Tropical Storm Fay has crossed over Cuba, and is making the turn more toward the north, and heading toward Florida (most likely). I thought I’d give you an update on the storm and my preparations so far.
Fay's Tracking Map as of 2008-08-20
The National Hurricane Center uses a series of computer models, along with some good old fashioned human analysis, to try to determine the path of hurricanes. When all the models are plotted against one another, they are usually all wrapped up fairly closely for the track for about 36 hours out, then they variously begin to spread apart from that point on to a greater or lesser degree. This is called the spaghetti plot. The NHC forecasters then take that data, along with their expertise and experience, and plot a “cone of probability for the path of any given storm.
Fay has given them absolute fits, as the model plots have seemed to just explode in different directions right out of the current location point for the storm. This weekend, some of the models have it heading toward northern Florida and the Panhandle, with some taking it well out into the Gulf and heading toward Alabama and Louisiana. Others have had it circling across southern Florida and heading out into the Atlantic, with others between those two extremes. Obviously, the water in the Gulf remains warm, so the longer it’s over the Gulf, the more it can strengthen. This means the best scenario has it getting back on land on the Florida peninsula as soon as possible.
With the storm now past Cuba and the hurricane hunter planes now able to fly more freely through and around the eye of the storm, a better track seems to be emerging, and the models are in a bit more agreement for the 24-36 hour time frame. NHC now has the track bending a bit more to the east with the storm making landfall north of Naples, and tracking to the Northeast across the state. This is a good scenario for Tampa. Due to some sheering, the storm has become more elongated than usual with much less activity on the west side of the storm than the east. The current track puts Tampa well on that week side, and the storm having gone back to being a Tropical Storm by the time is passes us. This doesn’t mean we won’t get some effects, but they will hopefully be mitigated.
However, because of the uncertainty, I made some of the usual preparations yesterday. I stacked and stored all the deck furniture, and made sure loose items outside the house were put up or otherwise secured. I have a great generator, but I’d been slack and not even cranked it for nearly two years. I got it out and drained the old gas out, put in new, and it cranked right up with two pulls. We’ve got all our water bottles filled, and I made sure Lay’s parent’s are good to go on water anyways.
I wasn’t going anywhere near the grocery store yesterday, as the parking lot was packed. I went at AM this morning. It was definitely busier than usual that early, but it wasn’t too bad. We have basic staples, and didn’t need a lot of extra anyway. It was mostly a normal run.
So, we’re about as prepared as we can be, and if the track holds, we shouldn’t have too much of an issue here anyway. I will keep you posted.