Irma Wasn’t Enough? Here Comes Maria.

As I write this, Hurricane Maria is riding across Dominica and other Caribbean islands, trying to destroy whatever Irma left standing. I cannot imagine what it must be like for the residents of those small islands. Maria has been gaining and losing intensity, in the sense that it’s going back and forth between Category 4 and Category 5. Neither of those is something you want to see coming at you.

Sometime Wednesday, Maria will hit Puerto Rico (the red blob in the center of the storm track). We are of course worried about our friends and the family property in Ponce. The current predicted storm track looks as though it will hit San Juan hardest, but will likely also hit the southern coast of Puerto Rico harder than Irma did. All we can do is wait and pray.

Here’s a stunning and sobering video composition of Irma, Katia, and Jose as seen from a new NOAA weather satellite, GOES-16.

Click to view the video on the NY Times website. Do it. It’s worth it. Be sure to scroll down the page, as there are several video perspectives. These amazing images are from a satellite that’s not yet even fully operational.

Do we really want to cut funding for this kind of science? (The current administration does.) Or are we ready to take seriously the problem of global climate change?

Hurricane Irma, Round Two


Irma Round One (Puerto Rico) left us with gratifying news for our family—friends and neighbors okay, and the house in good shape. We’re still awaiting a detailed report, but word is that the south side of the island didn’t get hit too badly. If there was any damage to the house, we haven’t heard about it yet and it’s unlikely to be serious. We’re keeping an eye on Jose, but it seems to be sheering away.

With that worry down, we turn our attention to Florida, where my brother will be first to feel the effects, near Miami, and then right up the length of the state, where we have family and friends in various locations. Chuck and Youngmee and the dogs are hunkered down in place, having decided that they’re probably as safe in their own house as anywhere on the road or in upstate Florida, given that the whole state is in the hurricane’s crosshairs. The late shift toward the west is good news for them, though not so good for folks on the Gulf Coast. Keeping all appendages crossed, and praying for everyone’s safety!

(Image from National Hurricane Center/NOAA)

Hurricane Irma Looms

One mean hurricane is barely past, and now another is bearing down, this one on the Caribbean Islands and South Florida. I was just in Miami celebrating my brother Chuck’s 70th birthday, and all was peaceful. Maybe not much longer.

But before that, the islands are squarely in the storm track, with Puerto Rico first to be hit. Some of you will have read my chronicles of our work on my mother-in-law’s house in Puerto Rico. I guess all that new work is about to be tested. We can’t be there to help batten things down, so here’s hoping our faithful steward can do what needs to be done. (Of course, that’s just property. There are a whole lot of people of limited means down there who are staring down the barrel of this thing with everything to lose.)

Crossed fingers, blessings, best wishes, and prayers for everyone in the line of fire for this one. As well as for those still reeling from the effects of Harvey.

This Is April?

I thought I was done with the snow blower. I was this close to taking all the snow shovels off the porch and putting them away for the year. And now this…

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Landshark looking for sun

 

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About eight inches of wet, stick-to-the-shovel snow.

(I hope Allysen is enjoying the Puerto Rico sun!)

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Whose woods these are I think I know.
We’re s’posed to be in Springtime, though.

Frozen Pipes!

Frozen pipes in Boston!

Cripes, here I am, reporting on our adventures in the tropics—while here in the Boston area, it is now -10 degrees Fahrenheit, and windy! (Real feel -41!) So much for our unseasonably warm weather. Unbeknownst to me, two windows in our basement had blown open, and the whole basement was a deep freeze. It was about 1 a.m. when I noticed no water from the faucet and went running down to discover this.

Two hours later, after screwing the windows shut, setting up space heaters, and running a heat gun over the pipes near where they come into the house, we have water flowing again in most of the taps (still just a trickle in the kitchen faucet). Thank God, we seem to have escaped without any burst pipes. Wow. Let this still be true in the morning. We gonna leave those taps trickling right through the night.

Next day: Everything good, sort of. The kitchen faucet wasn’t frozen; it was blocked by a slug of grit that must have been sent up the pipes when things released. Which probably also explains the slow-filling toilet tank, which I’ll have to look at tomorrow. And the water meter is dripping into the frozen sump area, so I’ll need to call the water department as soon as they’re open. But no burst pipes!

 

Ponce Chronicles Called Due to Snow

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Doesn’t look like much, but it was six inches of wet, gluey, sludgy, icy snow to move. It’s what I spent a good part of the day doing.

The Ponce Chronicles will resume tomorrow. Assuming we don’t get more of the same.

Here’s kind of an eerie view that I got while walking Captain Jack in the evening. The trees were cloaked with heavy layers of snow, a little unnerving to walk under.

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Yesterday…and Today

Yesterday I looked down from my third-floor office window and realized that the back side of our garage was just as heavily laden with snow as the side I’d laboriously cleared the other day. My camera arm wasn’t long enough to show it, but here I am literally standing in snow up to my waist, in the backyard neighbor’s yard, raking at the roof. The word roof-rake wasn’t even in my vocabulary a year ago!

And let me tell you, that snow had hardened! I wish I had gone at it when it was fresh powder. But after I’d cleared it and stood inside the garage looking up at the old rafters, I thanked God that the structure was still standing.

Today the temperature is 37 degrees, and things are finally melting!

It’s gonna get cold again real soon. Subzero low predicted for Monday night. Some days I feel as if I’m living on one of those alien worlds I write about.

A Glacier on the Garage Roof

What with all the warnings (and news reports) about roofs collapsing under the weight of all the snow we’ve received this month, I finally decided it was time to do something about this huge snow cap on our garage roof. It has compressed down and hardened over the last week or two—and they are predicting wet snow or “wintry mix” this weekend. That’s a lot of weight on aging timbers.

Armed with our new roof rake from Ace Is the Place, we set to work. First, I had to carve something resembling a path to a point in the back yard from which we could work. This meant using the snow blower to tunnel into the mountain ridge that walls the Valley of the Snowba. Good news! My new carburetor arrived from China yesterday, and the old Snowba  runs like a new machine now! Let’s hear it for Chinese manufacturing! (Actually, I spent about an hour trying to MacGyver a choke control, because the choke assembly on the new carb does not even remotely match the one on the old carb. Finally I gave up and tried starting it with no choke at all. It blasted off on the first pull!)

Anyway, here’s what it all looked like. I spent 2-3 hours out there, and let me tell you, I was ready for some brandy in my coffee when I got back inside.

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