The Hurricanes Return!

After a dozen years or so Hurricane Drought, we’ve got them back in more normal numbers. Hurricanes are formed with the sea is warm enough relative to the air to cause a water vapor instability that cascades into a “circle down the drain” heat transport; but where the drain is “to space” up in the stratosphere. Since the sun went quiet, the upper air has gotten colder, so now the heat that built up in the oceans during high UV times needs to be dumped. I expect active hurricane seasons until the waters get cold enough to balance the colder air aloft.

Harvey did a number on Texas
(and cancelled my drive to Florida… flew from Chicago instead).

Irma was arriving just as I flew out of Florida back to Chicago.

Now we’ve got Jose (per: forming up.

So here’s a place to talk about all things Hurricane Related this (late) season. I’ll be adding some bits over time if I get the time.

FWIW, on the drive back Diesel prices were about 10 ¢ / gallon higher than on the way out. Gasoline moved more but I don’t have exact numbers. Looks like in a real Aw Shit! that Diesel price and availability are more stable… Just sayin’…

The discussion began here:

On Sept. 5th just as I was getting on an airplane in Orlando… (Minor gripe on that: I got TSA Pre-Check for these 2 flights, to and from Orlando. In Chicago, no problem. Shoes on, laptops left in bags. In Orlando, guy insists on shoes off and electronics in one bin each, slowing the whole thing down and making it The Same As NON_Pre-Check. WT? So what’s wrong with Orlando?… Oh Well, the line was shorter…)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in AGW and Weather News Events, News Related and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

77 Responses to The Hurricanes Return!

  1. Tregonsee says:

    Just heard the latest five day forecast for Miami: Two days.

    Sorry for the gallows humor. I rode out Donna in 1960 in Central Florida. Estimated to have been a CAT 3 where we were, fortunately high ground by Florida standards. Not something I would wish on anyone.

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  3. Steven Fraser says:

    Joe Bastardi has been commenting recently about the busy Atlantic, but the completely quiet aspect in the Pacific right now.

  4. Larry Ledwick says:

    Latest NCAR info shows they are expecting Irma to run up the gulf coast side of Florida, which might take a bit of the heat off of Miami.

  5. David A says:

    I like it…,it is a water mass transport phase change world….of heat pipes.

    Willis has a post on WUWT right now.

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    @David A:

    Just sayin’… ;-)


    Having just left Orlando Sept 5th, I’m watching this one closely. At this point it could still go either side or right up the middle (with the odd small possible of ‘somewhere else’). Also, being wider than all of Florida and with winds and surge stronger on the right side, going up the left coast is not going to spare the rest of Florida from at least Tropical Storm force winds.

    Tomorrow will be a bit more deterministic, but Sunday is when we ought to know.


    But I like gallows humor! 8-}

    Sign by roadside: “For Sale, 10 Acres Palm Beach Ocean Front Property. Presently located in Wellington Florida…”

    (Wellington is a town inland many miles from West Palm Beach…)

    FWIW, I did the hurricane recovery spreadsheet for Disney. What applications in what order recovered by what people with full contact info. Unfortunately, just after that they laid off a bunch of the folks who had clue about the applications and were the “go to guys” on that plan / list. Including letting my contract run out. I’d love to be there now implementing what we planned. I get a peculiar joy out of recovering from disasters with nobody noticing what all was done (the “magic” of it…) but it will be some other person’s problem now. Hope they kept it updated…

    Maybe I’ll drop them a resume after the storm passes ;-‘]

    @Steven Fraser:

    Odd. Pacific quiet, eh? Wonder if they are linked somehow…


    On one of the news shows tonight they said Barbuda was basically wiped out and hurricane Jose was coming in for the double tap and to clean out the debris… All population being evacuated to some other island nearby. IIRC it was the BBC (since American news only reports on Florida… )

    Looks like watching Jose will be an interesting experience…

  7. David A says:

    Does anyone have expertise on measuring history of hurricanes?

    We appear to have gone from alley ground based anemonitors to about 1950s flying into storms, to satellites with various instruments for each of the three methods. I have found out the plane readings we get are based on 10 sec duration, not one minute sustained as in ground based 10 m readings. I do not know the duration of the dropsondes also delivered from hurricane flights. I do not know how the recording instruments have changed.

    All of this leaves one very large question as to how to compare the labor day hurricane some 82 years ago to Irma, or Harvey, which on ground based only readings was likely a CAT 2. Or how to compare modern “ACE” measurements to past active seasons.

