Monday, September 16, 2019

Goodbye Humberto

As I said in the last entry, "this track is so wacky it is likely to change." And it did. Thank goodness it seems headed out to sea.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Deja Vu all over again

Here we are all over again with a storm projected to be at the 80 degree west line next Tuesday at 2 pm. For now, this looks to only be a tropical depression at that time, but this track is so wacky it is likely to change. It shows a full 180 degree turn back south. Tropical storm or depression will depend on its time over land. We'll see.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

80 Degrees

Throughout our long wait for Dorian, we have counted for several days on its forecast turn from northwest to north, keeping it at, or east of, the 80 degree west longitude line (and more than 75 miles east of us) as it passes. (We are located at 31.9N 81.3W.) In a remarkable display of forecasting accuracy, the National Hurricane Center first said last Saturday night that the storm would arrive tonight at 8 pm at a position of 31.1 degrees north, 80 degrees west, where it would turn north and then later to northeast. So it is now 8 pm, and the storm's position is 30.9N 79.8W, two tenths of a degree south and two tenths of a degree east of the position forecast 96 hours ago. It has turned from a northwesterly course to due north. No doubt the NHC is aided by advances in technology and computer modeling, but if you have ever looked at the range of models and spaghetti lines produced by them, you will understand that a lot of ability and professionalism goes into producing these forecasts. And lives depend upon them.

Showing Division Belle and 80 degree west line 75 miles to the east
Until now, Dorian was being forced to travel northwest by an upper level ridge of high pressure near latitude 32 north, which has been gradually eroding. Complete erosion of the ridge has now caused Dorian to respond by turning north. Overnight, upper level steering should turn Dorian to the northeast. The only question is whether it will turn northeast soon enough or sharply enough to avoid a landfall along the South Carolina coast. It is predicted that it will make a landfall at least briefly near the Cape Lookout or Cape Hatteras areas, unless it is changed by coming ashore in South Carolina. After that it will be at sea heading toward Nova Scotia or Newfoundland.

We believe we have been extraordinarily fortunate with the timing of the storm and the tides where we live. Our high tide was around 4 pm this afternoon. Dorian was well south of us and barely influenced the tide. The next high tide is at around 4:15 am tomorrow, when we are hopeful that the storm will have moved north of us causing our winds to be from the north rather than the east, and perhaps eliminating any tidal surge. Importantly, the high tide tomorrow morning, without any surge, is to be a full foot lower than this afternoon's high tide.

Currently here the winds are from the southeast at 22 mph gusting to 24. It is not even raining.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Forever Dorian

This wait for Hurricane Dorian has tried everyone's patience, but there is encouraging news today for some of us in its path . First, the storm has begun to deteriorate and is now at the top of the scale of a Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph sustained winds. The estimated minimum central pressure has risen from a low yesterday of 911 millibars to 959 mb now, lowering the wind speed. The eye-wall has become difficult to see on radar, although it is still clearly visible in satellite shots. At 1 pm EDT Dorian was moving northwest at only about 3 mph, at last leaving Grand Bahama. We are under a storm surge warning and a hurricane watch here. Interestingly, areas north of us beginning at Edisto Beach are now under a hurricane warning, but we are not.

Importantly for our location near Savannah, the official estimated path has changed slightly to the east and now places the center of the storm 110 miles east of our location as it passes moving north. At this estimated position, our area at the coast will likely experience tropical storm force winds beginning Wednesday afternoon but possibly earlier in the day Wednesday. It should pass north of us in the middle of the night Wednesday-Thursday. The storm is expected to arrive in our area both weaker and further offshore that Hurricane Matthew three years ago. But of course, forecasts can change.

Storm surge here is forecast to be four to seven feet above normal water levels at the coast, and is expected to be closer to two feet above the current King Tides where we are located 15 nautical miles from the ocean up the Ogeechee River. High tides here at The Ford Plantation will be around 3:15 am and 4 pm Wednesday, and 4:15 am and 5 pm Thursday. We will be closely watching the Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning high tides which I expect will be the highest water we will see.

It is worth noting that the National Hurricane Center has been remarkably accurate in its forecast tracks, all the way down to the dead stop over Grand Bahama for 36 hours. The track has had no meaningful changes for nearly a week now, except to move the center a little more east of our location as it passes. The meteorologists there deserve our highest compliments.

There seems to be high confidence now of four things:
Northerly movement begins today.
It will track parallel to Florida tomorrow.
It will turn northeasterly tomorrow night into Thursday as it               passes east of our location.
The storm center will be very close to Cape Hatteras Friday.

Keep in mind that things can change quickly. The NHC Tweeted the following a after this morning's update:
IMPORTANT: The headline for this #Dorian advisory is NOT    that the wind speed has slightly decreased. The combined wind, surge, and floods hazards are the same or even worse since the hurricane has become larger. Full advisory:

For ourselves, we are nearly decided to stay in place for this storm, although we could change our minds and leave as late as tomorrow morning if the track changes. We will hate to be here if we lose power or if trees are falling, but leaving normally means a big delay getting back if there is damage and roads are closed. Even without power, we can stay on our boat with its generator if the threat of high winds and surge have passed.

Here's hoping everyone on the southeast coast stays safe and that property damage is minimal. Our thoughts and prayers are with all who have suffered in the Bahamas. 

Sunday, September 1, 2019


Apparently mandatory evacuation will be ordered for our area beginning at noon tomorrow, and "contraflow" will begin at 8 am Tuesday when I-16 will open all four lanes westbound. We are fully prepared to leave, but will want to wait until Tuesday morning to make the final decision. It is now a 50-50 chance that the storm will be far enough offshore to keep us safe, or too close for comfort.

We were in Watkinsville, Georgia at Laura Lee's family farm this morning, but needed to come back for a day or so to pack up some of her work and some treasured possessions. We're ready to leave at a moment's notice, and will just be watching the storm's turn northward to see how far it goes north and east. Our decision will be made Tuesday morning.

Good luck to everyone.