Everything that can be done outside for myself, my friends and those in my neighborhood is done. The remaining stuff is interior prep: filling bathtub and trash cans, w/ water etc. and putting the final touches on bug-out bag and emergency response vehicle w/ pets etc, along with enjoying the final days of air conditioning is what remains.
But boy howdy is the media missing the reality. As usual the national news heads for Miami and Miami Beach; that’s not the only geography for this one. For those of you interested here’s actual explanations of SWFL tonight.
Massive numbers of east-coasters came to the west coast based on storm path predictions two days ago. This only exacerbated the fuel shortage south and West of Lake-O. Seeing officials saying people need to make final evacuations now, just seems silly. How do these officials expect people to leave when there’s been little to no gasoline for days? Weird.
After checking with people within my network, within the rescue/recovery process and actual private business interests, everything is closing tonight at 8:00pm and there are no plans for opening ANYTHING until Tuesday. That’s approximately 4 days of severe hunkering down.
The earliest fuel shipments I could confirm are (hopefully) anticipated to arrive on Wednesday of next week. That’s approximately 5 days of self-sufficient fuel needed for those with portable generators. (5 gallons usually runs about 12-14 hours under normal loads). That means anyone with less than 50 gallons of fuel can’t make it from Sunday to Wednesday.
Anticipate the concerning fuel issue being the challenge again in the aftermath; as it has been in the lead-up. Fuel demand generally doubles AFTER a storm hits with widespread power disruption; I can only imagine what this means for next week.
On a positive note, due to a massive private investment after 2004’s experience with (Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne) Publix Supermarkets equipped their stores with whole-store generators which can put them back into business without a municipal power grid. This has the potential to pay off bigly in the upcoming month.
Power is going to be a big issue. If the path is anything like current projections we can anticipate a power outage in Florida breaking all known records. This issue is made complicated by the South To North direction of Irma keeping the inbound power recovery teams from being able to head south.
Once again this geographical dynamic means the Southern most impact zone will be without power the longest. Unfortunately, this is also the impact zone without fuel the longest; and subsequently you can see the ongoing exponential fuel crisis exacerbated by those with individual generators running out of fuel before replenishment can reach them. FUBAR.
With all of these combined factors, essentially, after tonight – everything is in full hunker down mode until approximately a week from now. I’m not too optimistic that most people are aware of that likely probability. That leads to the concerns of lawlessness etc.
As a rough guess, based entirely on just driving around paying attention, it would appear about 25% of homesteads are not prepared at all. About 50% of those observed in the region are moderately prepared, and about 25% appear generally well prepared.
I would estimate the number of people fully comprehending what might take place over the next 5-10 days (meaning having some foundational knowledge of how to move forward amid chaos) in the 3-5% range. Not coincidentally, that’s about the same range of the general population who would be considered “preppers”.
With massive power outages, little to no operational infrastructure, and a severe shortage of fuel… well, things loom as potentially sketchy.
Bryan Norcross at 5:00pm – The top winds in Irma have decreased a little bit from yesterday. Do NOT think of this as weakening. The energy of the hurricane is simply spreading out – which just further guarantees the entire state of Florida, except the western panhandle, will get damaging winds from the storm.
We still don’t know where exactly where the fiercest winds with hit. The afternoon computer models have shifted to the west.
If that turns out to be the final track, the Miami to West Palm Beach corridor will not receive the strongest winds in the storm. But, until Irma makes the turn toward Florida, we can’t be sure and, certainly, no one should let down their guard.
This westward shift just further confirms that the west coast of the Florida is at an extremely high risk of dangerous flooding from the Gulf water being pushed over the land – most likely late Sunday into Monday in Southwest Florida, then moving up the coast. Do not risk your life if you are in dangerous location. Every county knows where those areas are. Know your risk.
The hazards will move north over the ENTIRE peninsula through the weekend, including life-threatening storm surge along both coasts and on bays, rivers, and canals connecting to the ocean. The strongest winds will decrease as Irma moves north, but the trees and buildings in West, Central, and North Florida are not as resilient to strong wind as they are in Greater Miami, so the extreme threat continues.