    It appears obvious that past tropical systems were underestimated relative to today, and possible that even 1970s and later systems and events were under sampled and recorded relative to today’s 24 -7 monitoring and computer analysis. Yet with billions spent on CAGW research, this has not been done. ( Leif S did this with sunspots, but I guess we cannot do this now as the answers don’t fit the narrative)

  8. David A says:

    E.M. copy to W.E. WUWT post

    The heat pipe post and comments are excellent. Yes the climate models give a wag to this, but they do not take into account the exponential increase of the percentage of how much energy goes into phase change heat transport from any increase in surface input, be it SW or LWIR.

    In particular the LWIR GHG increase is all absorbed at the water ” skin” level, so must go onto the work of accelerating the hydrological cycle.

  9. Ralph B says:

    We bugged out yesterday (I live in Punta Gorda). Watched an army of powerline trucks and tree trimming trucks headed south to pre-stage. Although many refuse to believe it, We live in a great country.

  10. Larry Ledwick says:

    All of this leaves one very large question as to how to compare the labor day hurricane some 82 years ago to Irma, or Harvey, which on ground based only readings was likely a CAT 2. Or how to compare modern “ACE” measurements to past active seasons.

    I think the only relatively consistent way to compare the storms would be using the low central barometric pressure as your index, because as you say numbers from very different measurement processes are not directly comparable and simply ignored.

    Doppler radar wind speed does not equal spinning cup anemometer does not equal hot wire airflow anemometer, does not equal little propeller anemometer (ie kestral), does equal drop sond does not equal wind damage estimates comparing buildings built to 1935 codes compared to buildings built to late 1990’s early 2000’s building codes and materials.

  11. Larry Ledwick says:

    Looks like models are converging on a track that will basically run down the spine of Florida with a slight bias to the gulf side.

  12. cdquarles says:

    @Steven, that ‘bi-modal’ aspect is not unusual. Most years, it seems, when the eastern Pacific is active, the Atlantic isn’t; and vice-versa. That may be related to the Madden-Julien Oscillation.

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    @David A:

    Yeah, historically they were measured at or shortly after landfall – so a lot of “Cat 2” and “Cat 3” where in fact Cat 4 and Cat 5 offshore. Now we get minute by minute call of Cat level 1000 miles out to sea and with single MPH precision.

    Modern hurricanes are much much “worse than we thought” largely due to the fact we now know they were a Cat 5 in the mid-Atlantic… Maybe we ought to just use crappier instruments and make the storms more weak like they were in the past ;-) /sarc;

    @Ralph B:

    About a decade? ago I was bugging out and passed a small army of Power & Light trucks parked by the side of I-10 up in the panhandle. Had State plates and company names from all over the South. I suspect some kind of mutual aid agreement; but could just be “they know” and “do what needs doing”. Make a guy feel guilty for not pulling over and saying “I have wiring experience, where you want me?”… but I had a load of stuff to deliver elsewhere… Besides, they looked fully staffed up and I didn’t have safety gear with me.


    Madden-Julian is my “dig here”? Got it… (for after lunch digging…)


    In a way, straight up the spine is better as it gets starved of water vapor much much faster. Worst is eye just off shore and right side winds consistent for days with a slow crawl up the coast.

    I’m still hoping (knowing it won’t happen…) for a ‘drift off into the gulf and spin down’… (I think we’re too late for a ‘turn out into the Atlantic and die’ without a massive bit of destruction crossing the State…

    Well, my friends in Orlando have the best shot at being OK. Far enough inland things are (almost) always Tropical Storm when they get there. (Though Charlie stayed a weak hurricane…) and they have a safe room. Wish I was there with them (both to help and for my first experience of a strong storm up close) but the spouse wouldn’t hear of it…


    Small point to ponder: Keys, to Miami, to Tampa under evacuation. Pensacola looks like the distance needed to be pretty much out of the danger zone. From Key Largo to Pensacola is 735 miles. I put that at 3 charge / discharge cycles of a Tesla (bigger battery model). So, the question:

    Just how do you evacuate the State in an eCar? Leave a week early? Leave the car behind? Plan 3 days with overnight charging at hotels and rest stops to get out?

    With my Diesel I do that run in about 10 to 11 hours. 1.6 to 1.8 tanks of fuel.

    Then, after it is over, when everyone is going back in, how do you get back? Electricity can be down for days (weeks in some places). Until grid power is back up and local charging stations restored, you have a nice brick with stereo…

    I’d be happy to own an eCar in Miami, but only as a disposable 2nd car. I’d still want a large tank Diesel as my Bug-out Beast. I think Tesla sales in Florida will not be strong…

  14. Ralph B says:

    EM, that typical 10 hr run is 16 with these traffic conditions. No way an all e car could do it. Our Murano can go 450 miles between fill-ups without a sweat…AC cranked. We drove for 19 hrs yesterday

  15. Steven Fraser says:

    @CD: Joe Bastardi made some mention of the MJO as well, in discussing his forecast last spring that this would be an active Atlantic season.

