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Pushpins and a weather map

It would be too easy to say it’s never going to happen again. But we’ve said that before.

It would be too easy to say the chances of getting a direct hit are infinitesimal. But history has proven that even slight odds can still come out against you.

History and current events, at least those as recently as 2003, have proven the Hampton Roads area is a favorite vacation spot for tropical storms, depressions and hurricanes.

Maybe it’s the great restaurants around the area or the historic locations to tour, or maybe its Busch Gardens or the shopping in Colonial Williamsburg, but for some reason these tropical systems have a way of making their presence known around here from time to time.

Last week, our staff produced a hurricane preparation guide, detailing ways to make sure you are ready for the Atlantic hurricane season that began June 1.

Between that date and late November, local weathermen — and their colleagues along the Atlantic coast and throughout the Gulf Coast — will have their trained eyes on the warm waters throughout the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, looking for the next system to develop.

Growing up along the Alabama Gulf Coast, I became all too aware of the hurricane season. I remember seeing my parents put together emergency kits, complete with flashlights, extra batteries, candles, non-perishable food items and duct tape (a must).

And, since we lived along a river, I remember packing up suitcases and heading off to the grandparents’ house as we evacuated from an approaching storm — regardless of size or strength.

And it is one of those memories that made me insist we published a hurricane-tracking chart in the preparation guide.

I know that today we have websites that track the storm by the minute, providing nearly the exact location and current wind speeds. I know that technology has given weather experts the ability to both track and project a storm’s path, improving the predictions of where a storm may make landfall.

But for me, the act of using the hurricane-tracking chart — using updated positioning information from the television or radio — is a way for me to once again connect with my grandfather, Daddy Bob.

I remember him sitting in his “den” and placing colored pushpins at the point of an approaching storm’s most recent location. He would have a pin for each new coordinate, and the series of pins would show the storm’s track.

His system was so detailed he would use different colors for different storms and would leave behind the pins, even when a storm had come and gone.

At the end of the season, he would put the board and pins away, separated properly to be ready for the next season.

I have far too many hurricane-related stories in my life, enough for a lifetime.

As we move along through the current season, I can only hope I don’t have to add any more.

But that reminds me — I need to pick up some pushpins.