Writer’s Note.. I won’t be upset if you don’t read. It is really quite lengthy
Stormy Weather….. Friday Afternoon..3:30 EDT
This week’s post will be ongoing and yes, late. We are here in sunny south Florida about to get the crap kicked out of us by a nasty woman named Irma. I am going to try to relate thoughts and feelings which heretofore I have been relegated to as a spectator on the evening news. I am now a participant.
We have been casting a wary eye since Tuesday or Wednesday. It is a geography lesson on everything from the West coast of Africa to Barbuda, the Virgin Islands and finally the Bahamas before landfall in Florida. As she picks up speed and force it is almost unfair to give here a name to be hated. It is nature both at it worst and most beautiful.
The confluences of storm tracks and Bermuda highs as well as lows over the Gulf are almost alchemy. When we throw brickbats at the weather services for missing a forecast it is quite fascinating to see that the difference between a direct hit or a glancing blow can be a matter of hours. The Perfect Storm was an apt title of a thrilling movie and the ferocity is the same. Mother Nature does not like to be told what to do.
About 48 hours from touchdown it is a lovely day here. The sun is shining and we went out to lunch for the simple reason we may not poke our heads out for a few days. The food stores are still crowded but all will close today at 8:00 PM. The roads are pretty deserted and all the plywood and metal shutters everywhere are a tad disconcerting. I know it is serious but you still wonder if people are going over the top?
There is nothing else on the TV and you wind up shutting it off. Each station tries to whip their viewers into a frenzy and the public dutifully plays their part. Worried looks and wringing hands are everywhere. It may sell ad space but I am not sure how much of the public service there is. I have relaxation music on the Sonos. Appropriately it is the theme from “Out of Africa”.
As a lad on Long Island I got to see hurricanes but never quite so up close and personal as in the Navy. My first ship was experimental as a prototype of the Garcia Class destroyer escort. We tested everything from sonar to weapons systems to anemometers that would go on later ships. We encountered a Stage 3 off Puerto Rico but rather than dashing to a lee they wanted us to sit in the Southwest quadrant for awhile. Kind of put that baby through its paces.
Foolishly I went up to the flying bridge for a look see. Mind you this is five or six stories above sea level and even that high the waves crashing over the bow got this Ensign well doused. In Nam we transited the Gulf of Siam in a fifty foot Swift Boat during some sort of typhoon. 18-20 seas will get your attention when in the pilot house. At one moment you are staring at a wall of water in front of you and in the next you are surfing down the back side of a wave. In all honesty you don’t fear the sea and nature as much as respect it. That’s where Kathy and I are now. Electricity is on and I will check in later.
Saturday 4:00 PM
The lovely Irma has slowed down from a swift pace to a much more measured stride. She is hitting more populous areas south of us and almost wants to strut her stuff. The track is the most beguiling part of her route. The storm has moved slightly to the West which is more of opposing forces operating. The Bermuda high might be stronger or the Gulf of Mexico lower might be weaker and this determines the cone so to speak. Really fascinating stuff.
The data for all this is suppled by radar but moreso by the Hurricane Hunters. Several are Lockheed turbo props that go on six hour roller coaster rides. They are chock full of radar and instruments. They zig and zag in and out of the storm and its eye, dropping tubes to measure wind speed, temperature and barometric pressure. They are operated by NOAA and the Air Force. They operate out of Georgia because their old base in Georgia was destroyed by, you guessed it, a hurricane.
We won’t see huge winds until tomorrow but it is raining at a pretty good clip now punctuated by a bolt of lightening or a large clap of thunder here and there. As I look out over the lake in back of our house I can still see an egret across the way poking around and looking for food. Where does he or she and the other members of our ecosystem go when all hell breaks loose? Is their evacuation route I95 or the Turnpike? They have lasted through these things a lot longer than we have.
The lights are still on but that is probably just matter of time. I hope failure waits until after the Notre Dame game tonight. They say 5 million people could get their power cut off. Amazingly Florida Power and Light has brought in 13,000 personnel and their trucks from surrounding states. They are being strategically placed throughout the area to try to get things back up and running as soon as possible. What do you think the bill is on that?
The storm itself cuts a swath of almost 500 miles. The entire state of Colorado is 500 miles wide. Florida is only 135 miles in width.Quite an occurrence. A good portion of the state has elevations of less than 10 feet so when you see storm surges of 10-15 feet you get the picture. Unfortunately because of the climate and geography there are more than a few trailer parks. Nothing to do but hang on and hope.
We are in a voluntary evacuation mode which Kathy is dying to comply with so she is no longer trapped with yours truly. Fugeddaboutit! See you later.
Sunday 8:00 PM
The day dawned after several forays through the night to check and make sure there were no window or door leakages. I love my sleep and that was not my favorite chore.Earlier, I cursed the TV because hurricane coverage superseded football games. Glad I missed them. The Irish tanked. Funny how you take things for granted. This storm is off the charts. The winds extend out 250 miles on either side. As I mentioned that is the width of Colorado. We had 40-50 knots throughout the day and we just peaked at 80-90. Tornado warnings kept going off on our phones to a point where you wanted to disregard them. Then that dark cloud and an accompanying rain blew across the lake and you took heed.
