A Tale of Two Storms

October 7, 2016 by Rick Cunningham

One month ago we were hunkered down, preparing for Hurricane Hermine. The storm arrived, and what we feared was the heavy rains and wind blown debris backing up street drains and causing water to backup and flood in some areas of the island. Public Works folks were out making sure everything was kept clear all night long on Sept 2, when a tornado was spawned by the storm. It cut a 1.6 mile swath across the island, destroying or damaging dozens of homes and snapping hundreds and hundreds of large trees. Amazingly enough, no one was killed or injured, and most of the island is back to normal now, with the obvious exception of those whose houses were destroyed or badly damaged.

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-7-35-38-amOnce the storm passed, we leased an 85 foot lift and went up to repair and remount the cameras. Take a look at the facebook page to see the progress of that work. The final result is three camera, one on the nest tree, and two mounted on a nearby tree pointing at the nest. Great news, right?

But now, just a month later, the entire GA coast from I95 east is under a mandatory evacuation order because of the approach of Hurricane Matthew. My wife and I are in Atlanta – on Wednesday we look at the predicted sustained winds over 80 mph, to last for a 24 hour period, and decided that discretion is the better part of valor. I’m not scared of heights, but I’m very respectful of hurricanes!

And as we went to bed last night, the sustained winds were still predicted to be in the 70’s, and we really wondered just how bad the damage would be and how many of us would return to wind and storm battered and possibly destroyed homes.

But this morning, as we took a new look at the predictions, the peak sustained winds were now predicted to be just below 50 mph. A HUGE difference, apparently being made by a very slight eastward shift of the projected track. The wind force is proportional to the square of the wind speed. The force from 86 mph winds is nearly 3 times worse than that from 46 mph winds, so we’re cautiously optimistic that the damages from the storm will be considerably less than previously feared.

But we can’t forget that this will still be a considerably more violent storm than Hermine, so there’s still very real danger to life and property, And the storm surge is predicted to be from 7 to 11 feet, so there’s still serious risk of wind driven tidal flooding, and I fear that many homes will be badly damaged by flooding as well as the inevitable felled trees. While things are looking better, they’re still looking very dangerous, so it’s a very good thing that people have for the most part heeded the evacuation orders. We hope and pray that any who may have stayed behind will be all right during the next 24 hours of severe weather. Stay tuned!

 

 

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