As expected, Idalia has developed into a woman on a rampage. Just 1-2 hours from landfall at the Big Bend in northwest Florida. A Category 4. Anticipated surge as high as 16 feet. Described as high as a 2 story house.
Idalia will leave a lot of destruction in its path.
On TV this morning, a hurricane expert advised Idalia was not as bad as Ian. More like Irma. I have had no Ian experience. Did not come near Key West. Irma I know. Wrote a book afterwards: Irma and Me. I thought Irma was horrendous! Did not stay. In 30 years, I only left Key West for two hurricanes. One was Irma. A Category 4.
On the return trip from Birmingham where I had hunkered down with Jean and Joe Thornton, I saw the damage Irma had wrought. Boats on the land and roads. Cars in the water. Houses everywhere but on their foundations. The most impactful sighting came as I drove through Islamorada. A large refrigerator lying sideways on two branches of a tree some 20 feet above ground.
If that is what Big Bend and other areas taking the hit will look like afterwards, it will be bad.
Reporters were interviewing some of those who have opted to stay and ride out the storm. Crazy. Some were mobile home residents. Mobile homes the first to fly away. The winds lift and easily carry them away. These people are foolish. Others took the attitude this was not their first rodeo. Understandable. However I question whether any of the other hurricanes were a projected Category 3 or 4.
The preparation for Idalia seems the best ever. Each hurricane teaches something new. We have gotten better at handling them. Lets hope my observation proves correct.
Lets zero in on Key West. Idalia was never expected to be much of a danger. No one here got excited. The been here and done it before attitude. Correct this time.
The little punishment Key West and the Keys took was as anticipated. Some heavy wind and rain.
Understand why Idalia was not bad. It never came over Key West or the Keys. It ran up the west coast of Florida some 200 miles west of land. Two hundred miles away!
I will concede what we got was a bit more than I expected, however.
The wind gusts were strong enough to bend palm tree trunks a couple of feet in either direction.
The rain came when I was getting a manicure at noon. It started mid way through. Lasted about 20 minutes. The rain heavy. But straight down. Vertical. Hurricane rain runs sideways. Horizontal. The wind controls its direction.
Flooding was a bit of a problem. Always is in Key West. Don’t need a hurricane for it. A heavy rain is enough. Key West in most areas is at sea level. Flooding comes easy. The newspapers had already warned before I left that there was some flooding in Key West. Named the two streets that normally get it. I drove around and out of the way to get to Tammy’s for my manicure. No problem. Ran into no flooding.
Tammy’s is located in Habana Shopping Center on Flagler. Flagler gets flooded at certain points. When I left Tammy’s onto Flagler, I was met with a good foot of water. Drove through it for one block till I was able to turn off. Ran into flooding again on North Roosevelt Boulevard as I was driving to U.S.1. The Boulevard is 4 lanes. Two each way. The driving lane was flooded all the way up. It took a while to reach U.S. 1 as everyone was traveling in the passing lane.
The rest of the afternoon was quiet. I decided there would be no problem going to The Grand for Happy Hour. There was not. Nor on my return trip home. I avoided the usual routes both ways. My normal route would have taken me over the Palm Ave. bridge into the intersection with White St. Always the first place to flood. Easy 2-3 feet of water. I have seen people swimming in the intersection several times over the years. Totally avoided the intersection. I’m sure it was flooded. Swimmers yesterday I don’t know.
Now for “loop-a-loop.” The term applicable when a hurricane turns around and returns to a place it has already passed over. I recall it only happening once several years ago. I think it was in the Gulf. It hit Louisiana, went where ever, and then turned around and made a second trip over the same area.
After Idalia leaves Georgia and goes into the Atlantic, all diagrams this morning show it beginning a turn as if to return. The experts have no idea where it will go at this time. A loop-a-loop could bring Idalia back to Florida, this time hitting the Keys.
Idalia just made landfall. As a Category 3. Can hear it being announced on TV.
Enjoy your day! Stay safe!