Tuesday, 2:56 p.m.
All right, so Tropical Storm Wilma was given hurricane status a couple of hours ago. That makes it the twelfth hurricane of the year (tying a record) and the 21st named storm — tying another record. (But it gets a little complicated because the old record, which dates to 1933, pre-dates the storm-naming convention by 20 years. Had there been a naming scheme in place in 1933, 21 storms would have qualified.)
There’s a bit of symbolism here: they’re out of names. They never assigned names to the rest of the alphabet because there aren’t a lot of names that begin with "X." If there’s a 22nd storm, they’ll go to the Greek alphabet: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, etc. It could happen; sea-surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico remain unusually high.
So in the next week you can expect two things:
1) that Wilma will make landfall somewhere in the Gulf, maybe Florida, maybe not; and
2) that regardless, it’s worth bracing for another hit at the gas pump.
The head of the Energy Information Administration was on Capitol Hill this morning, pointing out that with 10 percent of America’s refining capacity still offline after Katrina and Rita, energy prices are vulnerable.