Object of wonder

Wednesday, July 4, 2018 1:21 PM

The names applied to tropical storms and hurricanes stay in our memory, and often in infamy, due to the size and power of the storms and the devastation they cause.

Katrina, Sandy and Andrew are just three great examples from the Atlantic.

The most appropriately named Pacific storm Bud, however, will be remembered in these parts for timing – for bringing rain when the 416 Fire was raging and people were evacuated from their homes, when the situation was still precarious for firefighting crews and public lands across the region were closing for fear of more fire.

A lucky coincidence? Perhaps. Or maybe more than that? Durango’s Tim Rynott thinks so.

A Durango geologist with 25 years spent riding out hurricanes in southern Louisiana, Rynott is fascinated with Bud’s appearance, and with how closely the storm’s formation and track corresponded with local events. He is writing an article about his findings and was kind enough to share some highlights:

“On June 8, Juliette Ambler, a local Durangoan, used the Durango Garage Sale site and Facebook to propose a rain dance and prayer session to help squash the 416 Fire (and) a gathering was scheduled for Buckley Park Monday night, June 11.

“Meanwhile, tumultuous skies frothed the Pacific Ocean 400 miles south of Acapulco.

“On Friday, June 10, almost 1,700 miles from Durango, Bud began lumbering northwesterly, becoming a Category 1 hurricane in less than a day.

“(On) Monday, Buckley Park was transformed by 31 soulful individuals holding hands in silent prayer, and later performing individual dances …. Simultaneous with the prayer session, Bud decides a course direction is in order, and the swirling giant inexplicably turns northbound. Strange indeed. June hurricanes: Very rare. Eastern Pacific hurricanes moving northbound: Even rarer.

“Bud becomes a Category 4 storm at 4 a.m. on June 12, makes landfall on June 14, and then proceeds on a bee-line course due north over the 416 Fire on June 16 and 17. The perfect rain at the perfect time.”

And perfectly improbable, Rynott maintains. Working with nearly 170 years of Pacific hurricane tracking data, satellite images and a Cambridge physicist, Rynott’s preliminary data suggests that the two events happening at the same time – the 416 Fire and Hurricane Bud – “might occur every 50,000 to 100,000 years.”

Raised a Trinity Lutheran, Rynott considers himself “an open-minded agnostic.” The coincidence of the 416 and Burro fires and Bud “has ramped up my open-mindedness, to say the least,” he says.

Is he going so far as to call it a miracle? Not yet, but he offers an alternative.

“An early Latin derivative (of miracle) is miraculum, meaning ‘object of wonder.’ No doubt Bud is a miraculum.”

We agree, and agree wholeheartedly with another of Rynott’s suggestions: Pray some more.

This time for an early arrival of the monsoon.