Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Keeping an eye on Hurricane Irene

Two years ago I stumbled upon a local independent weather forecaster who works preparing weather forecasts for private clients , mostly in the agriculture business. I was looking for information about a possible snow storm that would have possible major impacts on travel I had planned, but the TV news was saying it would not be a big deal. Still, I wondered. I was looking at a few chat forums about the local weather and found many references to DT- so I found his private forum. He called the storm dead on- big impact on my trip and area. The local guys kept saying it was nothing until hours before it hit. DT had a new fan. I spent many hours looking at his graphs and maps and explanations about isobars and the 12z NAM and GFS versus Euro models. I learned a lot and was "in the know" about storms well before the general public. My friends at work were always asking what my weather guy had to say. DT was correct when the TV guys were not.

Last winter DT again nailed several storms. His facebook following soared. Then he got one big storm wrong- it wasn't big for us after all. Still, I felt better being prepared. I have also learned why the GFS model is usually wrong days out and why the Euro is the superior model. I like learning about this stuff.

So yesterday afternoon when the TV guys were saying that Irene was possibly going to have an impact in my area I decided to see what DT had to say. Yikes!!! He believes that Irene will make landfall around Wilmington, NC and his take on the latest models is that it will move up the coast right over my parents and then over us. Nobody else is calling this path at this time, but I'm taking this seriously. My parents neighborhood had severe damage with Hurricane Isabel. It was a few months before we moved into our home, but our area had many trees down, severe flooding and many days without power. That was a cat. 2 storm. Irene could be a 3.

Late last night I decided I wanted to go get some supplies before the general public was aware of the possible path and stores could get crazy. We needed new flashlights, batteries and bottle water and some non perishable foods. We are moving everything that could blow around off the deck and yard. We'll clear the junk out the garage in the next few days so we can park Paul's car inside. The TV guys are still saying it's "possible" but not with the intensity DT is. Thing is, the TV guys have to be cautious because they have a responsibility not to rile the masses until they know what is really going to happen. They have also been very wrong with calling all the snow storms, until they were almost upon us- then they called it like DT had days before.

So I may be a bit alarmist, but I'm going with the idea that things could be nasty around here Saturday. Doesn't look good for Norfolk, Va Beach, Williamsburg either. Good thing is it should really help dampen the wildfire still burning out of control in the Great Dismal Swamp. We have a lot of neighbors on vacation down in the NC outer banks. I'm guessing they will be evacuated in the next few days. The beach we just vacationed at ourselves on the NC coast could get pummelled. As we drove around Paul and I kept remarking that it would just take one good hurricane to destroy the tiny barrier island beach we visited. Hope that doesn't come to pass.

For now, I'll keep following "my weather guy" and learning what I can about the science behind interpreting the models. I'm fascinated.


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