Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hurricane Sandy: Day Three Morning


0425. Checked and tightened spring lines. Water to bottom of dock joists. Another eight inches and Butch will kill the dock power to protect us and the electrical system. Fortunately, all of us have batteries, and some have their own generators aboard.

0500. NHC Advisory update. Sandy downgraded to Tropical Storm as she turns north-northeast at 10 mph. Revised track projects Sandy farther off North Carolina coast and reduces peak winds and gusts for our area. Wind field expands to 450 miles from center of storm. Our water level holding steady.

0800. NHC Advisory update. Sandy is again a hurricane and continues to move off to north-northeast.

Yesterday was sunny and breezy with several sails on the river. Of course, the talk on the dock was all weather and winds and surge levels. Everyone was removing canvas, securing anything that could not be removed and tying then re-tying dock lines. (They tend to stretch, and I frequently can shorten mine by a foot at a time with no effort.) Periodically, we re-check the NHC updates as well as other weather sources to keep abreast of any changes in the forecast.

A note here about the various weather sources. They all do their best with the most current technology. But this is Nature, Mother Nature, a force with no intellect to engage in rational discussion or debate. She moves as she moves with no influence from Man. Having said that, I have a couple of pet peeves about the forecasting world. 

One, all data comes from the same official sources, but is not reported with the same conclusions. In some ways this is helpful as it highlights the potential fallibility of the various reports. Two, for our specific area, the National Weather Service predicts coastal flooding based on feet "above ground." This is a meaningless reference. NWS, apparently in response to this kind of criticism, doubled down today with two paragraphs in their briefing statement, clarifying that "Ground level is essentially referencing ground that would typically remain dry." The mountains? Seems to me that "ground that would typically remain dry" varies with the elevation of the affected land in which case it would be useful for NWS to use "sea level" as the point of reference. After all, most of the people I know and have known along the coast know the elevation of their own property within a foot just because of storm surge.

Regardless my complaints, the NWS briefing package (link http://www.erh.noaa.gov/mhx/downloads/briefings/LatestBriefing.pdf) is very useful with good graphics. For me, there is no such thing as "too much information" even though a lot of info can be confusing and disorienting if not conflicting. At the same time, we have had calls from people who say they were unaware that a storm was moving in our direction which has already devastated Jamaica, Cuba and The Bahamas and killed almost two dozen people. I can imagine someone from the infamous Jersey Shore TV show (that I have never watched, but I read the news sometimes) declaring in the midst of the storm two days from now, "A hurricane landfall in New Jersey? Who knew?" We did, and they should too.

It remains quite breezy, and our lines groan occasionally, but it has been dry overnight, the storm rains spinning at sea. The wind rocked us in deep slumber. That will change today.

With preparations complete, most are settling into the waiting chapter of this event. It will either be better or worse than expected. Nothing we can do about that.

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