As I write Key West has winds well above 70 miles per hour teetering on sustained and a Category One hurricane, which if it were to get no stronger would be not that bad. Sure there are trees down and power lines torn up and so forth nut this storm has so much more to give. And the thing is it's not moving very fast at all, six miles n hour they say. The waters of the Straits of Florida are warm and all these factors lead some forecasters to predict landfall somewhere near Big Coppitt as a Category Four.
Or maybe not. These storms are nothing if not changeable and forecasters have the devil's own job keeping ahead of them. Sitting in the communications center at Key West PD the wind outside make you glad to be indoors and not to be someone's forgotten pet or abandoned stray. The thing about hurricanes that impresses me is their relentless natures. Sometimes in a rain storm you can catch a break, a pause in the action. Wait long enough and the rain will stop. Here it's been windy and raining steadily for seven hours with lots more to come. No pauses.
It's difficult to describe living through a hurricane in the police station. I always work night shift so I am generally looking out into darkness and maybe because the storm creates its own myth or perhaps because the power tends to go out(!) it always looks extra menacing and dark out there. You can hear the rumbling of wind hitting the building and the rain slashing on the windows and palm fronds and it creates a feeling of being in a bubble like a spaceship surrounded by hostile alien atmospheres outside.
I am not given to these flights of fancy but the abrupt contrast between the daily routines inside and the chaos outside is startling. You can get up and step away from your desk, heat some food, wash some dishes and walk back and its still there the wind pushing against the building and struggling to get inside and ruin your night. Inside the spaceship you watch the rain slashing horizontally with total detachment not allowing yourself to feel the threat.
I cannot imagine how the people around Varadero the Cuban tourist paradise must be feeling with this storm never moving away. Exhaustion is setting in on this side of the Straits and I wish Irma would get on with it and go away. As of midnight it seems like we will have another dozen hours of wind and rain and cold prying storm fingers trying to find their way into our serene work bubble we call the police station.