A Very Close Call

Hurricane Floyd never delivered the catastrophic blow forecasters feared, but that just postpones the inevitable

For a day or two last week, it really looked as though the Big One were finally here. Experts had been warning for years about the imminent arrival of Hurricane X, the killer storm that the law of averages dictates must sooner or later strike the coastal U.S., making such legendary monsters as Andrew, Hugo and Camille seem like mere squalls.

And here came Floyd. It was huge, spanning an astonishing 600 miles. It was intensely powerful, with sustained winds of nearly 155 m.p.h.--a Category 4 hurricane, only one step below the most destructive designation on the charts. Most significant...

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