Waiting for Hurricane Irene

I pulled into West Palm Beach shortly after 6 p.m. Monday night. It was an incredibly smooth trip: the new transmission transmitted, traffic was fast and light. Either traffic going through Nashville, Chattanooga and Atlanta was a lot less congested than usual or my driving experiences in Seattle have made anything short of a one-hour parking lot seem fast.

I hit the Florida line’s Welcome Center right about sunset Sunday night. The first thing I noticed was that our cost-conscious Governor Rick Scott had two signs (that I saw) telling everyone that he’s the Gov. I called Wife Lila and Mother to let them know my progress, then I went in for a – as they say in the Tour de France – a natural break.

That’s where I was greeted by a sign that had me a little worried. There are some things I’d rather do myself. I didn’t know if robot arms were involved or if this was some kind of new stimulus project. I waited until the room had cleared out before I grabbed my cell phone to capture this photo. I was afraid to hang around too long lest someone mistake me for a Congressman and pull out handcuffs. The fly I saw at Lambert Airport was less unsettling.

Where’s Hurricane Irene going?

Last night’s track was a bit troubling. You don’t want to see your home right in the middle of a Cat 2 Cone of Uncertainty. The news tonight is both better and worse. Now it looks like it’s going to be a Category 4 storm when it’s offshore West Palm Beach. Offshore is a good thing, but it doesn’t take much of a wobble to really spoil your day.

The tracking map, by the way, was done by SkeetobiteWeather. They do some of the best and most useful maps I’ve seen anywhere.

Tuesday’s track will determine what I do next. I stopped in Ocala in central Florida to pick up bottled water, batteries, a new Coleman LED lantern, some Coleman chemcial Glow Lights and a selection of fruit.

I like Glow Lights

I’m a big fan of chemical glow sticks. They have a long shelf life, they’re safe for kids to use and they throw out a surprising amount of light without generating heat. The Coleman lantern is very bright for using only four D-cell batteries. LEDs don’t burn out like bulbs and they burn cooler. The one I bought looks like the same one in the link, but mine says it’ll run 86 hours on high and 122 hours on low. It’s a lot safer than the old-fashioned propane or white gas lantern with their delicate mantels. A more expensive model is available with rechargeable batteries, but I think that’s a bad buy for an emergency light: if you don’t use it all the time, the battery will be dead when you need it, and if the power’s out, how are you going to charge it? A stack of alkaline batteries makes more sense.

I noticed I wasn’t the only one with a cart full of water, but the clerk said they hadn’t had a run on supplies yet. If it still looks close, I’ll pull the generator out, change the oil, hook it into the gas line and fire it up for a test run. I adapted it to run on gasoline, propane or natural gas. Since we already had a line for our kitchen stove, hot water heater and clothes dryer, I tapped off it as fuel of first choice.

12 Replies to “Waiting for Hurricane Irene”

  1. Our Seattle traffic appears to have made a lasting impression and even changed your perspective! Glad you got home safely on both trips.

  2. Ken, thanks for the reminder of Hurricane Irene. I guess I’d better email the Property Management in Melbourne and tell them there are hurricane shutters with instructions in the shed at our rental house. We’ve just been enjoying the weather up here that is cool enough to turn off the a/c and open up all the windows again, and we have ignored all the hurricane reports.

    1. Waterless can have drawbacks. My kid said they went that way at The Orlando Sentinel when he was working there. Since the amount of silver (used in film processing) allowed to show up in the sewer water was based on its percentage of all of the water passing through, they were out of compliance when water usage dropped.

      Sometimes the solution to pollution IS dilution.

      Given the number of layoffs and consolidations in the Tribune papers, before long, they’ll be waterless and people-less.

  3. We used to use those glow sticks on night scuba dives. We’d each tie one to our air tank so the boat could find us if our waterproof flashlights died for some reason.

    1. Drug smuggler in S FL would attach them to their bales of weed before pushing them out of the airplane at night, too.

      I was shooting pictures of a new park out in the Big Bend area of Florida’s west coast. I mentioned to a local that I was going down a particular back road to get a shot of sunset. He suggested that I be careful “because something’s liable to fall out of the sky and hit you on the head.”

      I got a nice shot of the moon reflecting off the water and didn’t get hit on the head, but I kept looking up the whole time I was there.

      As an indication of how the War on Drugs was working out, Athens, Ohio, cops were excited to catch some kid with a couple of seeds. Florida cops didn’t call a press conference unless they could pose in front of tons of “square grouper.”

  4. I live in St. James/Southport, NC on a golf course. Irene was headed directly for us, ended up 65 miles out to sea when the “eye” went through, Category 3. Our 1st hurricane experience so we had the shutters up, lanterns, flashlights, water and food ready!! It made land fall a little farther north. We had 75 MPH winds and about 8″ of rain. No damage other then tree limbs, etc. Boy do the pine trees bend around here! Hope that is it for the season.

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