The National Hurricane Center in Miami has just issued a Tropical Storm Watch for the Florida Keys with Tropical Storm Isaac yet to reach Cuba. That means sustained winds of 40mph are likely within 48 hours. Within that sustained wind strength local gusts are expected to be stronger and at this point that may be as bad as it gets, thanks to Isaac hitting Cuba head on and losing strength as it dumps rain across the island. Landmasses steal strength from cyclones as they need warm water to power their winds. Based on that Isaac looks like it might be more of a problem for Mobile, Alabama, than Key West.
It's a strange thing waiting for a hurricane especially when faced with a storm that appears to be weakening as it approaches. On the one had one has to prepare for the worst and on the other hand half your brain is reminding you this is all likely to be a waste of time. Rain and wind blew through in waves this morning, alternating with bright sunshine.
Any rain storm that happens to blow though suddenly becomes an advance taste of the impending hurricane. Perspective tends to get lost at these times. That the storm is currently hovering south of Port Au Prince doesn't seem to register when rain is lashing one's home. I have heard people describe these entirely normal downpours as "feeder bands" for the hurricane. Whatever.
On the other hand a regular summer downpour leaves many of these island communities half drowned and anyone who was here in 2005 remembers the drowning Hurricane Wilma inflicted. No loss of human life but thirty percent of Key West under water and ten thousand vehicles destroyed.
The drowning thing still worries people so we start to see cars parked on high ground, near the highway bridges.
In the hardware store on Summerland Key I overheard a customer talking with the owner and they were in agreement that this is good practice for "the real thing" whenever that might come. A potential category one storm around 74 mph sustained, hardly rates. Nevertheless... The Sheriff's department appropriates a high ground parking lot to preserve their cars for whatever might be coming:
At the Police Department employees are on "lockdown" as of Saturday evening which means after we go to work tomorrow we have to plan to stay at work until the storm situation is over. So we also have to plan for whatever storm might possibly hit, because if Isaac stalls over the Gulf Stream and powers up to say a major storm status I don't get a mulligan and a second chance to go home and take proper precautions. I have to go to work assuming the worst. My wife says the schools will be closed Monday and she is going to take Cheyenne and stay with friends. For a major storm she would evacuate about now but we are hoping for a category one or less...
Fuel tankers are dropping off fuel to feed the need of evacuees and locals filling tanks and jugs, just in case. Walking Cheyenne I met Linda this morning and she stopped her bicycle to lament her preparations. Her generator is leaking fuel, a broken hose I suggested about to offer help when she grimaced and said it's probably not going to be a big storm and she's sick of making preparations. Watermelon, lettuce and pre-ground coffee, my stick thin neighbor described her storm supplies. "Hurricanes without coffee are unbearable," she said as she peddled off.
Right now, except for the odd downpour, everything is serene and lovely. In twenty four hours everything may have changed. Or not. I wonder how many pairs of underwear I should pack for my lockdown at work?
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