After Dorian

Hurricane Dorian started making itself felt yesterday and slowly came closer overnight. The weather radio blared out a flash flood warning at 0430 that woke me up this morning so that I wouldn’t miss too much of Dorian’s approach.

Through the rest of the day, Dorian crawled by, skimming the SC coast and bringing some steady but not torrential rains, and a lot of wind at the house. The 24 hours or so of sustained winds with Dorian seemed to cause more problems than water this time, although there was still plenty of flooding going on. Twitter was full of reports of downed trees and branches, and power outages.

The generator transfer switch we had installed last year got it’s first non-testing use today. Power went out at the house around noon, unlike a lot of other areas where power went out early in the morning.

Around 4PM, I decided the refrigerator and freezer had been without power long enough so I got the generator set up out in the driveway, connected it to the transfer switch, and fired up the generator. Switched over the refrigerator, freezer, smoke detectors, and kitchen island (so I could run my laptop) to the generator and flipped each of them on. Everything came on like it should have. So much easier than running extension cords everywhere like we did for Florence.

The big black switches down the middle of the transfer switch switches each circuit between mains power and the generator. The white switches along the sides are off/on switches for each circuit. Fire up the generator, switch the desired circuit from line to generator, and flip the switch to on. Circuit is on generator power now. Easy peasy. I also decided each switch needed labels to make it easier to tell what circuits we wanted to switch over to the generator.

Generator transfer switch

The power came on about an hour later, so I didn’t have to be on generator power for too long fortunately (generator is loud!). Good test of getting the generator deployed and testing the transfer switch. I left the generator and power cord out for a little while longer in case power dropped out again, but it stayed on so everything got put back away for next time.

The only problem I ran into was that we had let a bunch of stuff pile up in front of the transfer switch, so I had to move a few things out of the way. A pretty minor problem, but something to avoid doing for the future.

Prepping for Dorian

All eyes are on Hurricane Dorian right now. At the moment, it’s pretty much stalled out over the western Bahamas battering the islands as a Category 4/5 storm. Everybody on the east coast from Florida to North Carolina is waiting to see when Dorian will make the turn to the northwest.

The NHC’s three day forecast track for Dorian has been pretty accurate except for when it went between the Eastern Caribbean Islands and Puerto Rico. With this track record, I’m feeling pretty good about our preparations.

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.