  16. Steven Fraser says:

    @David A: Are their numbers out there on the amount of Upwelling LW fro the ocean?

  17. gallopingcamel says:

    I am pretty happy since the tracks moved west. Now there is a much better chance that my house (Melbourne area) will still be there on Tuesday.
    None of us had to evacuate as we moved out in June to live in North Carolina. While we have a contract to sell the house we failed to “Close” last week. Your prayers may help.

  18. beththeserf says:

    All the best gallopingcamel.

  19. E.M.Smith says:

    @Ralph B:

    You have my condolences… I know what “Buns Of Steel” feels like after a double shift in the drivers seat… Hopefully you found a place serving “cold ones”…

    @Steven Fraser:

    IS there “upwelling LW” from the ocean? Seems pretty cold and non-radiative to me, but maybe that’s a California Thing as our ocean is about 45 F and turns you blue…


    May your house stay standing with nary a scratch and my your sale close quickly with housing in high demand… Amen.

    From my reading of the news you will get Tropical Storm force winds, and the house ought to have been through them many times in the past.


    Latest weather station reports have the eye rate of travel slowing. Perhaps it will move a bit more west before turning up north and miss a direct crawl up the Florida coast… I’d not wish it on Texas, OTOH, having it spin out of power by cooling the central Gulf for a few weeks would not be so bad…

  20. Larry Ledwick says:

    It is starting to rev up again as it gets clear of Cuba, back to Cat 4 now, 40 miles off the coast of Cuba.

  21. Glenn999 says:

    Riding the Storm out
    Waiting for the Fallout

  22. David A says:

    Larry that is an extremely amped up opacity image.

    Irma landfall between Key West and Vaca key. Both NDBC stations less than 60 knots sustained winds.
    Wind speed measured by surface anemometers nearest the eyewall are showing less than hurricane threshold for the Saffir-Simpson scale which is 64 knots.
    Looking at radar the heaviest band in the storm is to the east at Fowey Rock NDBC station FWYF1 that has anemometer height of 44 meters above sea level. The 7am recording shows maximum sustained winds of 63 knots. Time plots at any of the NDBC stations show all surface winds below hurricane.
    Vaca key station nearest the east side of the eyewall shows 46 knots measured by anemometer 9.6 meters above sea level.
    No surprise that the NHC and the hysterical media are claiming Category 4 at the same time.
    Real time videos of reporters standing around show palm trees in winds consistent with the NDBC stations which are tropical storm force winds.

    Just sayin.

  23. David A says:

    Go to the link. 258 readings updated today. The highest gust was 81 knots. Zero sustained cat 1 readings.

  24. E.M.Smith says:

    @David A:

    Verrrry Interrreshting…..

    I’m sure the media and NOAA would never be cooking the books to support a Worst Storm Ever! narrative… /sarc;

    So now we have two watches so don’t know what time it is…

    (“A man with 1 watch knows what time it is; a man with 2 is never sure….”)

    So where do we find the truth? I guess we wait for damage reports…

  25. philjourdan says:

    I did the pre-check in Orlando as well. The line was not shorter, but moved faster as they did not force you to remove your shoes and laptop. I guess it is at the whim of the TSA agent.

  26. Larry Ledwick says: doppler radar image is showing radial approach velocities on the Miami radar max near 55 mph – 60 mph at 2:00 pm EDT

  27. Larry Ledwick says:

    See if this link is visible to you folks, Miami Doppler at this time.

  28. Larry Ledwick says:

    If you zoom into the,21.40,3000/loc=-80.920,25.013

    image you can click on locations and get wind speeds, the highest I can find right now is along the eye wall on the east side of the storm and it is giving a wind speed of 161 km/h (99.82 mph)

  29. Larry Ledwick says:

    Just a note about doppler radar those average radial wind velocities are only directly toward or directly away from the radar, so the closest you can get to a true wind speed is to use the base doppler radar and check wind speeds at right angles to the vector from the radar to the point you are trying to figure out the local wind speed for.

    Second due to beam tilt, (elevation angle of the radar) the altitude of the air parcel being measured will be at higher altitudes the farther you get from the radar.

    The parcel size being averaged will also get larger due to beam spread with distance, so these will not be identical to true ground based anemometer readings at standard height.

  30. Larry Ledwick says:

    Keywest doppler radar just went unavailable.

    Tampa Radar is showing the eye of the storm will likely track right over the Naples area in about an hour or two.

