Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Natural Storm

Neuse River Thursday before Hurricane Sandy
"Too late" in the season (we wish), just a month before the official end of hurricane season, Hurricane Sandy has ripped across Jamaica and Cuba heading north for The Bahamas. Sandy is already stronger than forecast eighteen hours ago, and her track, once predicted to pass far enough offshore to be comfortable for us, keeps slipping westward, closer to the North Carolina coastline.

During this stage of an approaching hurricane, I continue to be surprised by the margin of error for weather forecasting by the National Weather Service. Despite all the data and modeling, Nature still charts her own course and amazes the experts with her independence (Nature is not limited to the known science of Man) and her intensity, her ability to fuel storms beyond what Man can anticipate.

By tomorrow afternoon, whatever preparations we think necessary will be complete, and three days of waiting and watching will commence while the storm passes offshore. The north winds will blow, and the water will rise. A storm surge of as little as two-three feet might bring the river over our dock. Winds and rain Friday night, Saturday, Saturday night, Sunday, Sunday night, Monday and possibly into Monday night. A looooongg time to sit storm-bound in the cabin listening to the whistling and howling winds and torrential drumming of the rain, but nothing that a good book and some music and movies won't alleviate.

The good news? None of the models show Sandy coming ashore in North Carolina. The bad news? Notwithstanding the model tracks, the hurricane force winds already extend fifty miles from the eye and the tropical storm force winds 140 miles. If Sandy grows and/or her track shifts west, these winds grow with her so that we could ultimately see even more significant winds.

All of the above are part of what we consider when staring at an oncoming storm. We do NOT assume the worst, but we do prepare for it.

As with Hurricane Irene last year, I will update this at least daily as changes occur.

1218 Update.  Reports show Sandy heading due north near our longitude (her course is less than 50 miles east of our longitude) with a predicted turn to the west (toward the US coast), which means that there will need to be a long push to the east to move her offshore of North Carolina as Cape Hatteras protrudes far into the Atlantic. While the turn to the northeast is expected by the forecasters, they have been off a bit so far. Were Sandy to come ashore west of us, we would be in the worst possible quadrant.

School of menhaden abstract
Tony and Jenny can watch this one from a distance, safe and dry in their Caribbean harbor. They earned it after their wild ride on South River last year.

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