2020 has proven to be the strangest year I’ve seen in a good long while. If you need any proof: A coronavirus pandemic shut the world down and is threatening to come back for another round. Murder hornets invaded the Pacific Northwest. The Pentagon released three videos that show UFOs. (Really.) Poland “accidentally” invaded the Czech Republic and briefly occupied territory there. Planters announced that Mr. Peanut had died. Major wildfires happened in California and Colorado. The Louisiana coast was impacted by three hurricanes, while we just had a visit from Tropical Storm Eta. In November. And let’s not forget Tiger King.

With nearly seven weeks left in 2020, one can only wonder what’s next. We’re going to take a look at some potential disasters and their odds of actually happening.

– Another Tropical Cyclone. At deadline time, Theta had just been named a sub-tropical cyclone heading toward the Azores, and a new tropical wave was cruising through the Caribbean with a good chance of developing into a depression or storm. Chance of this happening here: probably better than average. I wouldn’t bet against 2020 here.

– Major Florida Earthquake. Although Florida has felt some small temblors, the odds of a major quake hitting the Sunshine State are thankfully as low as a…

– Giant Asteroid Strike. Scientists have calculated the chance of Earth being hit by a large asteroid, and they say one may likely hit us sometime in the next thousand years. While I am usually comfortable with a one-in-one-thousand chance, not much about 2020 offers comfort. And is it just me, or do we seem to be hearing about a lot more near-misses and close calls from asteroids speeding by Earth?

– Wildfire. South Florida has seen its share of wildfires, both in the Everglades and closer to home on Big Pine Key. If there is any good news, it’s that the ground is so soaked from Eta’s passing that the risk of a large uncontrollable blaze before the end of the year is small. Flooded communities are much harder to ignite. Take that, 2020!

– Sharknado. As long as we’re talking about long shots (like a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season with no end in sight), we might as well consider the possibility of a Sharknado, however remote. Jet Propulsion Laboratory climatologist Bill Patzert said it would take a massive waterspout, like an EF-5 spinning at speeds of more than 250 mph, to generate the updraft needed to suck great whites out of the ocean and dump them on an unsuspecting community. Although Patzert did say, “In a [global] warming world, the atmospheric conditions that generate waterspouts… cold, dry air out of the north colliding with warm, moist air from the south should become more exaggerated. This could lead to super waterspouts.” Let’s just say that a Sharknado is not likely… but not ruled out.

– Zombie Apocalypse. While society being overwhelmed by legions of zombies is unlikely, a bit of research turned up this nugget: On May 18, 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published an article, “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse,” providing tips on preparing to survive a zombie invasion. While (hopefully) tongue in cheek, the article used the example of a zombie apocalypse to encourage preparation for any kind of disaster … including “hordes of ravenous brain-devouring undead.”

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the good news from this week: Pfizer has a COVID-19 vaccine with a reported 90% success rate. Between a good vaccine or three, and better treatments for those who get the ’rona, things may indeed get better in the New Year. And it will feel really good to put 2020 in hindsight.

Seven more weeks…

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There’s an online auction happening now on the Presents In Paradise Facebook page that features great items like hotel stays, fishing charters, gift certificates from restaurants (and more), cool merchandise, and just awesome stuff! All proceeds go to helping local working families make Christmas possible for their children. Just find Presents In Paradise on Facebook, and go to the Auction album in photos to bid on what you want. Bidding ends Sunday, Nov. 15 at noon, and we’ll host a Facebook Live concert live from Havana Jack’s Sunday at 6 p.m. to announce the winners. Adrienne Z, Freddie Bye and yours truly will be playing some cool music, so tune in, stop by, check out the auction, and happy bidding!

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