Monday, October 24, 2005

Report from the Inside

This post will stay on top for the duration.

5:04 a.m. – The first band passed by around 2:15 a.m., and I woke up fully around 4:30 when the neighbor’s windchimes when into full mode. It’s now getting very windy here in Coral Gables with gusts up to 45 mph. The TV is showing the eye, about 70 miles wide, about to make landfall near Naples. Key West is getting slammed right now and they’ve lost power.

We’re not getting a lot of rain; just wind so far.

I’m going to make some coffee while I still have power.

5:20 – The on-scene reporters are still making themselves victims of the storm, standing out there in their rain slickers dodging debris and narrating the obvious — it’s windy out there. I’m not sure what the point of this kind of reporting is, but everyone does it.

5:40 a.m. – There have been a couple of power flickers. Florida Power and Light (FPL) did a very good job of restoring power after the last two hurricanes, so if we lose it, it will be from something falling on a nearby line. My biggest worry is that one of my neighbors has a very big avocado tree in his backyard — parts of it landed in my yard during Katrina — so if there’s anything that’s going to come down nearby, that’s it. The rest of the trees in the area have either been trimmed or came down during Katrina or Rita.

5:57 a.m. – Heavy wind gusts right now here in downtown Coral Gables. The wind is coming from the southeast as the bands circulate counter-clockwise around the center of circulation. I’m hearing distant noises of things falling; tree limbs? loose shutters? It’s still an hour and a half until sunrise.

The eye of the storm — now a Category 3 — is about to come ashore at Marco Island on the southwest coast. National Hurricane Center is saying that the worst of the storm for us in Miami-Dade is between now and noon, and we’re on the “dirty” side of the storm. That means the winds will be the strongest in the southeast quadrant as the winds circulate. Add to that the forward motion of the storm itself, which is moving at about 20 mph, and you have a lot of wind.

6:11 a.m. – Looking out my south-facing windows in the sunroom, the wind is really rocking the trees in the back yard and the neighborhood. Everyone still has power. There were occasional flashes of light; I’m not sure if that’s lightning or transformers blowing, but I haven’t heard any accompanying booms of thunder.

Nothing to do with the hurricane, but why has HaloScan comments chosen this particular moment to go off-line?

6:35 a.m. – HaloScan is back. Weather Underground is showing winds of around 45 with gusts to 60. Not a lot of rain. Power outages being reported in Pinecrest, which is south of here, and there was a loud explosion just now about a block away; I’m guessing that was a transformer. The power has been flickering a little.

6:43 a.m. – Reports are coming in from Channel 6 that Key West got hit pretty hard; there’s reports of flooding in the south and eastern part of the island, and they’re getting a storm surge from both the north and the south. Another quick look out into the back yard and the sky is lighting up with more electrical flashes.

7:00 a.m. – It’s getting really windy now, with reported gusts to 85 mph in the western suburbs of Miami. The center of the storm is now 10 miles north of Everglades City. The bands are tightening up.

Just heard from MKH who runs Hidden City in the northern suburbs of Miami. He lost power at 5:46 a.m. but continues on battery and wireless.

7:14 a.m. – A check out the front (north) side: lights are still on in downtown Coral Gables, and the house is protecting the Mustang; the bushes by the front door and driveway are relatively stationary. Transformers are flashing and banging and the lights are flickering a little, but the cable is still working, the phones are still working, and the sky is getting a little lighter. Sunrise is in ten minutes, although I don’t expect to see the sun pop up over the horizon like one of those Chamber of Commerce films.