Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fay Fay Go Away

Fay was supposed to have been long gone by now.  Instead she stuck around off the coast of east central Florida and dumped 25 inches in the Melbourne area. She finally ambled onshore near Flagler Beach sometime this afternoon. At the 8 p.m. advisory she was moving west at 2 (yes two) miles per hour. The winds are at 60 mph.

Video from the St. Augustine area is just as discouraging as the Melbourne area pictures. Plenty of beach erosion from the pounding surf.  Two people have died: one surfer who ignored a lifeguard's warning and one swimmer.  NE Florida has some terrible rip currents that lifeguards know to watch out for during stormy weather.

The slow moving storms are sometimes worse than the fast ones.  They linger and dump heavy rains in the same location. Since Fay came across from west Florida, the residents of the Atlantic coast thought they'd receive a weakened storm.  This makes sense, based on what usually happens. Fay just kept getting stronger. 

Here in the Tampa Bay area we're having the inevitable second-guessing that comes after a storm. Today's "Letter of the Day" in the Tampa Tribune slammed local media for the "hullabaloo" surrounding Fay.  Instead of complaining she should be thrilled. I suppose the editors ran her letter as the opposing view for their own editorial. 

I happen to agree with the Trib editors in their editorial. Governor Crist, the local governments, and the media made good decisions to declare a state of emergency, close schools (etc.) and keep us up-to-date on coverage and tracking models. If the letter writer had lived in Florida longer--she'd just moved here in 2004 when the big 4 hit--she'd know that the media have to keep the message going because not everyone is tuned in to the news all the time. If she got hysterical, it's her own fault.

Best line in the Trib's editorial?  "Don't be tempted to personify Fay or scoff at its deficiency as a cyclone. The only thing certain about these storms is that they don't care and never lose. All the losses come entirely on the human side of the match-up, and our only defense is intelligent anticipation."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fay Decides to Stay

Enough already.  TS Fay came ashore at Key West, then hit the mainland near Naples (Jim Cantore was there). She's started tracking a strange path NE across Florida where she's affecting the Space Coast (Melbourne, Cocoa Beach, Kennedy Space Center). The current forecast takes her out into the Atlantic to strengthen into a hurricane before coming ashore again (!) somewhere on the First Coast (Daytona, Jacksonville).  Then she may track across the Panhandle, hopefully not entering the Gulf of Mexico again.

Lots of flooding in SE and east central Florida today.  They needed the rain and this will help with a deficit in Lake Okeechobee. But everyone expected Fay to weaken, dump a whole lot of rain, and go away.  However, she's sticking around like an unwanted guest. Fay is defying conventional wisdom, but apparently behaving the way a storm should under the current atmospheric conditions.  Nothing outside the way God designed the atmosphere to function.

'Round Tampa Bay we had typical tropical storm cloud patterns: white puffies scudding across a gray sky.  We had swells and a few small whitecaps in the canal, which means the Bay was extremely choppy.  They don't quite show up in the picture, but the palm fronds are moving. Very little rain, because it's all gathered around Fay.  So weather-wise it was a magnificent day where we could work outside and not sweat as much. We were able to play outside quite a bit (except for one brief shower).  I trimmed. I pulled weeds. I tidied up our yard and it looks much better. Bruce continued cleaning the garage and both cars are parked inside tonight. Wow.

There's a certain giddiness I feel when we have a near miss.  It's like finding out that you don't have to take the pop quiz.  Except for the part where we did yard and garage work, this felt a little like a vacation day.

Monday, August 18, 2008

...And Now We Wait

the pierHurricane preparations have slowed considerably this evening. We're just beat.  The winds remain calm in our backyard.  When I went downtown late this afternoon Tampa Bay was choppy, but nothing you wouldn't see on a day with a thunderstorm moving in. The top photo was taken from North Shore looking toward the St. Petersburg Pier.  Choppy, but there were some boats out.

