After Florence

After making landfall near Wrightsville Beach, NC, Friday morning, the storm spent Friday and Saturday moving slower than most people walk across the southern part of NC and eastern part of SC.  Florence is a tropical depression now, and two days later is only 35 km SW of Columbia, SC and still moving slowly.

Florence’s path took it north of us, so we ended up on the dry side and just got a couple days of breeze and light steady rain..  Most of NC is still getting rain from Florence and probably will for at least the rest of today.  I think we’re done with Florence now, at least until all the rain it dumped makes its way downstream.

We started preparation early for Florence.  Irma taught us a few things about getting prepared last year, and there were a few more things we were reminded of this year with Florence.

  • Check your battery operated things.  I forgot about the Maglight flashlights we have, and didn’t have enough D size batteries to replace all the batteries that were already in them.  The battery stock at Lowe’s and Publix were pretty much wiped out (plenty of AA and AAA batteries left though).  I could have tried a few other places, but we have enough other flashlights around that I wasn’t too concerned.  Will definitely make sure we have enough D cells on hand for next time though.
  • Decided that having 7 gallons of gas on hand for the generator wasn’t quite enough, so two more 5 gallon containers were added to the collection.
  • Arrange the refrigerator and freezer plugs so that they’re more accessible from the side, rather than having to move them away from the wall to reach them in case they need to be plugged into the generator.

I think we were pretty well prepared for Florence.  Even though the storm didn’t bring us any severe conditions, it made for good practice for next time.

Florence’s left turn

The latest NHC forecast model isn’t looking so good for the coastal Carolinas.

Hurricane Florence 2018-09-12 0500 forecast track
Hurricane Florence 2018-09-12 0500EDT forecast track

The NHC track has been adjusted southward at days 4 and 5, and is a little north of the consensus out of respect for continuity, however, the GFS, ECMWF, and the ECMWF ensemble mean is south of the NHC track forecast, and additional southward adjustment may be warranted in future advisories.

NHC forecast discussion 2018-09-12 0500EDT

The area between Myrtle Beach, SC and Wilmington, NC seems like it will get the brunt of the storm.  As long as Florence comes ashore somewhere north of us, we should be in relatively good shape to weather the storm.

Florence watching

South Carolina’s governor, Henry McMaster, called for the evacuation of the entire SC coastal area yesterday afternoon with lane reversals for I-26 all the way to Columbia.

The evacuation order is something McMaster is certain to get some flak and criticism later for but given the forecast track, storm intensity, and size at the time, I think it was an entirely reasonable precaution.

Hurricane evacuation orders in South Carolina are called “mandatory”, but nobody is going to come to force you to leave.  However, if you choose to stay, once winds reach a sustained 40 mph (or 39 mph, depending on your source), you’re on your own. Emergency personnel won’t respond because they’re hunkered down for their own safety, or might not even be able to get to you even if they could respond.

Based on today’s 5AM AST forecast track, it looks like we’ll be on the edge of the storm and, barring any unexpected turns to the west, won’t be affected quite as much.  The NHC 3-day forecasts have been fairly accurate the past few years, so I don’t expect many big changes to the forecast track.  Florence has a pretty broad wind field, and it’s expected to slow down quite a bit once it gets inland.  Expecting it to be windy and rainy, but not much more than that.

Hurricane Florence 20180911 0500AST

Hurricane prep continues today with putting away anything on the back porch that can blow away.  Probably don’t really need to, but if nothing else it’s a good drill for next time.

Accessible freezer/refrigerator outlets

When the power went out during Hurricane Irma last year, one of the issues we had was reaching the outlets that the freezer and refrigerator were plugged into so that we could plug them into the generator.  The outlets are in the wall behind the middle of each appliance, so we have to pull them out to reach the plug.  Not so easy when you’ve stuffed the freezer and refrigerator full to help them stay cold/frozen.

With Hurricane Florence on the way, we wanted to make the freezer and refrigerator plugs a little easier to reach in case we need to run them on the generator.  The shortest extension cords I have handy are either 25′-50′ long, or not a heavy enough gauge to handle the freezer and refrigerator current requirements.

A trip to Lowe’s got me a couple of 2-foot long 12-gauge extension cords (similar to this one but without the circuit breaker) and storage hooks.

Find a wall stud that’s within reach of the extension cord, drill a pilot hole, and screw in the storage hook.  Plug in the extension cord, plug the refrigerator into the extension cord, and you’re in business.  I zip tied the extension cord to the hook so that everything would stay in place.

It’s a bit ugly, and we’re definitely not going to win any style contests, but it works.  Now when we need to plug the freezer and/or refrigerator into the generator, we can just reach over and grab the plug without having to move anything.

Once we get around to having a transfer switch for the generator installed, all of this will become a bit redundant, but that’s ok.  I’ll just patch up the holes and put the extension cords and hooks to use somewhere else.

2018 storm season is heating up

Statistically, September is the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, and this year is no exception.

Atlantic Tropical Cyclones and Disturbances 2018-09-08
Atlantic Tropical Cyclones and Disturbances 2018-09-08

At the moment, all eyes are on Tropical Storm Florence, which early on seemed like it would stay out in the Atlantic.

Tropical Storm Florence 2018-09-08

Still much too early to say where Florence will hit, but at this point, it seems pretty certain that much of the Eastern US will see something.

After Florence, it seems the next one that will need watching is Tropical Depression 9 (which will likely become Tropical Storm Isaac soon).

Tropical depression 9 2018-09-08
Tropical depression 9 2018-09-08

Season’s getting exciting again.