Monday, August 30, 2004

Frances, Pt II

We arrived at the beach yesterday to meet up with our friend L. and her son M. We knew they would be with other friends of theirs and it would give H. a chance to meet some of M.'s friends. (We had dinner at L.'s house about a week and a half ago, and M. and H. hit it off.) I plopped down into my sand chair once we got everything settled and I asked L. what her husband B. was doing for the day (he typically doesn't join them at the beach). She said he was at home putting the finishing touches on their new hurricane shutters (which he built). She added, "So they'll be ready on Tuesday." I was momentarily confused, thinking maybe they were heading out of town for a few days. I asked, "What's happening on Tuesday?" She looked at me like: Duh...a hurricane? With everything else on my mind, I had completely forgotten about Frances yesterday.

On Saturday, Frances was a category 3 hurricane. L. said she had since increased to a category 4 and was expected to increase to the even more dreaded category 5. Even more alarming, she had shifted from a northwest track to a due west track...AND she was moving very slowly (giving her lots of time to gather more strength before nearing our island). Although boyfriend said word among long-time residents on the golf course yesterday (during a golf tournament) was that she'd still pass north of us.

We live at latitude 18.3. At 8 pm last night, Frances was at 18.8. WAY too close for comfort. But at 5 am this morning, she was at 19.0 and wind speeds had decreased to a category 3. Even so, both St. Thomas and St. John were placed on hurricane watch last night. Frances is expected to travel about 130 miles north of us, but hurricane and tropical storm force winds extend more than 200 miles from the eye of the hurricane. So residents have been advised that we could experience tropical storm or hurricane level winds during the day tomorrow as she passes by. Forecasters are also reminding residents that Hurricane Charley was expected to hit Tampa, but passed 80 miles south instead--catching Charlotte County residents off-guard.

We'll prepare today just in case--securing items on the balconies and picking up additional bottled water, matches and batteries. H. and I bought a lot of groceries on Saturday, so we have sufficient food supplies. If the power goes out, we can still cook because we have a gas stove.

We've been keeping H. apprised of this whole hurricane situation. He sat next to me at the laptop last night while I surfed the weatherunderground site. We want him to understand, but didn't want to cause him great fear. He seems okay with it, confident even. He's pretty sure we don't have anything to worry about. :)


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