Schools are closed. City government is closed. No trash pickup tomorrow. Both Busch Gardens and Lowry Park Zoo are closed.

north shore
We're under a voluntary evacuation, but, if Fay's center stays inland, there won't be much storm surge.  I'd much rather be home if we lose power. At least all our toys are here.  

As of now, Fay is forecast to remain a tropical storm.  She'll dump some much-needed rain on SE Florida and, hopefully, Georgia. The outer bands should begin arriving in the morning.  That's when we like to go outside and smell the tangy air and watch the wild and windy clouds. 

Fay Watch

playingAre you evacuating?  That was the question up and down our street this morning.  I took the boys out for a bike ride down the cul-de-sac and ran into a couple of neighbors.  One family has a dog and they’ve already made hotel reservations on higher ground.  Another couple is elderly and they’ve already decided to go. 

We went to the mall.

If there’s one thing I knew this morning, I knew that I had to wear the boys out if I was going to get anything done this afternoon.  They had a good time. Now they’re napping.  I just finished cleaning off the lanai, cleaning part of the garage, and securing bikes, toys, and garden decorations.

Who got the better end of the deal?

The 2 p.m. advisory shows Fay’s track heading into Ft. Myers or Charlotte Harbor, well south of us.  That can change. Local media says that we might feel winds on Tuesday afternoon/evening approaching 70 mph with 4 to 8 inches of rain.  Most of the wind and rain is on the eastern side, so Pinellas County might just escape the brunt of the storm.

storm cloudsRight now we have fluffy clouds and thunderheads building.  I took a photo from our back yard (those swings have to be taken down).  It’s of the NE toward Tampa and not part of Fay, but we should start to have some outer rain bands this evening.

Anyway, my garage is almost clean enough to park both cars in it.  My laundry is almost done. The lanai is swept and the toys are picked up.  First a break, then I’ll tidy the house.

Bruce reminded me of a verse that’s been running through his mind the last couple of days.  It was the key verse from a sermon 2 weeks ago.  A good thought for today.

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. (Deut. 33:27a)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Calm Before the Storm

palm treesBeautiful day today: white puffy clouds against a baby blue sky. I stocked up on a few groceries and water after church, then took DW outside to play. All the neighborhood kids were out riding bikes and playing. It was hot, but we had to get them out today because we may start feeling some effects of TS Fay Monday afternoon.

Tonight there's hardly a breeze. The palms are still; just a few ripples in the canal. Bruce went out after dinner to put coverings over the windows. Our neighbors secured their boats. Everyone is talking about where they'll go if we have to leave. The 8 p.m. advisory shows Fay tracking past us on up to Cedar Key and north central Florida. The forecast if for Fay to pass by us on Tuesday afternoon around high tide time. So evacuation for us low-grounders is still a strong possibility.

Another evening in paradise. I took a few pictures.

I wonder what Jim Cantore is doing?

Jim Cantore, stay off our beach

Tropical Storm Fay's track is swinging like a pendulum.  The 11 a.m. advisory showed it coming ashore south of us.  The 5 p.m. advisory shows it coming ashore to the north.

A southern landfall means we stay home. The wind will push water out of Tampa Bay. A northern landfall means we leave (or seriously think about leaving).  In this case, the wind will push water into Tampa Bay. It all depends on the strength of the storm. 

Last night we were wondering where Jim Cantore was flying to; I'm sure the Weather Channel is making his travel arrangements.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tropical Storm Fay: what's in a name

Flashlight. Check.
Batteries. Check.
Bottled water. Check.
Heavy duty window coverings. Check.

It's that time of year again.  I've been insisting that we watch the weather news every morning before switching to any of DW's shows. The Disney channel is notoriously lax in warning about tropical systems.

Our local forecasters have been observing several areas of "interest" during August, the kickoff of our main hurricane season.  Friday night, as we were watching the Olympics and waiting to cheer for Michael Phelps, Bruce read a report that a tropical storm had developed around Puerto Rico.

