Monday, October 8, 2018

Michael: Major Hurricane Forecast for the Florida Panhandle

Dr. Rick McNabb, who knows his stuff, says of Hurricane Michael:
"One of the worst hurricanes ever to strike the Florida Big Bend and Panhandle region." Michael will be a major hurricane at landfall. It is rapidly organizing near the west tip of Cuba right now.

The storm is developing an eye near the west tip of Cuba (circled, see below). It is rapidly intensifying and will accelerate its forward speed tomorrow. Satellite image from 2pm.

Currently, the National Hurricane Center is forecasting sustained winds of 120 mph at landfall. They may have to raise this a little on their 5pm advisory. Below is what the wind path may look like keeping in mind the path could shift a bit east or west. 
One of the things the models are showing is that gusts above 100 mph may occur into far southeast Alabama and far southwest Georgia. This is due to the rapid speed of movement of the storm.

The storm surge with this storm is going to be a major danger in addition to the wind.
Forecast Storm Surge: Central Florida Panhandle (click to enlarge)

Forecast Storm Surge: Florida Big Bend

Evacuation orders have gone out. I urge you to follow them.
What Do I Do Now??
  • Get prescriptions refilled now, especially if you doctor must approve the refill. 
  • Before leaving, throw out any expiring food, clean cat litter boxes, empty all trash cans in the house, including bathrooms. Otherwise the odors could be bad when you return. 
  • Gather your utility bill (proof of current residency!), passport and any other important papers so you can take them with you if you should have to evacuate due to the hurricane’s winds and/or the hurricane’s flooding. 
  • If you are in the hurricane wind area, see this information for preparing your home. 
  • Prepare bottles of water by filling them 90% (allowing for expansion when they freeze) and putting them in your freezer. They will keep the freezer cool longer if the power fails. They will also serve as emergency water. Freezers stay cold longer when full. So, if you have two freezers, consider consolidating the contents. 
  • Pet food and supplies? I'm not an expert in pets so I leave that to you. 
  • Batteries for everything. Lots of batteries. Full charge for cell phone and laptop. Keep them fully charged. 
  • If you have a relative at home that requires electricity for life-assistance purposes, you may want to move he or she outside of the higher wind zone. 
  • If you can get an electrician to install a generator, get it done. Do not try to install a generator yourself. 
  • If you don't have a generator, get a power inverter or two. Radio Shack and similar stores sell them. They are a "poor man's generator" and will keep your cell phone, laptop, and similar items charged. Tell the person in the store what you want to run off it so you get one of the right size. Do not try to run the inverter for hours at a time as that is tough on your car's battery. Charge the (for example) cell phone and let the charge run all the way down, then use the inverter to recharge. 
  • Keep your car's gas tank full. 
  • If you have a wood-burning fireplace and you know your chimney is clear, get wood. Keep some indoors to keep it dry during the storm. You may need it to heat your home, especially since the power failures could last for weeks in some area (i.e., toward the first of October). 
  • Have a paper map of the region as your first choice of evacuation routes may be cut off. 
  • Fill a few gas cans (the type you would use for your mower) to have extra in the event of power failures for your auto or generator. 
  • Purchase extra food staples. Without power, stores will be closed. Things that require less preparation are better. Bottled water is especially important. 
  • Purchase booster batteries for your cell phone and other essential equipment. If you need insulin or other medicine that must be kept chilled make plans now!
  • Consider what you would do if you were without electricity for a month. If you have an invalid living with you that requires electricity, there will be areas that will be without for weeks. Be proactive. 
  • If you live in a heavily wooded area, does someone in your vicinity have a gasoline-powered chain saw? Does it have fuel and a reasonably good chain/blade? Test it, now. 
  • Get to an ATM. Without power, credit card readers and ATMs will not be working. In a disaster, cash is king!
  • If you are in the high forecast wind area, thoroughly photograph your home and possessions now. You will need it for insurance purposes. This includes trees, shrubs, etc. Then, if using a digital camera, upload to internet so it will be there after the storm in case the worse happens. You can use it then to document damage for insurance purposes if the worst occurs. 
  • Stay away from downed power lines!
  • If you evacuate, turn off the main water line. 
I will update again early this evening. 

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