My wife snapped this pic of the finger of Hurricane Earl over our home in Wilmington, NC. These preceding clouds look innocent and quite beautiful and serene, but belie a more destructive force around the corner. Long time residents of the coastal south see these and know it is time to make preparations.
While we moved to North Carolina (literally) during Hurricane Hanna in 2008, it downgraded to a tropical storm by the time I felt in my broken down U-Haul on the shoulder of I-95 just north of Richmond, VA. I had sent my wife and kids ahead to stay with a friend in Greenville, NC while I waited for nearly six hours in the beating rains with little water or food waiting for a tow truck to arrive. Arguing through several layers of “customer service” agents on the phone, I was swayed by 30-40 mph winds.
What Earl has in store for North Carolina, only Earl knows. We made the decision to ride it out since we were only tangentially in its path, but our home that we own in Beaufort, NC is much, much closer to where Earl is expected to make landfall in the Outer Banks. I will be updated by our tenant as soon as possible after the storm passes, but my thoughts are with him and his family. They just moved here from Iowa, the land of tornadoes, from near where I grew up.
We Iowans are no strangers to disasters – floods and tornadoes are an annual occurrence. I’ve seen twisters tear up apart neighbor’s homes, cutting a swath through neighborhoods less than a mile from me. I’ve floored it through on I-80 east-bound through Nebraska watching a funnel touch down west-bound in my side-view mirrors. With the pedal to floor I was only going 40 mph. The unpredictable paths and miniaturized scale of tornadoes is somewhat comforting though in the face of a large hurricane. When you know a hurricane is inevitable you can evacuate, but your property and memories are likely to be squashed flat and there is nothing you can do to stop it.
We fear for our tenants, our home, and most importantly our friends in Carteret County. Barring any last minute changes to Earl’s trajectory we should be safe for the most part. I will do my best to live-blog and live-tweet (@kzelnio) the events that may unfold in Wilmington. You can follow #BFTEarl on twitter to follow our good friends from Southern Fried Science and Bomai Cruz as they hunker down in Beaufort. Here is the latest storm track from StormPulse with wind speed prediction for 8 pm Thursday evening. Wilmington may be just inside that high gust wind zone..