Irma pummels Central Florida, Highlands County

With pleasure I announce that The Wasteland is finally back online. I do apologize for the delay but I have been quite busy. Storm projections had this riding Florida’s west coast, meaning my family and friends should have been out of the brunt of the storm. That did not occur, Irma went due north from Naples and ripped a path of destruction right up the center. This path placed central Florida directly over the eastern eye-wall, the most intense part of these storms. I am happy to report that everyone I know is safe, though damages were plenty. My family in Highlands county fared worst, but even here in the Orlando area there was plenty of damage.

First off were the power issues, this storm caused one of the largest outages in U.S. history. I went without power for 5 days, my family down in Highlands county were without for 8. Some were out for longer and parts of the Keys still may be without. The Highlands county area made the news, being rural there were not only issues with power but also gas. The hidden toll with this storm will be agriculture, central Florida has a huge citrus and cattle industry. I can confirm the citrus crop this year is ruined, most of the oranges were blown off trees. Things were bad enough for both senators Marco Rubio and governor Rick Scott to visit to witness the losses first hand. Luckily Highlands county was one of many to be added to FEMA’s official list to receive federal assistance.  I can assure you they will need it, damage to citrus alone could drive many farmers out of business. That would cripple the local economy.

I want to share some YouTube links with local news reports showing how bad things got for a bit down where my family lives. Supplies were hard to get, I wound up having to run them gas and ice from the Orlando area where I live. Getting out of their county was quite the challenge too with all but 3 traffic signals in the entire county out.  I will just provide links to keep this post as short as possible.

This link shows the fate of their bowling alley. It caught fire during the storm and they could not respond. The rest of these links will be random local news stories highlighting the issues they had in Highlands county. I was lucky enough to weather the storm there myself as I got caught there after helping them board up. It was a fun ride I assure you. Not only did they have no power, but no running water since they are in the country with a well. If you want to know more about my personal experience with the storm feel free to comment or email me here

YouTube Links

Highlands County clobbered by Irma

Majority of Highlands County still in the dark

Devastating damage in Highlands County

People waiting hours for gas after Irma

Highlands County struggles after Irma

Governor Scott visits Highlands County

Highlands County deputies pass out supplies

Highlands County residents getting the basics

Highlands County power concerns grow, fuel in short supply

Senator Rubio visits Highlands, witnesses agriculture damage

I also wanted to share a few personal photos I took of damages, these are from Highlands county where I rode out the storm with my family. The first three show roof and overhang damage at my family’s place. All of their gutters were ripped off.  The mangled metal in the last photo you see is someone’s porch that blew off and traveled about a block. 

 

Irma approaches Florida’s west coast

This will probably be my last update. Irma is making its final approach on Florida’s west coast. Computer models show the storm skirting the west coast of Florida. Current projections show this powerful category 4 storm making landfall in the Keys and riding the west coast. This is slightly better news for those of us inland, but terrible news for Tampa. Storm surge projections show them getting over 10 feet of water. Tampa bay is similar to New Orleans, it lies below sea level. 

As expected with storms like this local curfew’s are in affect. For more information on that check here and  here. Schools are closed across Florida, most until at least Tuesday. For further details on local school closures be sure to check out this link. For those in mobile homes or low lying areas that have not evacuated to a shelter time is running out. We are expecting conditions to deteriorate throughout the day and by evening the roads will no longer be safe. Those with city water are already starting to see boil water notices. Best practice is to begin boiling water at the first signs of low water pressure. Normally that is an indication the system has been compromised. 

Current weather conditions here are fairly calm. We have had bands of rain and wind since the early hours of the morning. We expect the worst of the storm to hit late tonight and into the early hours of Monday. The Wasteland will be taken offline as soon as power is lost. I plan to move the server to a more secure location. Hopefully we all weather out the storm safely. Weather in south Florida is already poor, access to most if not all of the barrier islands is closed or will be soon. Area bridges are also starting to close. In prior storms access is shut down once sustained winds reach 40 Mph. Lastly I wanted to provide emergency management links for OrangeSeminoleLake, and Highlands counties. A statewide emergency info can be found here. 

That is all I have, stay safe everyone and stay off the roads. We need to keep them open for emergency personnel and when the storm passes Utility crews. I will bring The Wasteland back online as soon as services are restored provided my home does not sustain damage. Below are the most recent tracks and models. 

And here are the current track and computer models from Weather Underground.

Hurricane Irma closing in on Florida coast

I was meaning to provide daily updates on the storm but found myself too busy yesterday to provide an update. My day was spent boarding up windows and making final preparations for the storm. It is vital that everyone in the path of this hurricane be stocked up on water, batteries, fuel, and non perishable foods. At this point mandatory evacuations have been issued for most of the coastal areas. Storm surge flooding from this large hurricane should be catastrophic. We expect to be without power for weeks. At this point everyone just needs to stay safe if you are riding this out like me.

