Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tropical Storm Isaac, Saturday Evening

It's been a rainy, windy day culminating is a breezy night, the streets of the city are shiny with moisture, and if you didn't know the tropical storm is starting it's final approach you'd have no idea there was anything going on other than a common-or-garden summer thunderstorm. Other than the hurricane shutters on all the buildings and the commercial clean-up crews standing by.
On the drive in to work at ten o'clock I saw lots of cars parading around with their fog lights on, as though the light rain were some sort of portent of the high winds to come. Better that than the usual practice of people choosing to drive in the dark or the rain with no lights at all.
Downtown Key West is half a ghost town, the bars open and empty, a few people hurrying along the sidewalks. Tonight is apparently the night for hurricane parties. Tropical storm force winds, around 40mph are expected Sunday morning, with hurricane strength by Sunday evening. All finished by Monday evening we hope as Isaac goes off up the Gulf to damage to the heathen on the Gulf Coast. How strong our storm will be depends on how much strength the storm gains now that it is off Cuba and over warm waters. that it drives forward at 22mph is good for us as that helps keep the circulating winds from gaining in intensity. A least a bit. We keep hoping for the best.And that is the latest track put out by the Hurricane center in Miami.

Isaac And The Florida Keys

Another day another hurricane advisory and the news is not improving. Twenty four hours ago it looked like this storm might be little more than a damp squib, rain and wind and nothing too excessive. Things have changed.


I woke up this morning with a sinking feeling when I checked the five o'clock update. I expected to see a nice solid path over Cuba's mountains, the Sierra Maestra, and instead the National Hurricane Center is projecting a path off the north coast of Cuba, right up the warm waters of the Old Bahamas Channel, which should help the storm to strengthen nicely.


So I got my storm shutters out and started screwing them in place. I put my potted plants into the best protected spots I could and everything not nailed down I hid in the sheds. Our outside furniture we moved into the living room.


With Cheyenne on her bed to guard it. She's none too happy about all the kerfuffle.


Rain alternated with wind all morning and I soldiered on getting wet and wind blown as I screwed in the shutters. The idea is the aluminum panels will prevent flying debris, like coconuts, from smashing the windows.


I inherited the best possible shutters from the previous owner and they slide into the lip at the top and screw in at the bottom. It takes me about an hour to install all the shutters on my 800 square root house.


Up and down my street homes are now shuttered and many of them are owned by snowbirds who keep contracts with gardeners and handymen who agree to look after homes for absentee owners.


So far the predictions call for a category one hurricane though the problem is that hurricanes can slow their forward motion and increase their circulating strength.


My problem is that as of tonight I'm locked down at work and whatever preparations I make have to be good enough for whatever may happen.


My wife and Cheyenne are staying at home for this storm with the company of a friend. I will try not to worry while I am at work. Local officials haven't issued an evacuation order yet and now it's probably getting too late as storm force winds are expected in the morning. In the past the tourist industry got seriously annoyed with evacuation orders which they said killed the flow of money to the islands. So this year the evacuation orders haven't been coming fast and furious as in years past. Officials are advising those with the means to leave to go home and those that stay to stay indoors. The airlines are adding flights to help get people out of Key West.
It will be interesting to see how this new method of non evacuation works out. Somebody always ends up blaming somebody else after the fact.


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Hurricane Warning



The National Hurricane Center in Miami has issued a hurricane warning for the Florida Keys which is defined thus on their website:

A HURRICANE WARNING MEANS THAT HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED
SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE WARNING AREA. A WARNING IS TYPICALLY ISSUED
36 HOURS BEFORE THE ANTICIPATED FIRST OCCURRENCE OF TROPICAL STORM
FORCE WINDS...CONDITIONS THAT MAKE OUTSIDE PREPARATIONS DIFFICULT
OR DANGEROUS. PREPARATIONS TO PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY SHOULD BE
RUSHED TO COMPLETION.

This is rather annoying news because it seems Tropical Storm Isaac remained much more intact than expected while clipping the island of Hispaniola, and is thus stronger as it approaches Cuba. Furthermore the weather forecasters are estimating the cyclone will spend less time than originally estimated over Cuba and will likely lose less power...than originally estimated.


DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK
------------------------------
AT 500 AM EDT...0900 UTC...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM ISAAC WAS
LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 19.0 NORTH...LONGITUDE 73.3 WEST. ISAAC IS
MOVING TOWARD THE NORTHWEST NEAR 14 MPH...22 KM/H...AND A
WEST-NORTHWEST TO NORTHWEST MOTION IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE FOR THE
NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS WITH SOME INCREASE IN FORWARD SPEED. ON THE
FORECAST TRACK...THE CENTER OF ISAAC WILL MOVE NEAR OR OVER EASTERN
CUBA TODAY...AND MOVE NEAR THE NORTH COAST OF CUBA TONIGHT AND
APPROACH THE FLORIDA KEYS ON SUNDAY.

All of which means today is preparation day before I go in to work tonight and get locked down. It's a drag but at least so far it's only supposed to be a category one storm for us. Quite possibly much worse for the Gulf Coast. Bad for them better for us.


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Key West Bight

One purpose of walking endlessly round Key West and taking pictures is to remind myself of where I live. This picture with the sandcastle of the Steam Plant condos in the background and the frothy green palms in the foreground, put me in mind of somewhere exotic, possibly a desert oasis




This solitary loo brush shown below has featured here before but it is still worth seeing again flying proudly above the Coastguard station.




It was a lovely day down on the water but I was impaired by my struggle with a summer cold (a special word of thanks to the kind soul that donated it to me) and I was rendered weak by the heat.




I sat on the wooden planking in the shade of the old warehouse on the Chevron dock and watched the world go by on a summer afternoon.




The flags above were flying from a fairly large sailboat. The second flag from the top I recognized as the pennant of an associate member of the Seven Seas Cruising Association. It's a loose grouping of people who like to travel by sail and their full members "Admirals" have red pennants and vote at meetings.




Above I could see the fast cat ferry to Fort Myers Beach waiting for it's evening departure while below the lightweight frames of white dagger boards on a private catamaran caught my eye. The boards are hollow to save weight. Which probably means the rest of the boat is devoted to speed not comfort, which is a drag I think.




The older wooden schooner Hindu looks more like what a landsman might expect a boat to look like, all varnish and brass. That's a lot of work to keep up, not to my taste either though I have enjoyed a sunset cruise on the Hindu, watching the crew work while I ate and drank.




This young person looked possibly like a disoriented superhero with a green cape, or a lost crew member looking for his berth, or a tourist wondering where the bars are.



The waterborne commute:




The pause that refreshes:




A conversation about boats:




An 18th century piece of headgear, truly piratical I suspect:




Refreshment afloat?





Another one looking for a berth, this or with a red ditty bag.



Homeward bound:




Whitewash, blue water, green palms and boats.





Just the scenery to refresh a tired coughing hack, with a tired hacking cough.


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