Lucky. That's the key word in considering the vicious hurricane that roared ashore in south Texas during the past 48 hours and is now playing itself out inland.
This was a fiercer hurricane than most. At one time at Category 4 on a scale of 5, it hit land with sustained winds in the 145 mph range as it prowled the Gulf of Mexico.
It was not as large a hurricane as some in total area covered, but it had an especially well-formed, tight eye. And had it hit just a bit further up the Texas coast, in the population center of Houston, this would have been a different story.
As it turned out, the hurricane's center went inland just below Corpus Christi, in one of the most sparsely populated areas of Texas.
So, lucky is the word. And early, effective evacuation is once again the lesson. Over the years, in the last half of the 20th century, a combination of vastly improved communications and increased public awareness of hurricane dangers has reduced deaths, injuries and damage from hurricanes.
This is worth remembering as another tropical wave northwest of Puerto Rico appears to be getting better organized and could develop into a major hurricane danger; and as we remind ourselves that the whole Gulf and East coasts of the U.S. are in the midst of the hurricane season, and will continue to be for at least another month.
Hurricane forecasters have been saying for some time that they believe this time of year will see several especially strong hurricanes. Bret was the first to prove them right. There'll be more.
And the next time we may not be so lucky. But we can hope. And among those who live along potential danger area coastlines, stay alert.