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It’s almost autumn. Can you tell in South Florida?

Editor’s Note: Like fall, this story comes around annually. Parts of it have run previously, but it captures that elusive feeling of Florida fall so well that we thought we’d share it again.

Every year, there’s one day in mid-September when Florida’s fall arrives.

Officially, that day is Thursday at 10:21 a.m., but I noticed it early one morning last week.

Stepping outside at about 6:30, it felt, well, not cool but slightly less oppressive. There was a breeze and the low that morning had dropped to an almost glacial 77.

It felt like hope.

When I left work that evening, it was again tolerable. Pleasant, even. And that’s when I saw fall.

The sky was blue instead of wearing summer white.

The light suddenly looked different because the sun is tracking lower in the sky. A soft golden hue had replaced summer’s kleig-light glare.

It looks like fall because the sun has swung noticeably south of its solstice in the northern latitudes. For a moment, day and night are almost of equal length, before the nights greedily gain on the day.

That’s how you know it’s fall in South Florida. The light changes long before the temperature.

Rejoice. The rest is coming.


We Floridians get defensive about fall in the face of Northern fall aggression.

There are no colorful leaves. No brisk wind blowing chimney smoke around. No need for flannel, or down or wool.

If you want a chill, be prepared to write FPL a bigger check. Tropical waves are still billowing up from the Gulf and the Cape Verde Islands are still birthing alarming low pressure systems. The weekly mowing hasn’t slowed.

By some standards, that’s faux fall.

In Florida, our plants and our weather are boisterously confrontational, but the seasonal changes are milquetoasts.

To see them, you must be attuned to nuance.

Like the light.

When it changes, that’s a Florida fall.

In the weeks to come, we’ll have more dry mornings, with a fresh breeze at dawn before the heat takes over. Quivers of high-flying birds have already begun winging overhead heading thousands of miles to the south, to Central America or the Southern Caribbean, some dropping down to our yards for a night or two.

That’s a Florida fall, too.

One night, we realize we can sit outside and not sweat through our clothes. Not long after that, we realized the pool is too cool for our thin tropical blood.

That too, is a Florida fall.

We search, usually in vain, for summer clothes in darker winter colors. And gaze longingly at boots. That’s the frustrating fashion version of a Florida fall.

But soon boots won’t feel quite so ridiculous.

The median end of the rainy season in South Florida is Oct. 17, according to the National Weather Service.

That’s the big seasonal switch that turns on a Florida fall.

Not yet, but soon.

In the next few weeks, a cold front will likely make its first stab at the peninsula. The first few don’t usually push far enough south to comfort us, but soon.

Weak early fall cold fronts seem to batter against the stubborn steamy heat until one with a little more oomph finally pushes past the Keys.

That’s a Florida fall.


NASA releases video of 3 hurricanes from space

Cameras outside the International Space Station captured dramatic footage of three hurricanes churning through the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

In a video released by NASA, Hurricane Gaston can be seen in the Atlantic Ocean, along with Hurricanes Lester and Madeline in the Pacific. Time-lapse video of the hurricanes, taken 257 miles above the Earth, shows the eye of each storm and white clouds wrapping around the center of the storm.

>> Read more trending stories  

Gaston was weakening but could impact the Azores as a tropical storm this weekend.

A hurricane watch for Lester was issued Thursday for the Big Island and Maui County.

Madeline was downgraded to a tropical storm on Wednesday.

Lightning strike destroys Prius on highway

A man driving down an Oklahoma highway got the shock of his life.

His car was struck by lightning on the Will Rogers Turnpike in Catoosa, Oklahoma, the Claremore Daily Progress reported.

>> Read more trending stories  

The strike ended up destroying the 2016 Toyota Prius.

Posted by Claremore Daily Progress on Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Fire officials responded to a call of an ambulance request. When they got there, they found smoke coming from beneath the hood of the hybrid car. 

The vehicle then caught fire. The car's passengers said there had been a loud noise and that lightning had hit their vehicle. The driver maintained control, but officials said he was shaken up after the lightning strike.

Devastating photos show aftermath of deadly Italian earthquake

A deadly earthquake struck central Italy on Wednesday, killing dozens and reducing buildings to rubble, according to Italian media.

>> PHOTOS: Deadly earthquake leaves Italian town in ruins

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake, centered about 105 miles northeast of Rome, had a magnitude of 6.2, while Italy's geological service said it had a magnitude of 6.0, according to The Associated Press.

>> Read more trending stories

One mayor said his entire town was left in ruins.

"The town isn't here anymore," said Sergio Pirozzi, mayor of Amatrice.

Read more here.

>> Click here or scroll down to see heartbreaking photos from the scene

<iframe src="//;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe><script src="//;border=false"></script>[View the story "Strong earthquake hits central Italy" on Storify]

Is Obama's delayed visit to Louisiana unusual?

"Where's President Obama, you ask? Well, he is on the golf course," Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo said.

"He is unlikely to cut short his New England vacation to see all these floodwaters affecting communities like this one," CBS reporter Manuel Bojorquez said.

"Honestly, Obama ought to get off the course and get down there," Donald Trump told supporters at a campaign event. 

After days of criticism, President Barack Obama visited Louisiana on Tuesday to survey the damage from the devastating floods that have ravaged Baton Rouge. 

>> Read more trending stories  

Obama didn't cut his vacation on Martha's Vineyard short to make the trip, and the images of him playing golf while water rescues continued weren't well-received.

Trump visited Louisiana last week, though his campaign reportedly hadn't notified Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards. Edwards warned Trump not to use the trip as a photo opportunity. 

Trump and his campaign did appear to help in relief efforts and made a donation, and Edwards praised him in return. 

