Happy ending.

powerout

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.

Tampa-Bay-Water-Vanishes-670x447

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!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4870610/Caretaker-Ernest-Hemingway-s-FL-home-rides-storm.html

The famous Hemingway cats are in path of Irma.

hemingwaycatsoutside

On November 1 of last year, I wrote this post about the famous six-toed cats who live at the Ernest Hemingway Home in Key West, Florida.

Unfortunately, the house and the cats are in the path of the worst of Irma as it passes over the Keys within the next 24 hours.

Although they have not been evacuated,  the loving staff is staying behind to care for the cats (who number about 50) and the home during Irma.   The home is old and very sturdy, so I think they will be okay.

http://www.fox13news.com/news/hemingway-cats-staff-riding-out-irma-in-historic-key-west-home

Please send your thoughts and prayers to all the cats and the staff who are staying behind.

Visiting Key West one day and spending time with the cats (and enjoying the beautiful beaches there) is definitely on my bucket list.

*****

UPDATE (9/11/17):

Good news!  All 54 Hemingway cats are SAFE!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4870610/Caretaker-Ernest-Hemingway-s-FL-home-rides-storm.html

My worst nightmare.

I’m a natural worrywart.   A few days ago, when Irma was still out in the middle of the Atlantic and Harvey was still the #1 topic, I wrote a post about being worried that Irma might hit my son, who lives in the Tampa Bay area.   My rational mind told me I was probably just catastrophizing, because I tend to do that.  I mean, what were the chances the eyewall of this storm, would actually go right over him?  It really didn’t seem all that likely.

But I couldn’t shake the bad feeling I had.   I have good intuition, but my intuition tends to get mixed up with my tendency to catastrophize everything, and it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference.  As a result, my intuition doesn’t always work very well, since I get “bad vibes” even about things that pose no danger.

This time, my intuition was accurate.   As the days passed since I wrote that post,  Irma appears to be doing exactly what I prayed it wouldn’t do.   Like a sadistic narcissist, this bitch has been teasing me and giving false hope — she moved to the east for awhile and looked like she was going to head up the Atlantic, sparing the Tampa area from the worst of the storm.   I was able to relax a bit and laugh at myself for having been so worried.

But yesterday she shifted back to the west.  Unless a miracle happens, she will be skirting up the western coast of Florida, with the eyewall passing directly over my son’s area.  It won’t have weakened too much by the time the worst of it hits late Sunday night or early Monday morning — at best it might be a category 3 hurricane, which is still pretty bad.

My son is in some ways his father’s son.   He lacks his dad’s narcissism and lack of empathy or conscience, but he definitely has his stubborness.    I’ve been begging him to evacuate and drive up here until the danger passes.   He said he didn’t have gas money.  I told him not to worry about money and that I would provide anything he would need, but his answer was no.  He’s determined to stay and ride this thing out.  Now it’s too late for him to evacuate even if he decided to finally do so (which I know he won’t).   The roads going north are bumper to bumper and there is no gas to be had.

I think there is another reason for his decision to stay besides his stubborness.   Since he was a small boy, he’s always been fascinated by storms.   When he was in his early teens, he flirted with the idea of being a tornado chaser.  He used to watch all those Weather Channel shows about brave men and women who put themselves in the paths of dangerous tornadoes just for the adrenaline rush and to take videos of them for the rest of us more faint-hearted people to marvel at.

So I think he sees this as the opportunity of a lifetime, an adventure like no other, a dream come true for any fan of severe weather who is a bit of an adrenaline junkie too.  He wants to have a story to tell, a story that few others will be able to tell.   It’s like being a fighter pilot in World War II and or having climbed Mount Everest.   “I was in Hurricane Irma back in ’17,” is something that will definitely get people’s attention.

My son is not going into this blind.   He has been tracking this storm, paying attention to the warnings and evacuation orders, has gotten all the supplies he needs, and has chosen to leave his apartment (which is in the storm surge zone) and go slightly inland to a sturdy one story brick home where he will be riding Irma out with about 9 of his friends (it’s still in Tampa though).   They are well prepared and he tells me they are not in an area prone to storm surge or flooding.

But this hurricane is a beast, and who knows what havoc she will bring?  Irma is unpredictable, and not like any other hurricane.  Even if my son and his friends are safe from storm surge, they are not safe from the furious winds, which will be around 100-112 mph as the eyewall passes over them.   More than anything, I am glad he is not alone.  But I’m still terrified for him.

Please keep my son and his friends in your prayers.

Freaked out by Irma.

Yes, I know it’s still far too soon to know exactly where (and if) Irma will hit the United States, but  I just saw a report on the news (MSNBC)  that terrified me.

It showed that Irma, which is expected to be another devastating hurricane like Harvey, is expected to keep moving west and then could possibly turn north once it hits the Florida peninsula, moving along either the Atlantic or the Gulf Coast (no way to know yet).

When I looked it up online, I couldn’t find anything but this.

https://weather.com/storms/hurricane/news/irma-major-hurricane-atlantic-ocean-leeward-islands

As a worrywart and a mom, this put the fear of God in me.   My son lives in west-central Florida, right along the Gulf Coast, and has no plans to evacuate even if his area takes a direct hit.

There’s nothing I can do except pray and beg him to stock up on bottled water.   I know it’s way early to be this worried, but I can’t help it.