Look for failure points in your home, and trees that could blow down on your house or your car. Be sure you plan to stay in a part of the house that is as protected as possible from flying debris or falling trees. Consider getting mattresses off your bed to fortify your safe spot as the storm approaches over the weekend.
This is it, South Florida. Your last chance for full preparation. And the window is closing farther north in the state.
Once again, I’m including a list of thing to do, most of which you can still take care of. Also, here are the key messages about the storm from the National Hurricane Center. STAY SAFE.
Also, attached is the shopping list from Brevard County – except I recommend 7-days supply of food and water and an AM/FM portable radio.
NHC’S KEY MESSAGES:
1. Irma will continue to bring life-threatening wind, storm surge, and rainfall hazards to portions of the Bahamas and the north coast of Cuba, especially over the adjacent Cuban Keys, through Saturday.
2. Irma is expected to make landfall in Florida as an extremely dangerous major hurricane, and will bring life-threatening wind impacts to much of the state regardless of the exact track of the center.
3. There is the danger of life-threatening storm surge inundation in southern Florida and the Florida Keys during the next 36 hours where a Storm Surge Warning is in effect. The threat of significant storm surge flooding along the southwest coast of Florida has increased, and 8 to 12 feet of inundation above ground level is possible in this area. This is a life-threatening situation.Everyone in these areas should take all actions to protect life and property from rising water and follow evacuation instructions from local officials.
4. Irma is expected to produce very heavy rain and inland flooding. Total rain accumulations of 8 to 15 inches, with isolated amounts of 20 inches are expected over the Florida Keys and much of the Florida peninsula through Tuesday night. The highest amounts are expected over the eastern Florida peninsula and upper Florida Keys. Irma
will likely bring periods of heavy rain to much of Georgia, South Carolina, and western North Carolina early next week, including some mountainous areas which are more prone to flash flooding. All areas seeing heavy rainfall from Irma will experience a risk of flooding and flash flooding.
YOUR TO-DO LIST
1. Try to get LED flashlights and lanterns. They last much longer. Have at least one flashlight for every person in your family, and ideally have a lantern or two for general lighting.
2. Get a portable radio and plenty of batteries so your whole family can listen to news coverage if the power goes out. Do NOT depend on your cellphone for communications.
3. Take photos today or tomorrow of every room, every piece of electronics, and everything valuable. Upload the pictures to the cloud – Dropbox, Microsoft Cloud, iCloud, Google Drive, etc. – before the storm.
4. Also take photos of key documents and upload them as well. You can do that today.
5. Save your contacts in your phone to the cloud. If you don’t know how to do that, frame grab your screen or have someone take photos of your contacts with their phone and email or text the pictures back to you to a friend. Don’t take a chance on losing your contacts if something happens to your phone.
6. Secure your photographs and albums in double plastic bags.
7. Plastic bags and duct tape are your friends. You can’t buy too many of them. Put documents in gallons-size (or larger) Ziploc bags. Put larger items in double large trash bags cocooned so the opening of the first bag is in the bottom of the second bag. Put some clothes in plastic bags in case you get a roof leak. Duct tape bags closed. Put valuables on a high shelf in a closet.
8. Think now about where you are going to park your car. A parking garage is ideal. Outside in a low-lying area or under a tree is the worst. Think about all of the cars you’ve seen ruined in storms because people made bad choices about where they parked the car before the storm. When we know the storm track, we’ll have a better idea which side of a building will give the best protection. Next to a building on the downwind side gives you the best chance if you have to leave your car outside.
9. Do your laundry and wash your dishes before the storm.
10. You dishwasher is an excellent “safe” in your house if you need someplace to put valuables. Your washer and dryer can offer good protection as well. These could be good places to put your bagged-up photos, for example.
11. Fill Ziploc bags ¾ full of water and stuff them in your freezer to fill up the space. The less air you have in the freezer, the longer your refrigerator will stay cold. Do NOT turn your refrigerator to any lower setting than normal – that can damage the unit.
12. Choose a friend or relative out of town to be the contact point for your family or group of friends. After a storm, it is always easier to get a call out of the area than within the storm zone. Be sure everybody has the out-of-town number and make a plan to check in ASAP after the storm.
