Friday, August 24, 2012

Hurricane Preparations - Tropical Storm Watch

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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Summer's Over, But Not In Key West

Motorcyclists Up North lament the impending departure of summer. There is a slight twinge in the air they write as they anxiously scan for yellowing leaves, a sure sign of Fall to come. We've got toms of yellowing palm fronds down here.




The water is hot off Smather's Beach so water sports close to sea level are not likely to freeze anyone's blood.




The winds this summer never quite quit like they were supposed to. It's been lovely ashore with a fresh breeze to cool things off. Up North drought wildfires and apocalypse have marked the summer of 2012.




Down here in Sodom we've had a lovely serene summer thanks. Perhaps we have finally incurred God's displeasure because now we face getting whacked by a hurricane but I'm sure we'll manage. I liked this ad on Smather's Beach where the speed limit is 30mph:




It's actually paid for by foot doctors encouraging athletes to perform better if the spend money on medical care. Some people show no signs of requiring medical treatment, they just lay out in the sun and risk melanoma.




Others need AA desperately but instead they sleep in public when it is permitted and take cover at night when it isn't, oddly enough.



Smather's Beach has it's resident bums as does Rest Beach,





...while at Higgs Bach they have allocated parking, as it were:




It has been a summer filled with tourism. The economy may be as bad as you like but they keep coming:



The heat is enough to keep the pigeons in the shade too.





I felt compelled to stop the Bonneville and the views across the water. It's hot and sticky but I would have it no other way. Dry heat means nothing to me except straw-like hair and cracked finger nails.




I parked the Bonneville near the rest rooms and remembered my camera this time. The coral rock structure is strangely open to the elements which works in it's favor as a fresh breeze though here keeps the smells sanitary.




This is the direction facing our potential hurricane in the next few days. It looks peaceful enough right now.



Fall in Key West means more people, crowds and full bike racks.





These are the proverbial dog days of summer, lovely and warm and sunny, and yellow leaves are just a sign of the palms doing their constant self renewal, not a seasonal change.


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