The great thing about getting hit by a tropical storm or hurricane in Maine, aside from the fact that it almost never happens, is that you can see it coming about a week in advance. So there’s plenty of time to prepare. Or not.

Maine’s hurricane history is not very impressive from a standpoint of human misery. In a nutshell, we’re hard to hit. Even if we start out in the dead center of the extrapolated weather model for the latest Caribbean storm, a direct hit, hooking around the other twelve-and-a-half former American colonies like a well-thrown bowling ball, is highly unlikely. What we usually get is some dramatic wind and rain.

Decent weather forecasting has probably reduced the number of injuries and deaths from hurricanes over the years, though even the most deadly hurricanes Maine has experienced in the past century, Carol and Edna, which hit Maine within a span of two weeks, are reported to have collectively caused only 11 deaths.

That was in 1954, the year the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started keeping data on automobile fatalities (Maine had 161 last year). It was also the year Al Roker was born.

His predecessors, the first TV weathermen, used chalkboards or maps covered in glass to allow for the easy removal of meteorological symbols rendered in marker. Weather forecasting itself wasn’t especially new, but the dissemination of national weather reports by television was less than a decade old.

It all seems a far cry from the information we have at our fingertips today: instant access to satellite images showing the projected path of the hurricane or tropical storm, live video feeds that show southern latitudes being whipped, buffeted, flooded, etc. in real time.

The new technology feels empowering, and in areas where evacuations often prove necessary — think here of the sandy dunes of North Carolina’s Outer Banks — death tolls from hurricanes have undoubtedly declined due to advances in weather forecasting (Hurricane Katrina being a notable exception).

The more than 4,000 deaths reported in Florida and the Caribbean islands as a result of the Okeechobee hurricane of 1928, for example, seem unthinkable in our modern era.

But in places like Maine, the wind starts blowing and we take cover. If it’s coming our way, it’s coming our way. Which is to say, most Mainers seem to be content with taking a few appropriate basic precautions and keeping an eye out for our neighbors. What else should we do — buy every last battery for sale everywhere? Sure. Flip over the lawn furniture? Yes, please.

Hurricane Irene was originally predicted to hit Maine as a big tropical storm with sustained winds between 35 and 73 mph, and many of us stayed glued to our seats as it made a slow crawl up the coast. The rest we know, but was the storm over-hyped?

According to New York Times blogger Nate Silver, who did an exhaustive comparison of the number of news stories leading up to this storm as compared with those written during past hurricanes — and taking into account the intensity and resulting damage — the coverage was typical of other storms. Meaning, we didn’t get it as bad as was initially predicted, but maybe we could have.

While the chances of being killed or injured as the result of a hurricane or tropical storm in Maine are probably similar to the chances of being struck by … well, here’s a relevant excerpt from the state’s website on that esteemed yardstick of improbability, the lightning strike:

“… the nationwide odds of being killed or injured by lightning are estimated to be about 1 in 400,000 for each year of your life. Assuming a life span of 80 years, that’s lifetime odds of more than 1 in 5000. Keep in mind, though, that your behavior around thunderstorms will determine your individual odds …”

Enough said.