13. If you live in a high rise, be sure you know what the procedures are going to be in the building. Will the building be evacuated? Will the water continue to work? Will elevators work? What is on a generator? If you can stay in the building (if it’s away from the water) find an interior hallway on a low floor where you can set up camp during the storm. It will not be safe to be on a high floor or near windows, even with modern hurricane impact windows. A hallway surrounded by concrete is your best bet.
14. Buy a plastic sheet – the kind you’d use as a drop cloth for painting – to line your bath tub. Line the bath tub and fill it with water before the storm. You’ll use this water to flush the toilet if the city water goes out. A sauce pan is a good scoop. Fill the tank and your toilet will work like normal.
15. Think about what you will sit on if you are in a hallway or other safe spot for a number of hours – maybe 12 hours or more. Consider comfortable folding chairs. Take food to your safe spot. Have books or other non-electronic amusements, including for the kids.
16. To repeat!! Do NOT count on your cellphone for communications. When Harvey hit Texas as a Cat 4, it knocked out the mobile phone system. In addition, your battery may run down and you may have no ability to charge it. Have an adapter so you can charge your cellphone in a car, have extra charges, and back-up batteries if you can.
17. Pick up your yard and anything that might blow in the wind. Bring in pool furniture if you can. Don’t put it in the water because it can damage the pool.
18. Check the shopping list attached below from Brevard County, Florida. It’s good, except I recommend 7 days of water and food, and an AM/FM portable radio so you can keep up with news coverage.
19. Most importantly, be sure you know a safe place where you and your family can ride out the storm, if it comes. This is the most critical decision you can make today. There almost certainly will be evacuations ordered for parts of Florida. If you live near the water, put together the food, clothes, valuable items, and important papers you’ll take with you NOW. Leave as early as possible. There will be a crush on the road and you may not find a hotel in the entire state of Florida.
20. Think clearly and carefully. This is it.
For our friends in the Westward Keys and Southern Gulf Side (South West Florida), please pay particular attention to this current storms path. Unlike the Eastern coast of Florida the South West coast (Gulf Side) is primarily made up of recently populated “shallow water” Gulf barrier Islands. A Category 4 or 5 storm that skirts the Western coast of Florida, from Ten Thousand Islands Northward to Sarasota, and maintains inflow energy from the Gulf of Mexico, is a topography changing event.
Repeat: “A topography changing event.”
Shallow Water Coastal Vulnerability
In a scenario where Cat 4 or 5 Irma continues Northwest (current track), then takes a sharp right turn, Northward up the Southwest coast of Florida, well, the coastal vulnerabilities are almost too staggering to contemplate.
Beginning in the area of Everglades City and Ten Thousand Islands; northward through Marco Island, Naples Beach, Bonita Beach, Fort Myers Beach, Estero Island, Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, Upper Captiva Island, Useppa Island, The Caloosahatchee River inlet, Pine Island, Cape Coral, Bokeelia, Matlacha, Boca Grande as far North as Siesta Key and into the intracoastal waterway would be almost unfathomable in the scale of how the coastal topography would change.
These Islands, while they may not be familiarly referenced as “barrier islands”, simply because decades have past and populations have developed them, are exactly that “Barrier Islands”. These shallow water gulf areas along the coast have not had severe storm surge disturbances for 60+ years.
The tenuous coastal and barrier island ‘ground‘ is crushed shell and sand, and their entire topography is subject to change as the shallow and severely churned gulf waters carry in sand/silt and excavate the same.
Just like 2004’s Hurricane Charley split an entire island (Upper Captiva) in less than 15 minutes, so too could entire coastal communities be split or covered in sand within a few hours. Bridges rising from mainland on one side could disappear into the new coastal Gulf of Mexico on the other, with the barrier island completely removed.
Nature is a powerful force.
Fill a cereal bowl 3/4 full with water and move it quickly from side to side, some water will splash out; that’s the East Coast Atlantic storm surge. However, fill a dinner plate 3/4 full with water and move it quickly from side to side and it will empty itself; that’s the gulf side storm surge.