August, 2011

What Irene taught us about being prepared

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When a hurricane misses an area, there is always a collective sigh of relief. When one actually pays a visit there is lots of extra work and some lessons to be learned.

Certainly Cape Carteret and the beaches of Emerald Isle survived Irene.  I suspect many in the area were ready for even more than the lengthy beating that Irene gave us.

This was our first serious hurricane in the five years that my wife and I have lived along the Southern Outer Banks.  While we had a hurricane emergency kit almost from day one here on the Crystal Coast, it evolved to something much more sophisticated by the time Irene came ashore near Cape Lookout on Saturday, August 27.

There was nothing magic in preparations for Irene, mostly we used common sense and listened to the experts.
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Getting Ready for Irene

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Fall of 2011 will mark the beginning of our sixth year living here on North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks.  If the current forecast holds, it will mark our closest encounter to date with a hurricane.

Hurricane Irene is scheduled to come ashore somewhere between Cedar Island and Hatteras Island as a Category 3 hurricane. Irene will then run up the Northern Outer Banks before taking a bead on my college roommate who lives on the NJ shore. 

Of course we won't really know the exact track until closer to Friday, August 26. There seems to be more uncertainty in the forecast than ususual because some of the climatic features that do the hurricane steering are weak. Irene has the potential to make up her own mind about where she makes landfall.
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Strange Stuff Falling Out of the Sky

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I awoke on August 14 to something that I haven't seen in a long time, a puddle at the end of the driveway.  Not only did we have a puddle, we also had a trickle of water coming through our culvert.

Since May 7, our total rainfall here along the banks of the White Oak River has been somewhere around three inches.  Three inches of rain over three plus months is not much in an area that averages over an inch per week during many summers.

This morning our rain gauge had six tenths of an inch in it.  That is hard to comprehend.  It has been a long time since a single storm delivered that much.

That much liquid which I think might be called rain has already caused me to do some things which I haven't done in a while.

First I pulled the plug on boat to let the collected water drain out of it.  Our previous brushes with precipitation have been so minor that they have hardly got the bilge pump warmed up.

I even had to take my bucket of emergency gear out of the boat and drain it.
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Morning on the River

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It is August in North Carolina.  We're in the eastern part of the state,  It is the time of year that it never cools down at night.  On top of that, the water in the ocean has warmed close to shore, and the water in the river is just warm everywhere. There has been little rain since early May.

August is a time of year when you have to plan your activities and work around the daytime heat.  This is the month when I do outside things at certain times of the day.  I rarely deviate from my daily schedule because to do so means  you can be cooked alive.

We are in the heart of summer's heat. It is a moment on the calendar when we just get by and plan for times when it will be nicer outside. This has been an unusually hot summer following a very cold winter.  Normally it is rare for the parts of Carteret County near the water to see many high temperatures over 91-93 degrees.
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