Saturday, September 18, 2004

Cleaning Up

Still no cable here. At least we have power - on the other side of the street, they don't (but they did when it came back on Thursday - go figure. Maybe some of the clean-up efforts broke something (which would be real interesting, since, other than the main line coming into the subdivision - and it's not involved in this problem - all of our lines are underground.))

When I get my one-use cameras developed I'll post some of my Fort Walton Beach aftermath pictures, but until then take a look at what the Pensacola NewsJournal has posted. Absofreakinglutely incredible damage over that way (Pensacola and Gulf Shores). These pictures show why you have to have respect for Nature - Nature has no respect for you. Nature neither knows nor cares that you exist, and Nature will happily throw your car into your swimming pool (or your neighbor's - it's all the same to hundreds of thousands of gallons of Gulf of Mexico brine flowing along at several miles per hour). Your home can be a cardboard shack fixer-upper or a million-dollar bayou view - it doesn't really matter when wind and rain and wave team up. As bad as things are in parts of Okaloosa County, we're doing pretty well compared to Santa Rosa and Escambia.

Holy Sheet...

We're still here. Contact with "the outside world" may still be spotty - landlines have been intermittent, Nextel is either overloaded or "no service," and still no cable (TV or internet, at least here at the house). We lost power at approximately 2200 Wednesday night, and it came back on 22 hours later (absolutely incredible, considering that after Opal in '95 we didn't get power back for three days). I'll blog more about the Hurricane Ivan thrill ride we were on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, and about what I've seen so far in the aftermath, but now I'm gonna head back over to Shalimar and see what help I can provide there.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

A Big Night


I've been mentioned on Instapundit! Wooohoo! Glenn had a posting with a few hurricane-bloggers, and he updated it to include me! Daaaamn...

And now Jim Cantore is in FWB. His co-correspondent Janine Albert said they were a couple of miles inland. If they're where I think they are, just north of Highway 98 near the western FWB city limit, it ain't two miles - they might be a mile from the gulf, but maybe a few hundred yards from the sound. The WEAR weather guy was saying he thought he was picking up a little tilt to the right (east) in Ivan's track, which just serves as further proof that Cantore's a hurricane magnet.

Wind definitely kickin' some now - no funny creaking noises from the roof yet, like we had during Opal back in 1995, but it's still early. Several little flickers in the lights, but still no outright outage. I don't see any outage map on Gulf Power's site (not that it would do any good if my power was off, of course, but as a reference for media and folks out of the area it might be useful).

I'm going to try to grab a nap before the heavy stuff rolls in - supposed to be around 0200 or so. I may be out on the island tomorrow doing posse stuff, and I'll try to grab some pictures. From the wave reports (20, maybe 30, feet), Okaloosa Island and Destin may - no, make that are - getting nailed big-time. This is gonna be ugly, folks.

Have You Ever Seen The Rain?

The rain hasn't been much over summer thunderstorm levels here, at least not yet, but the wind is picking up. We're getting more-frequent and increasingly strong gusts as Ivan creeps slowly to the north. Power's holding up pretty well - a couple of mini-brownouts, I suppose you could say, but not enough to knock the 'puter offline. (For those who know the Fort Walton Beach area, I'm just off Mary Esther Cutoff, behind Sun Plaza.) We've been flipping between local info on WEAR TV Channel 3 (out of Pensacola) and
The Weather Channel. WEAR has had good live feed from a camera on top of one of the taller buildings in Penscola (the Grand Hotel), but now that it's dark it won't be very informative.

A Video Clip

Oooh, hurricane video blogging! I'm really movin' up now, eh? Click here for a 15-second .mpg I made out on the island (same time and place as the photo below).

Strike That Phrase, Please

Can we get rid of "hunker down," please? I know it fits the situation, but ohmigawd, with Charley, and Frances, and now Ivan, it's been beat into the ground. Every time I hear one of the weatherfolk say it, I get this image of that "Larry the cable guy" saying "Hunker down!" in the same way he says "Get 'er done!"

Looks Like It's On The Way...

Still no heavy rain - just a few sprinkles. Winds have kinda sorta picked up inland (I'm about a mile and a half north of the sound, a little over two miles from the gulf, with Santa Rosa Island [aka Okaloosa Island] between the sound and the gulf). The gulf itself, though, is another matter...

Gulf Of Mexico
Click for larger image. This is the Gulf of Mexico, from Highway 98 about a mile west of the Destin bridge, looking toward the southeast at approximately 0845 local.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Cantore - Italian for "Run Like Hell"?

So the wife and I go out for dinner, find Friday's is one of the few places still open (yeah, even at 7:30 this evening - McDonald's, Publix, the list of closed places is a long one). We sit down, and of course The Weather Channel is up on the big screen, and who do they show? Jim Cantore, of course - can't have a hurricane without him. Commentors on at least one of the other hurricane blogs (and I'll try to track down where I saw it, for proper attribution) have said that when this dude shows up it's time to run, that he has a knack for being in the places where the stuff hits the fan (that is, where the bigass hurricanes tear the snot out of the places they hit). Where's he reporting from? Freakin' Destin! Sandestin, to be specific. Well, that would put us here in FWB on the west a whole 20 miles. Still "ain't skeered" here, even with hurricane magnet Cantore just down the road.

