Waiting for Irma’s eye by candlelight.
My son and his friends made it through Irma just fine. They stayed a friend’s home about 10 miles inland. By the time Irma barreled into Tampa, it was only a Category 2. The storm surge was no where near what the forecasters were predicting, probably because the eye turned back inland, away from the coast.
One weird thing that happened was that hours before Irma arrived, the entire Tampa Bay lost all its water. Photos of it looked like a desert or a moonscape (one is shown below). It was very strange. As Irma passed to the north, the water came rushing back in. This phenomenon also happens before tsunamis but of course this wasn’t a tsunami — the wind literally sucked all the water out of the bay! Tampa Bay is quite shallow though. It’s possible to walk for a mile into the water and without it getting any deeper than about 3 feet.
From the videos my son posted (until the power went out), it seemed like he and his friends were actually having a blast. He took videos periodically, but the worst of the storm didn’t come until very late at night, so he was unable to take videos of that. The power went out and they lit oil lamps and candles.
He said it got very hot, because of the lack of power, so it was not possible to run the A/C or even fans, and of course they couldn’t open the windows.
At about 2 AM he texted that he was directly under the eye! The wind and rain suddenly stopped, and he said he could see a few stars. A few minutes later the wind picked up again, but it was less intense. So he went to bed. It was a long day.
When he woke up this morning, he took another video of the damage, which was mostly just fallen trees and branches. No structural damage to the houses that I could see. A tree branch was wedged under his windshield wipers and part of it inexplicably got stuck inside the car door. But all in all, things didn’t look too bad, and today he returned home.
When he returned to his complex, it was not underwater as he had feared. However, the power was out and there were trees down and one tree had fallen on top of another apartment in the same complex., crushing its roof!
My son said he feels even closer to his friends now that they’ve been through this experience together, so I think it was a good thing for him and it’s certainly something he will always remember.
We are feeling Irma’s effects here today in western North Carolina. It’s rainy, windy, and cold. I think I’m actually going to put on the heat and curl up under the covers with a book and go to sleep. It’s that kind of weather.
More good news! All 54 Hemingway cats in Key West (I wrote about them the other day since they were directly in Irma’s path) and their caretakers are safe!