - 9:00 PM), two mature Live Oak trees came crashing down (what a sound!) across her drive and parking place and barely missed her house.  If cars had been parked there, they would have been crushed!  We had power at her house until 9:00 PM when we lit the candles and turned on her battery-powered radio.  Radio and TV stations were also going out like lights all over the city and by the next morning (November 22), only one radio station (WTAL) remained on the air.  The five of us stayed up until 11:00 PM listening to the radio describe what few sections of the city still had power and the locations of dozens of houses with trees fallen through the roof, interspersed by the thunderous sound of trees falling outside.  We heard the day after that the storm had sustained winds of 65 MPH with gusts up to 86 MPH during the height of the blast.  It was scary - and Kate was a minimal, category 1 hurricane.

The next morning (November 22) really did look like the city had sustained a mild bomb blast - big signs on steel girders were twisted to the ground.  We learned that several tornadoes also struck.  One person I knew described to me at a later time how he was driving home in the storm when a tornado spun his truck off the road and knocked him unconscious.  When he regained consciousness, he started to drive home again but his truck caught fire!  The morning after, merely 10% of the city still had power - only a short strip in the city's core along Monroe and Tennessee Streets.  At dawn, there was no wind and no traffic - the only sound was that of chainsaws throughout the city.  I went on foot with one of the others in search of hot coffee but the only place we could find with power was Dunkin Donuts on Monroe St.  Needless to say, there was a line of 50 people so we didn't stick around.  By the time we returned to my friend's house, they had deduced that a charcoal fire was the only solution to their coffee craving.  My friend also had no running water that morning.  The only remaining radio station at first listed all of the businesses that would be closed but when they realized that the list was endless, they began reading off only those that would be open that day!  Publix Supermarket and Waterbed Delight were heroically open that day for those needing bed or bread.

I was anxious to return home to see my house.  Driving through the city was quite a trip - long lines at the two or three gas stations with power and virtually no operating traffic lights.  Some drivers stopped at intersections with dead lights but most didn't.  The radio station was urging people to stay home.  All schools and state government offices were closed.  Tharpe St. was indeed impassable with three utility poles across the road - snapped off at their base by a big, falling pine tree.  I arrived at home (the truck hung up on the power line during the storm was gone but the fallen trees were still there) to find my house undamaged except for a few missing shingles and I thanked God for my good fortune.  I stayed home all that day and evening.  There was a curfew from 7:00 PM to 7:00 AM and the cops were actually arresting people who were out driving without a good reason.  A former girlfriend called me (my phone was still working but many in the city were without) and asked if she could come over.  We shared the evening together and she spent the night.

Saturday morning (November 23) I drove into the city for C cell batteries for my radio, kerosene for my hurricane lamp, and candles.  The word was that only 25% of the city had power restored by then.  Publix Supermarket and a few other stores were operating on emergency generators and weren't selling anything refrigerated or frozen in a vain attempt to conserve what cold there still was in their refrigerated units (which they had covered with sheets of plastic).  The next day, they were throwing out everything that had been refrigerated or frozen.  There was not a C cell battery or any kerosene to be found so I bought a big candle (and there were few of those).  I saw a company called Warehouse Foods shipping out their frozen and cold foods in a convoy of rental trucks.  On my way to Market Days (an arts and crafts show scheduled for that weekend - why sit at home with no electricity or water), I passed the only place in the city with dry ice and there were at least 100 people with their coolers lined up waiting (the seller was charging $18 per block of dry ice!).  I guess many people had freezers full of meat.  Most of the businesses on Monroe St. had power and many gas stations were open again.  Electric and phone crews were called in from Georgia, Alabama, Jacksonville, and Gainesville and they worked 16-hour shifts.  Some greedy individuals and businesses were selling chainsaws at outrageous prices that day.

By Sunday morning (November 24), power had been restored to most businesses but big residential sections were still without.  Everyone on Silver Lake Rd. had power but me (my house was the last on the road at that time).  It was not at all uncommon to hear people say that their neighbor had power but they didn't.  The most asked question was "Do you have power?"  This storm had a very interesting effect on people - for once, we all had something in common and strangers talked to each other as if they were neighbors or friends.  On Sunday night, I couldn't stand going without a shower any longer so I drove to the house of the only friend I knew who had power and showered there.  When I don't have electricity at home, I have no running water either because the water pump is electric.  I hauled buckets of water from the cattle-watering trough across the street to flush my toilet.  Although I could cook because I had a small camping stove, I couldn't wash dishes so I didn't do much cooking.  As a matter of fact, I didn't do much eating because eating out at restaurants was risky (food had begun to spoil in many restaurants before their electricity was restored).

On Tuesday (November 26, 5 days after the hurricane), power was restored to my house and it had been restored to most houses in the city by that time.  That's when the scramble began for firewood.  There were so many downed oak trees that everyone with a woodstove or fireplace, a truck, and a chainsaw were out collecting it.  I collected four truck loads of free oak firewood myself so I thought I might have enough for the winter.  On all but the coldest days, I used the fireplace in the living room to heat the house (on very cold days and at night I also used the liquid propane heaters in the house).

Was this hurricane in Tallahassee's birth chart?  In the chart of a city, the Moon represents homes, real estate, the comfort and security of the population, and families.  Obviously, even a storm of this minimal hurricane status affected tens of thousands of individuals, families, homes, and businesses (which represent both real estate and commerce).  Unfortunately, the time of day that most cities, including Tallahassee, were "born" or came into being was not a matter of record.  When the time is unknown, so is the Ascendant or rising sign and the position of the Moon is only an approximation.  However, there is another very significant planet in the chart of a city (the position of which is not affected by time of birth) that represents matters strongly impacted by a storm like this.  That planet is Mercury because it governs communications, transportation, streets, electricity, and commerce.  It is no coincidence that transiting Neptune (one of the two planets ruling hurricanes) was conjunct the city's Mercury (meaning confusion, flooding of low areas, long lines at gas stations at first, and inflated prices).  This aspect occurs once in 165 years.

In Tallahassee's birth chart, transiting Uranus (the other planet ruling hurricanes) was conjunct the city's Sun and Moon, opposite Saturn, and square Jupiter, all of which are stressful and surprising influences.  Transiting Uranus conjunct the city's Sun and Moon in particular indicated a surprising amount of damage from the storm (much more than expected).  These aspects only occur every 84 years so they are rarer than a hurricane hitting Tallahassee.  Another transiting aspect (that occurs once every 29-30 years) was Saturn conjunct the city's Ceres - the storm "harvested" destruction and the city was not very fruitful for some time afterward.
Good Timing and Location are Keys to Success

Gary Brand, Traditional Astrologer
Tallahassee, Florida

© copyright 1985-2013 Gary Brand.  All rights reserved.