So Far So Good (But Then, It's Still Early)

It's a nice summer day here, where the only out-of-the-ordinary thing weatherwise is the breeze being a little stronger and gustier than normal. This morning started out with a ragged overcast, but most of the day it's been partly cloudy. Had lunch with the wife, and noticed a lot of homes and businesses boarded up. There was a hefty line at the credit union, with people getting cash in preparation for hittin' the road. The guy in line behind me was talking to someone via cell, and he was saying he was going to leave but didn't know where he'd wind up - Jacksonville maybe. Sam's was no busier than a regular weekend, but Wal-Mart was - well, never mind Wal-Mart. The Fort Walton Beach store is pretty close to jammed at 10 PM on Tuesdays, so throwing a hurricane into the mix doesn't really add more to it! Gas stations were busy. No lines, but every pump was occupied. Still no sign of rain here - 60% chance my big toe, Weather Channel!

Monday, September 13, 2004

Fasten Your Seatbelts - It Could Be a Bumpy Week

We now have (as of National Hurricane Center Advisory 47) a hurricane watch up for the northern gulf coast, including good ol' Fort Walton Beach (and Destin, Pensacola, and so on and so forth). Still about two days out, so the current projected track with Ivan going right into Mobile Bay may change, intensity hard to predict, etc. Around the neighborhood you can (or could earlier) hear chainsaws (presumably folks getting some branches out of trees to lessen the wind load) and circular saws (presumably folks cutting plywood or OSB for window covers - I don't think anyone's worried about building bookcases right now!). There's a little breeze out, nothing much stronger than we get during a fall frontal passage, but there seems to be a hint of menace to it. Yeah yeah, anthropomorphosizing a hurricane is illogical, but still. We haven't had any significant tropical activity through here since Opal, so we'll see what develops. Oh, and I don't have to go into work in the morning, so I'll probably get to put a little update in in the AM.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Watchful Waiting

Isn't that what you call it while you wait for a situation to either clear up, or turn to poop? That's about the deal right now with Ivan and us Fort Walton Beach folks, I suppose. Eye of the Storm is doing his hurricane thing, and in the course of his research dug up a bit about Eglin AFB! Eglin's maybe ten miles east of here, as the storm-driven trashcan flies. Just drop into his page and scroll down a bit for some info on Eglin's hurricane history.

We'll be "watchfully waiting" here for a couple of days as the track develops. I don't mind taking a hit if it gives the Charley- and Frances-blasted areas a chance to recover, but man, maybe it's time to hope for some weakening here!

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Uh Oh...

I never really wrapped up my Frances-blogging, mostly because there wasn't anything to wrap up. If the rain I noticed was typical of the rest of Okaloosa County, I'd say our total rainfall from Frances would maybe fill a Dixie cup. The wind? Baaaahhh - we get more than that from a good summer thunderstorm. Now, though, we have Ivan, and it looks like it's gonna get interesting. Cat 5 and apparently decreasing pressure, with the dinky Cayman Islands in the way. Western Cuba probably won't present much of an impediment, and then there's nice warm Gulf of Mexico water to fuel the storm. Eye of the Storm is monitoring the situation as Ivan's threat envelope continues to bump over a little more to the west on each update. If that track holds we'll get nailed. At least those folks down south will catch a break. Christopher Baskind at is keeping a great list of Florida hurricane-bloggers (and thanks muchly for the link!).

Sunday, September 05, 2004

So Far So Good...

The slightly gusty breeze we had earlier today has dropped off to almost nothing here at the house, but along Highway 98 in Fort Walton Beach, at least an hour ago, it was still a little windy. At the Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island, at approximately 7 PM local, the gulf was almost flat - definitely not the kind of conditions that attract surfers and cause the weather commentators to get all in a ball about how "it's not safe to be doing that!" The hurricane warning area is still only up to Destin (as of the 5 PM EDT update from the National Hurricane Center), so maybe we're going to be on the wimpy west side. Just about every time we've had a tropical system (storm or hurricane Cat 1 or 2) go in east of Destin, we've gotten nothin' over here. The local TV weatherpeople do their usual "We're on the good side, oh thank god," but you know they're really disappointed that they don't get to go out and squawk about roofs flying off of hotels and lean into the "howling" wind to show how strong it really is.

Headed This Way

I guess it's official when the weather folks extend the hurricane warnings to an area less than 20 miles from your home. Destin is now included in the warning area. I've found another Florida Panhandle blogger at, and there's a little hurricane-blogging going on there. Picked up a case of water at Sam's on Thursday, but unless Frances does a massive intensification (to Cat 3 or above), that'll be it for my storm prep. Well away from water here, so storm surge is no factor. Not near any creeks, rivers, or bayous, so not much flood hazard (and the ground here is so sandy I've never seen a puddle in the yard in the last 25 years).

Saturday, September 04, 2004

My First Hurricane-Blogging Attempt

Looks like ol' Frances is heading this way - eventually. It'd be nice to not have her screw up Monday - a little strengthening over the gulf and landfall for mid-day Tuesday would be fine (as long as Joanie Communist in our contracting office lets us scuzzball contractors out for the day). Any other bloggers in the Florida Panhandle? Helloooooo!

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