Growing up in Louisiana, hurricane season was well known. One thing that was semi-symbolic of it to me was hurricane tracking charts. In short, this was a map of the north-western Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico that could be written on, and longitude and latitude plainly marked. Popeye’s partnered with the local TV station to hand out maps at their restaurants. Office supply stores sold ones that were magnetic. Grocery stores printed them on their paper bags.
The first summer after we returned to Louisiana after my dad left the military, I tracked a storm on one of the paper-bag maps. I was nine years old. I remember calling my dad, who’s bachelor’s degree was actually in geography, to explain longitude and latitude to me (he told me later he then had to explain it to his coworkers). A crayon was a less-than-percise marker, but it was a way to spend a summer day.
There are still reasons why this is relevant. Paper and pencil don’t require batteries, and a radio can be powered by relatively simple (and easily replaceable) ones.
I decided to track Isaac “old school,” in part to show my daughter. It didn’t really hold her attention. I found a PDF of the chart from NOAA. I started with a pencil, but switched to a red mechanical pencil to make it clear on the chart. Doing this really give a sense of how the storm moves.
I’ll probably try again with my daughter–there is much to learn from this.