September 7th, 2008

Ike: Sunday Updates

This is the 8am update, left, and the 11am update on the right, here for the record. Ike just gets more ho-hum for Key West by the hour.

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Key West is disappearing from Ike’s cone. At the closest, he’ll be a Cat 1 on the north shore of Cuba sometime late Wednesday. Cuba is 90 miles away. That’s a fer piece for a Cat 1.

And he’ll never get closer. The Wednesday 2am yellow dot is four degrees away. Each degree is 69 nautical miles which are slightly bigger than land miles. So Ike will be 276 miles away when he passes by…

So why did Key West order an evacuation TODAY, Sunday morning?* If you were paying attention, it already looked like it was going to miss us by last night… Oh no, city officials weren’t watching network news, were they? Maybe someone should tell them about where you get facts without hysteria.

The world is fixated on that first picture of Ike hitting Key West dead on as a Cat 3. They can’t shake it: everyone is evacuating, boarding up, going God knows where. For Andrew, everyone in Key West went to Miami and Andrew hit there as a Cat 5. It’d be a comedy if it hadn’t been so devastating. A Cat 5 can do some damage to your roof.

Here’s my Guide to Hurricanes in a Nutshell:

1. Hurricanes always move more slowly than predicted. When we first started watching Ike last Friday morning, he was scheduled to be a Cat 3 with a direct hit on Key West by Tuesday am. Now, two days later, he’s scheduled to slip past as a Cat 1 over 276 miles away. It will be hardly noticeable.

2. The initial course is never the same as the actual track. Don’t make plans based on the initial course. Remember #1: you have time. Hurricanes move slowly and like to announce their arrival days ahead. This is not a tornado, not an earthquake, not a tsunami. Ike has been moving along between 12 and 14mph… I can crawl faster than that.

Threat_levels3. Don’t watch the news. They like panic and they don’t show the tracking map: they only show the radar map which is so Gigantic it makes the ‘cane look like it covers most of the world, it’s bright Red-Orange-Yellow (coincidentally the HSAS’ highest alert colors), and Scary.

4. People drown in hurricanes, that’s how you die. Statistically, your chances of drowning in a hurricane are slim to none. Unless you live in a shanty in a hideously poor country.

Don’t bring up New Orleans. That city was already under water.

5. The heart of the cane is usually only 60-70 miles wide and that’s the most destructive part. A direct hit by the eye is scary. We lived through that with Rita, a Cat 3. Wild wind for a few hours. Peace and quiet for a bit. Then wild wind for a few hours. But nothing bad happened.

6. Trim your trees, take everything out of your yard – even an ashtray, a potted plant, an oak lawn chair – they can all become missiles. Batten down your hatches, make sure you have drinking water and gasoline, canned food can’t hurt. Plan for no electricity for a few days and possibly no bath. You won’t die unless a tree falls on you or the water rises past your roof.

7. I wouldn’t evacuate because a) I’m not rich enough to evacuate – especially not every time it’s mandated, and b) I want to be there if something happens to my house and I can minimize the damage. Since statistically I’m not going to die, I’ll take my chances.

8. Hurricanes can be unpredictable, I guess. I mean, they are pushed and pulled by other forces that you can see on the weather maps. The lows and highs all around them dictate where they are going to go. The water temperature affects it. A ‘cane can’t just decide to circle back. The conditions surrounding it decides. Watch the conditions, read the charts, Dr. Jeff’s blog… then you can make an informed decision.

Whatever you do: don’t watch the news and don’t make your decisions based on what those guys say. Their job is to scare you so much you keep watching their channel and buy the products advertised there.

Listen to me and buy the products advertised on this blog. Thank you.

If you want to be scared, I can offer this: if, sometime Tuesday, the conditions surrounding Ike change, allowing Ike to just sit off the northwesterly coast of Cuba and build strength. That could happen. It’s not likely because, contrary to popular belief, weather doesn’t change in an instant. But if the conditions surrounding Ike did change and pushed and pulled him in a more northerly direction… let’s see, that would put him right on top of Key West.

Ok. My work here is done.

*Here’s the article in pdf
in case it’s no longer available at the link.

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