John Furie Zacharias
having a bad day in a strange place
Thunderstorms Anywhere

Thunderstorms in the Imajica

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Sunday, September 26, 2004
Hurricane Jeanne Hits Florida

Hurricane Jeanne hit the Florida coast a little before midnight about the same place where hurricane Frances made landfall.

[0100 hrs] I made an animated GIF of Hurricane Jeanne Hitting Florida from NWS service radar images out of the Melbourne center.  I'll try to update this blog entry as long as I can stay online this morning.  Back to scurrying around the house.

[0300 hrs] I've been watching local WKMG TV weatherman, Tom Sorrells, all night.  You guys from the Detroit area may remember him.  I think his was on WDIV.  We've been in between feeder bands here, for about an hour now.  I took a quick-but-relaxing hot shower and shaved.  From my experience with the power outage from Frances, it could be days before we have hot water again.  The reports of power outages are moving north toward my area.

New hurricane drinking game rules: you not only have to do a shot when someone says, Hunker Down, but you also have to kiss the person next to you when someone says, Feeder Band, and remove an article of clothing when someone says, Eye Wall.  Well, now that you're drunk and we're both naked ... Muahahaha!  Okay, fine.  I'm getting dressed again.

The radar is pretty clear right now, but the sustained winds are picking up strength.  The current projected path of Jeanne is a straight line from Fort Pierce, on the Atlantic coast, straight through Disney and then turning north as it nears the gulf coast.  They're predicting Jeanne to still be a category 1 hurricane as the eye cuts through the southern part of our county, later this morning.

They're supposed to lift the curfew at 6am, but I guess that depends on whether they can safely patrol.  Local6 (WKMG) just showed six different traffic cams around Orlando and Orange county that showed absolutely no vehicles on any of the freeways.  Brevard county just had a report of a roof ripped off an elementary school used as a special needs shelter.  They had to evacuate 320 physically disabled people sheltered there to the community college.  That has to be just craptastic for those folks.  I'm back to scurrying around the house again.

[0500 hrs] I've been chilling out for the past two hours.  The worst of the hurricane is supposed to start around dawn and go into the afternoon in our area.  The sustained winds have been growing in strength and I think we're now in the constant rain event, too.  They're predicting 5-10 inches of rain.  Gusts are sounding a little unnerving but I haven't heard any loud crashes of branches or trees yet.  Power has been browning out and the winds have knocked the dialup connection offline multiple times.  If the power remains on after day break, I'm going to check out some web cam sites, but it's likely they could be down and offline from lack of power in their area.  Less scurrying now.  My evacuation gym bag is packed, but I think I'll likely just stay at home and deal with it.

[0700 hrs] Helleena got off to work okay. The weather is like one loooong, strong thunderstorm for several hours now.  Power flicked off, but (obviously) it's back on.  For how long?  The wind and rain are constant and getting more horizontal.  The gusts are gustier.  I'm hearing some thunks and clunks of some debris hitting things outside now.  I can't decide whether to stay awake and be quietly stressed out or just give in to fatigue, fall asleep, and wait for a crash-bang to wake me up to something exciting or important. 
  Battered but not beaten

[1700 hrs] Well, as you might have figured out, Jeanne made her way into my area and the power finally got knocked out this morning.  The weather people predicted the worst hurricane winds and rain were going to begin in my area around daybreak and go on all day as Jeanne made her turn north.  Since I'd been scurrying for the previous 24 hours, around 11am I just decided to ride out the brunt of the storm by sleeping through it.

Luckily, I wasn't stirred awake by any of Jeanne's crash-bangs.  Oddly, what woke me was the surreal digital female voice of the answering machine as it initialized itself when the power came back on.  I was more than just a little disoriented for a few minutes there.  Was I awake?  Check. Still at home?  Check.  Daylight?  Check.  Oh, now I remember ... there's a hurricane still raging outside.  Maybe I should put some clothes on and hobble around now?  Good idea.

Then the power winked back off.  Crap.  Somehow sensing I was awake, Helleena called her cell phone.  Her nursing home residents were a little frazzled, but everything was okay so far.  I explained that I had just woken up.  That is a code phrase that we both use with each other.  It means: Don't expect me to be coherent, or pleasant, or remember anything you tell me.  After a few minutes, I was awake enough to realize that I had neglected to make any coffee while the power had still been on last night and fill up my thermos pitcher.  Crap again.

[1900 hrs] Before it got dark, I decided I should do some recon and make a sitrep should Helleena call back before coming home later tonight.  I looked out the Florida room stormdoor and noticed the bright green plastic jack-o-lantern I had hung on the horizontal half of France's tree last week was MIA.  I wanted to look for it.  Branches were still falling out of the sky, though.

I also had an immediate obstacle to overcome.  The top of another tree was laying in front of the stormdoor.  We must have been in between feeder bands (kiss-kiss) because it wasn't raining, but the winds were absolutely howling through the trees.  Part of my open carport was a bit torn up from the treetop coming down.  I put on my bricklayer's hardhat, hacked up the treetop with my machete and hobbled the branches down to the empty lot next to me.

Now that I had cleared the door, my driveway, and the street in front of the house from branches, I hoped I could go look for my poor little missing jack-o-lantern.  Clearing the debris away reminded me of the many, many times I had to start at my door and dig through a foot of freshly fallen snow to make a path to the outside world in the Detroit area.  Putting the situation into that kind of perspective, combined with the knowledge that tomorrow will likely be a fairly typical and pleasant, 80-degree day, put me in a fairly happy and positive frame of mind.

As I was clearing the debris away, my positive mental attitude was rewarded.  The power came back on (and has stayed on so far).  With my hardhat on my head and my digital camera in my hand, I hopped into my HFD electric scooter chair and quickly ventured around my block.  I was glad to have thought of wearing my hardhat -- more of  the same treetop came down and blocked the road that I had just cleared in front of the house.  I nonetheless ventured out in the chair for a few minutes.  I took the battered flag photo, above.  Before I could make it around the little block though, a squall started dumping rain on me.  I scootered back home as fast as the chair would scoot, without finding my missing jack-o-lantern.

I hope to get out tomorrow and take some digital pix for your gawking pleasure.  One mobile home on the next street over from me, apparently owned by a snowbird and unoccupied at the moment, softened the landing of a huge tree.  It's completely crunched and destroyed.

[Headphones] :: You done lost your good thing now - B.B. King

Posted at 07:00 pm by John Furie Zacharias


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