Remember Hurricane Hazel drenching the Northeast? Was that 1953 or 1954? Well, now it's easy to find out, thanks to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Historical Hurricane Tracks Web site.
It's a detailed site that requires an up-to-date Web browser, but once there visitors can search 150 years of Atlantic hurricanes and 50 years of their Pacific cousins by storm name, ZIP code, place name and even latitude and longitude.
"As growth on our shores continues unabated, the need for people who live and work on or near the coast to be prepared for hurricanes and tropical storms becomes even more urgent,'' said David L. Johnson, director of the National Weather Service.
"Information contained in this site can help emergency managers and other officials prepare hazard awareness campaigns, risk assessments, evacuation plans and other measures to protect lives,'' he said in a statement.
Margaret Davidson, director of the NOAA Coastal Services Center, pointed out that "by looking at the site's population graphs, you can see that major hurricane activity has been relatively light in the past 40 years, while the population along the coast has increased dramatically in many areas.''
For the record, there have been two Hurricanes named Hazel that hit the United States, arriving in 1953 and 1954.
The first one crossed Florida and went out to sea, while the Hazel a year later slammed into the Carolinas and went due north to drench upstate New York and much of the Northeast.
There was also a Hazel in 1965, but it was in the Pacific and came ashore on the west coast of Mexico.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)