Incredible on the TV were the idiots. There was a guy on a Jet Ski who was darting in and out of the inlet to the ocean. Of course the TVs were covering him. At Key West during Irma’s landfall there was a moron on a bicycle at the monument delineating the southern most point in the United States. Of course they were showing him. Countless people put themselves at risk and of course expecting someone to rescue them.These are our fellow travelers.
I take back what I said earlier about non stop TV coverage. These people were on all night giving info. To be in the path of a tornado is somewhat disconcerting.To at least be able to see its path is in a strange way reassuring. People called or texted all day because the eye had gone west. “Man you guys dodged a bullet.” Yes, we did but the shrapnel also got our attention. I keep going back to living an experience rather than watching it on the telly. Ever present was the thought that those people on the West coast were at ground zero.
I have to go back to preparedness.I am new here. There is a lot of protocol and practice in place. They don’t ask, they don’t plead, they lay it on the line. I understand this Governor Scott is under fire from many fronts. I have to tell you in watching him present and being present all over the state he wins points in my book. I am sure some will disagree.
The psychological aspect is intriguing. You encounter a burst of thunder, lightening, rain and wind and it abates. Ha, that is over. Then wham, that baby rears its ugly head all over again. You experience 50 knot winds and it grabs your attention. Then it becomes routine after an hour. Then it goes up to 65-70 and you go through the same drill. That’s got to be the crest and sure enough the next one tops that. When the crap will this slow down and head the other way? Then the total absurdity when 80 knots feels better than 90. You hear a noise. Is that normal like branch going scraping across your roof or is the that a tile cutting loose that provides a foothold for this bitch to rip your roof off? It is funny that you don’t worry about your house structurally but the idea of your roof flying off is real.
I won’t bore you any more with my incessant ruminating but as in all things we learn lessons. I have kept residents who are away from here updated as to conditions. I label myself the Hippy Dippy Weatherman. I have taken great license with both my boundaries and my text. I have had fun in the middle of a somewhat concerning event. I do so simply because it is one of those things in life that I have absolutely no control over. The storm zigs and zags as is its want. I can curse it and defy it but I can’t change it in any way. That is both frustrating and humanizing in this techno world.
This has sent me awareness and perhaps a touch of vulnerability. The world around is no longer just noticed but studied in all aspects. This causes this and that and then the result is something else entirely. Being is this community really brings people together, checking on one another. A nice feeling. Not just blithely going down life’s highway but being a part of it. Also no matter how big or how strong or smart, you are a poor competitor for Mother Nature. About all money can do is get you a plane out of here. Personal safety trumps possessions every time.
If you made it this far thanks for sharing the ride. Will get back to “Pondering the Imponderables” at the end of the week or maybe next. When the lights come on I may just make a cup of coffee, curl up and read a book. Sounds like a plan.
Ted The Great
Ted The Great played golf by himself on Thursday. Couldn’t find anybody to go with me. As luck would have it on the fourth hole, a par three, I took out my seven iron and struck the ball. Into the cup for a hole in one with no witnesses! Sure, sure TTG It’s a fact!
Hurricane Andrew (1992) ripped an 80-foot steel beam weighing several tons off a building and flung it more than a block away. With 210 mile-per-hour winds at landfall, Hurricane Camille (1969) is the strongest hurricane to strike land. Typhoon Tip (1979), which did not strike land, is considered to be the largest, with tropical storm-force winds 1,350 miles in diameter.
A single hurricane stirs up millions of miles of air and can dump more than 2.4 trillion gallons (9 trillion liters) of rain a day.Hurricanes produce enough energy in one day to run the lights of Las Vegas for many years.Earthquakes outnumber hurricanes. According to NASA, approximately 85 hurricanes, typhoons, and tropical cyclones occur worldwide each year. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there are 500,000 detectable earthquakes in the world each year, with 100,000 strong enough to be felt and 100 of them strong enough to cause damage
Although hurricanes can cause terrible damage, they are an important part of Earth’s complicated weather system. Like giant fans, they take hot air from the tropics and move it toward the poles. They help balance temperatures and moisture around the Earth. Without hurricanes and other storms, vast areas of the planet would be too hot for animal and human life.
A hole in one and no witnesses! Sheez, that stinks. I think that may have been a harbinger of good luck that ensued with escaping the storm with little drama in your neck of the woods. I, too, have admired Gov. Scott’s leadership throughout all of this. Glad to hear that you both are doing well and that the cleanup is mostly minor stuff.
nice to get a different perspective of the storm living through Camille when I was in High School and Betsy when I was in College and of course the 100 year storm Katrina makes me respect Mother Nature. In treating to hear a “purpose ” for them. Hoya Saxa