At this point over 5 million people have been told to evacuate. Anyone in a low lying area, mobile home, or in a flood prone zone should get out. Governor Rick Scott advises that action needs to be taken by 12 PM today. Traffic is like I have never seen so it will take time to get anywhere. For those evacuating stay patient and safe. If you are unsure if you are in an evacuation zone check here or on the official Florida disaster site here. In case that site gets flooded here is one more link with evacuation zones.  In the event you can not evacuate, and you are not in a well built home please find a shelter. 

Airports will likely be shutting down tonight, currently Orlando International plans on stopping flights at 5 PM today. Not surprisingly the area theme parks are also closing. Full details on the parks plans can be found here. Most local grocery stores will be closing either 8 PM tonight or by noon tomorrow local news is reporting. You should already have your supplies but if you do not go now and hope you find something. I can confirm that bottled water and bread as well as canned goods are hard to find. This is a serious storm and people have heeded the warning. 

Now for the storm itself, the path has moved further west. This is not really a good thing for Florida. The west coast is low lying and highly dense as far as population. I may fare a bit better inland but it is way to early to tell. Right now we are waiting for the storm to make its predicted turn north. Once that occurs we should have a better idea where this will hit. Considering the size of this hurricane it won’t matter much, its going to be a wild ride regardless. I will post the latest track and models as well as the most recent discussion about Irma from the National Hurricane Center. For after the storm here is the link to FEMA’s website for those that will need assistance. Stay safe everyone, I may make another post time permitting before weather deteriorates.

The latest computer models, showing it pushing to Florida’s west coast.

And here is the forecast path from Weather Underground.

Irma continues collision course with Florida

It is time for my daily update on  hurricane Irma. Chances are good this will dominate the content on this blog until it runs it’s course. Living in Florida and having most of my friends and family here has made this a top priority. I am going to post updates as they become available. Please stay tuned.

For those tracking the storm the latest from weather underground is here. I do wish to state that there is no need to panic. I am already seeing reports of I-75 and I-95 backing up. Even worse are reports of disabled vehicles being left on the roads complicating matters for highway patrol. It seems that out of market news stations are pushing the evacuate agenda. Though it sounds nice the fact remains that there are only two interstate highways that leave the state to the north. We need to keep the roadways open for those that have to evacuate. I have even seen a story showing that Jet Blue is offering $99 flights. If you are not in an evacuation zone and really want out I suggest that. 

I plan to stay put myself, I am inland so storm surge is not a concern. Not living in a mobile home or in a low lying area makes this possible. Those seeking storm supplies should do so now, stores are already picked over when it comes to the essentials. Water, batteries, and non perishable foods should be a top concern. I will post this list of supplies you should have ready. This is not my first rodeo, I know what to get. I have seen reports of local hotels offering discounted rates for evacuees. I must say I am impressed, I hate to speak poorly of hotels but my experience is they raise the rates at the fist sign of demand. Kudos to them for not using this to line their coffers. I mentioned flights earlier, as of now OIA is undecided on their weekend course of action.

I don’t have many other updates, here is a listing of the latest school closings. For those in areas that will need to evacuate shelters are not open yet. I will provide a few links I found with shelter information. Those in central Florida check here and here. For a statewide listing check the official Florida disaster site here. That is all I have for now, below is the latest storm track from NOAA as well as the latest computer models. The shift east is promising, but it is too early to say for sure where this storm will go.

Here is the latest computer models.

Hurricane Irma threatens Florida

I wish I had something more positive to write about. Believe me I would much rather be making a post about Linux or even one of my hobbies or adventures. Times are more serious however with hurricane Irma on a collision course with my home state. If you have not figured out by know I am in central Florida. Looking at the latest storm tracks from NOAA here and the weather underground track and computer models here it looks to be a safe bet Florida is impacted. I will post more here as the situation develops. Knowing from experience these things change course, stay tuned for more updates. Hopefully Irma misses the state or has minimal impact. Forecasts make that seem unlikely. This is a serious Category 5 storm that can not be ignored. 

Florida governor Rick Scott has already placed all 67 counties under a state of emergency. The only mandatory evacuations have been for Monroe county and the keys, more are likely to come. I would suggest that anyone living on the coast, in a low lying area, or a mobile home have a plan in order. Those staying can already get sandbags to protect your property. If you need more information on that check CF news 13 here or WFTV’s link here.  Local schools are already making decisions about closures, for those closer to Tampa this link has the latest closures. Those living in the Orlando area be sure to check here

Be sure to have your local emergency management contact information handy. For those in Seminole county that is found here. In Orange county you can check here for information. Central Florida shelters are not open yet but as that information becomes available I will post it. For the entire states emergency management check here, though I must report at the time of this posting they were already receiving more traffic than they could handle. Though I encourage you to call only in case of emergency here is the Orange county sheriff’s office number (407-254-7000). For those in Seminole county that number is (407-655-1450). If you are in Lake use (352-343-2101), and for my family down in Highlands county use (863-402-7200). Again only use these if needed but I wanted to get the information out now. More sites will probably suffer outages due to traffic load as this beast approaches.

Here is the most recent track from NOAA.

Because you can’t take things too seriously a bit of comic relief.