This sixth named storm is called "Fay" and is predicted to develop into a Category 1 (possibly 2) hurricane before making landfall in Florida sometime Tuesday. Always curious about names, I looked up Fay and it means "fairy" or "elf". Well OK, then. That doesn't sound too bad.

Word nerd that I am, I also looked up the word "fey" in my online dictionary.  I've always thought fey to mean "whimsical." It does. That's nice. It can also mean "having a magical or fairylike quality."  Very sweet. Then there's "Fare thee well my fairy fay" from the song Polly Wolly Doodle.

And let's not forget Tina Fey. Funny lady. Really looking forward to the upcoming season of 30 Rock.

Wait a minute. Back up.  What was that first definition in the list?  Fey (adj) British dialect: fated, doomed to die.  Chiefly Scottish: appearing to be under a spell, marked by an apprehension of death, calamity, or evil.  

That won't do at all.

Then there's--"Fey (adj) being in unnaturally high spirits."  That's good. " were formerly thought to precede death"  Ooooo, not good.

Apparently the definitions are related back in their Latin and Old English roots to words that have to do with "fate". I don't have to worry about "fate".  God's sovereignty over the world means that nothing happens by chance. But I do need to get ready for a possible evacuation in a couple of days.

Of course, the names aren't picked to be descriptive of the storms. Really, who's afraid of "Hurricane Dolly".  But I'm praying that Fay will be more on the whimsical side than doom-filled. 

And now I'm off to find that hand-crank radio. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

This Little Light of Mine

“Can I use the flashlight, mommy?”

We were playing our usual afternoon game of dinosaur race. The rules are simple: each of us has a dinosaur, the dinosaurs race, DW’s dinosaur wins.  From there it gets complicated, but we usually get “trophies” which, for some reason, are kept in the crawl space beneath my bed.  The trophies themselves are invisible, but are described to me in detail as DW hands them to me.

After opening the door at the foot of our captain’s bed, DW prepared to crawl through to fetch whatever trophies his imagination devised.  I gave him the small flashlight to use and off he went in search of prizes.

“Mommy, come and see.”

I crawled around to the head of the bed to peek underneath.  In the illuminated space behind my bed, I saw dust bunnies. No, not bunnies. These were dust dinosaurs.  Our cats also like the cozy hiding places between the underbed drawers. I could have knitted a small cat from all the fur.

The flashlight illuminated everything.  All the fur, dust, fluff, and fuzz from, well who knows how long, clumped in piles beneath the bed.  I’m a good housekeeper, but I’m certain I haven’t vacuumed behind the bed since I had the kids.

Out came the vacuum and all the attachments.  DW enthusiastically held the flashlight while we sucked up dust tyrannosaurs and dust velociraptors by the dozen.  

On JW’s last visit to the pediatrician I was asked if he mimicked what we said or did, a normal milestone for an 18-month-old.  I looked at my little 30 lb sumo wrestler of a toddler and remembered all the ways he imitates his brother, dad, and me.

Big brother has taught JW a few wrestling moves which he now uses to pin his slightly heavier brother to the ground.  JW can pull a serious face, eyebrows cocked at odd angles, that looks so much like his daddy it’s funny. His baby voice chirps along when I sing and he throws in a familiar word or two right on cue.

That’s all well and good, but I know they’re also catching us at our bad moments. We’re not a four-letter-word family, but we have plenty to say about the bad drivers we encounter on the road.  I’m waiting for the day one of them rolls his eyes at me.  I already hear my “no” reflected back, usually by JW. (Although it’s really cute and dramatic. Nooooooo.) I need to erase the word “stupid” from my vocabulary for awhile. (oops, there’s that eye roll again)

Nothing throws a light on our words and actions like our children do.  They grasp their flashlights with their little hands and shine them everywhere, even on the dust, dinosaurs.

I’d better get out the vacuum.