Edwards told CNN he asked the president to hold off on visiting. 

"I didn't want to divert these police officers, sheriff's deputies and state troopers and other essential resources and assets to providing security for the president while they were needed in this region," Edwards said.

That's said to be the same reason President George W. Bush flew over New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina instead of stopping there on his way back to the White House from his vacation. Unlike Obama, Bush did cut his vacation short, though he was still heavily criticized for a slow response.  

Hurricane Katrina hit Aug. 29, 2005. Bush flew back to Washington, D.C., on Aug. 31. He traveled to the Gulf Coast on Sept. 2.

One adviser told The Washington Post that Coast Guard helicopters would have been needed to make a stop possible. He said, "Those same helicopters ... would have been pulling people off rooftops."

Nearly 2,000 people died in Hurricane Katrina. By comparison, 13 have died in the most recent Louisiana flooding. 

As The Washington Post points out, it's not uncommon for a president to hold off on visiting a devastated area.

At the mayor's request, Obama held off on visiting New York City for about two weeks following Hurricane Sandy. He visited New Jersey two days after the hurricane hit. 

Obama waited nearly a week to visit Moore, Oklahoma, after a tornado killed 24 people in 2013.

An explosion on the Deep Water Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, led to the nation's worst oil spill. It took days for experts to realize the extent of the leak. Obama first visited the region about two weeks later. 

So yes, the president has waited longer to visit Louisiana than he has other areas hit by disasters, but not that much longer.

Kirstie Alley criticizes President Obama for response to Louisiana floods

Actress Kirstie Alley set Twitter ablaze on Friday with statements criticizing President Barack Obama's responses to the recent flood crisis in Louisiana.

"On a golf course in Martha’s Vineyard instead of in Louisiana?" she tweeted, along with a Fox News video clip of Obama taking a jab at President George W. Bush for his response to Hurricane Katrina in 2008.

Alley, who has voiced support for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, entered a heated debate with social media users, saying the president should have "slipped in" to Louisiana or scheduled an "on-air plea."

A Twitter firestorm of people voicing their stances on Alley's statement ensued immediately after.

>> Read more trending stories  

"Do you really think POTUS can 'slip into' a city? You're smarter than that," one Twitter user responded.

Social media users also quickly jumped in to compare and contrast the 43rd and 44th presidents' responses to both natural disasters. Alley seemed to backtrack when she criticized Bush's response to Katrina as well.

"I thought Bush waited too long also! I was in Katrina on day 5 & I'm just a gorgeous actress. THEY needed HELP! I didn't need an invitation,” she tweeted.

The White House said Friday that Obama plans to travel to Baton Rouge on Tuesday.

Why is flooding in Louisiana being ignored?

A disastrous flood began wreaking havoc in Louisiana two weeks ago.

Downpours dumped up to 30 inches of rain in some areas.

The floodwaters have damaged tens of thousands of homes, leaving many residents stranded or homeless.

More than a dozen people have been killed.

The Red Cross have called the disaster "the worst to hit the United States since Superstorm Sandy."

But just by looking at national media coverage, you might not know it's even happening.

Many people noticed several major news outlets had failed to put even one story about the flooding on their home pages when it was at its worst over the weekend.

>> Read more trending stories 

President Barack Obama signed a major disaster declaration on Aug. 14, but as of Thursday morning, he had yet to make a public address, like he did with Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

The White House said Friday that Obama plans to travel to Baton Rouge on Tuesday.

As for other major politicians, as of Thursday, Hillary Clinton had mentioned the floods once in a tweet.

Donald Trump had said nothing until Friday, when he toured the flood-stricken regions of the state, spoke to people affected by the disaster and helped hand out relief supplies.

So why does it seem like no one is treating the flooding in Louisiana for what it truly is -- a disaster?

Officials in Louisiana have a few ideas.

"When you have a storm that is unnamed, it wasn't a tropical storm and it wasn't a hurricane, a lot of times people underestimate the impact it would have. But this is historic," Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards told reporters.

And a rep for the Federal Emergency Management Agency said, "You had the Olympics, you've got the election, and if you looked at the national news, you're probably only on the third or fourth page."

The Red Cross has estimated it will cost at least $30 million to repair the devastation in Louisiana once the floodwaters recede. The organization is encouraging donations.

Dramatic videos show how Louisiana's historic floods have devastated communities

Historic floods have hit southern Louisiana, leaving tens of thousands in shelters, 40,000 homes destroyed and at least 13 dead.

>> PHOTOS: Thousands rescued from 'historic' Louisiana floods

Caskets have been seen floating down streets.

>> Caskets float down Louisiana streets after historic floods

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has classified the flooding as a once-in-every-500-years event.

>> Louisiana flooding: What is a 500-year flood and why is it happening so much?

Amid the devastation, there have been glimpses of humanity.

>> Read more trending stories

Frank Relle wrote on Facebook:

"I went out to the flooded areas yesterday because I have a boat and I thought I could help. I found without proper planning, good information and coordination with local government agencies my efforts like those of countless other rescue boats ended in frustration and disaster sight seeing that put ourselves as rescuers in harms way. It’s tough wanting to help so badly and not really being prepared to do so. The destruction to people’s property was mind boggling but the overwhelmingly positive human spirit and desire to help others made a bigger impact on me. Today I’ve tried to organize and share information for rescue efforts. I hope it did some good and hope everyone who is still struggling with this crisis finds peace and some security soon. ‪#‎laflood‬ thanks @mahyowie for always being up for anything."

>> Click here or scroll down to see the videos

<iframe src="//;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe><script src="//;border=false"></script>[View the story "Dramatic videos show how Louisiana's historic floods have devastated communities" on Storify]

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