Noah (big dog) and Nigel (little pup) are getting acquainted while we wait for Irma.
The hurricane is forecast to hit the Florida keys as a cat 5, with winds of 160 mph. However, the track has shifted farther to the west of Florida, with a landfall in the keys, then in southwest Florida. Ft Myers, Sarasota, Tampa. This is good news for the east coast of the state in that it won’t get the cat 5 winds. It means that Fort Lauderdale and parts of Miami are no longer in the “cone of uncertainty.” But the storm surge on both coasts is going to be huge.
Forecasters caution people not to focus on the exact track because Irma is so huge it will cover the entire state. BUT. And it’s a big BUT. The spot where the eye makes landfall is critical to everything. That area within the eye wall will experience the greatest winds and potential destruction.
I’m not a TV binge watcher. But in the last 3-4 days, I’ve become a binge hurricane track watcher. There has never been a storm like Irma – Andrew was as strong, but not as large. Andrew moved from west to east across the state in just 4 hours. Irma is traveling south to north and will take about 24 hours to traverse the state. Irma set a record for the longest period of time – 35 hours – that a hurricane has maintained a speed of 185 mph. With more than 5 million people evacuated, it’s being called the largest mass evacuation in Florida and possibly the largest evacuation in the history of the U.S.
Given how large this storm is and how far it’s going to push into the southeast – to Tennessee – getting back to normal is going to take time. A lot of it. It’s estimated that millions will lose power and it’s unlikely that it will return quickly. We downloaded an app called Zello Walkie-Talkie- and have tried it out with friends in Asheville, Orlando, and points farther south. Snopes says it doesn’t work without WiFi or broadband. That’s not exactly true. It will work with a minimum broadband signal. It was used in Houston and the aftermath of Harvey, so we’ll see how it performs during this storm.
Tomorrow we wind up our preparations. Close up the last few shutters, make sure backup batteries are fully charged, that our supplies are situated at various spots in the house. We have a safe area – the back bedroom and bathroom of the house – and my walk-in closet. All the art and travel memorabilia that decorated our walls has been wrapped up in plastic garbage bags, taped shut, and stashed in high, safe spots. We have a generator for the aftermath, gas in our cars, propane for the grill, food, ice, coolers, and more than 100 bottles of water.
So, tomorrow by noon, outer bands of tropical storm force winds move in. After that, my hope is that the track moves farther west and out into the gulf, where Irma, a sentient beast, dies.