I know, I know. Everyone is freaking out about Rita. Taking precautions is obviously necessary, but panic leads people to make irrational decisions. And in our current fragile economic state, panic (fueled by a full week of pre-storm suspense) might have really bad, far-reaching effects on the national -- and even international -- economy.
I'm not saying any of the current evacuations are panicky. No, evacuation is smart. Panic, however, is reflected in the plunging stock market. Or what I fear I will find tomorrow when I go to fill up gas.
Scientifically speaking, I gather that there's a decent chance the storm may weaken considerably before landfall. A couple of models I've seen suggest the storm is likely to drop to Category 2 or 3 status, because of the shallow water, changing wind conditions, and the fact that storms simply don't hold together at Category 5 intensity for very long.
Still bad, but hopefully not a situation where the entire city of Galveston is wiped off the map (as one 'worst-case scenario' has predicted). I'm no meteorologist, of course; if anyone who knows more about these things than I wants to 'school' me on this, I would welcome it.
Let's cross our fingers, shall we? And maybe turn off the TV: watching that angry red donut on its savage westward dance can be addictive. But it fuels the panic.