  31. Larry Ledwick says:

    Water levels beginning to rise as Irma approaches the coast near Naples.
    This graphic listing winds at 120 with gusts to 160

  32. Larry Ledwick says:

    Some interesting plots, barometer at Naples is at 943.6 mb, winds 37.71 Kn, with gusts to 62.01 kn

  33. David A says:

    Eye collapsing now.
    Cat 2

  34. Glenn999 says:

    Down to a Cat 2. This should help avoiding a repeat of a bad journey from Kansas to Oz. Winds expected here to max out at 80mph.

  35. Pouncer says:

    So if you had to evacuate Miami in an electric car, could you get past Orlando before you had to overnight for a recharge?

  36. David A says:

    Curious how quickly the eye collapsed coming onshore. The satellite doppler showed it fragment and expand, like a last gasp, or a death rattle.
    Check various Florida wind gauges shows that shortly after this the outer bands on the east coast did not weaken at all, but were in fact then stronger then where the central rotation was. Well, it still was the center, but not much happening there.

  37. E.M.Smith says:


    Miami International Airport to Orlando International is 232 miles. So that’s about how far the lower range eCars can go. Now the Better Telsa is supposed to go 330 miles (or something like that). For that one, you can get all the way to St. Augustine at 319 miles but not quite to Jacksonville at 346 miles.

    Yeah… if you own an eCar in Florida and live Miami or further south, you can’t get out of the State without a full discharge and some amount of recharge.

    Now there are some “fast charge” stations. Here in “over the top” Silicon Valley, I know of about 1/2 dozen. (There may be more, these are just the ones I’ve found). 2 are at a local Walmart (but not at the other three Walmarts I shop at most) and the others at a Whole Foods outlet near the Shark Tank (Hockey arena). Don’t know how you would charge more than a couple of dozen cars with that…

    shows a fair number of stations along the I-95 bugout route, so it is possible to make the run. (As you zoom in the map it shows more stations). It would require some planning to do, has difficulty (fewer choices) crossing from coast to coast inland, and would be prone to too many cars all going one-way being way more than typical capacity. Oh, and it requires that the storm not have knocked out electricity already. And remember to schedule your hurricane bugout for just after you have fully charged at home…

    Getting out, you could just leave a couple of days earlier. Getting back, well, I think you get to wait until power is restored along your entire route…

  38. E.M.Smith says:

    @David A:

    Once the inward (turning upward in the eye) air flow gets disrupted, you don’t have the “spinning skater pulling in their arms” effect increasing velocity. It all just turns into linear winds and spreads out to die. It must have lots of warm water vapor to keep the air density down and the central column rising and the spiral going. Cut that off, it runs out of gas (vapor…) rapidly.

    Hurricanes are the moral equivalent of water down the drain; just it is hot vapor up the drain to the stratospheric IR dump to space. Land just puts a plug in the vapor drain. The tub spins a tiny bit after that, but it is dissipating its rotation and energy then. The heat engine has been shut off and it is coasting to a halt.

  39. p.g.sharrow says:

    8-) after 70 years I get it! How a cyclonic storm works. DUH! pg the drain is UP! Thanks guys.
    Even after 70 years I’m still discovering new things…pg

  40. E.M.Smith says:


    Interesting…. Looks like the different eCars use different plugs… So you need to find a station that matches your vendor. Many of the stations shown on the map are Tesla Supercharger stations, so not so useful for those Volt owners… Looking up the Supercharger, it has some limits too:

    The Supercharger is a proprietary direct current (DC) technology that provides up to 120 kW of power per car (depending on circumstances), giving the 90 kWh Model S an additional 170 miles (270 km) of range in about 30 minutes charge and a full charge in around 75 minutes.

    So figure most folks will be doing the short charge and go, they can get all of 170 miles further then they need to charge again.


    The power max is split between all cars connected, so with all spigots filled in a bug-out, your charge time is longer or your added range per unit time charging is less:

    Tesla supercharging stations charge with up to 145 kW of power distributed between two adjacent cars, with a maximum of 120 kW per car. That is up to 16 times as fast as public charging stations; they take about 20 minutes to charge to 50%, 40 minutes to charge to 80%, and 75 minutes to 100%.

    So 72 kW / car when two are charging so 120/72 = 1.66 x as long or 33 minutes to 1/2 full and 1 hour 6 minutes to 80%. 2 hours 5 minutes to full charge. That means it can service about 24 / 2 = 12 charge cycles x 2 cars = 24 cars / day to full charge. 24 / 1/2 = 48 charge cycles x 2 = 96 cars to half charged. Per day. IF 100 Tesla cars try to bug out at once and need to use the same charging station at the midway point, someone gets stuck to the next day to charge even if everyone limits to a 1/2 charge and go…

    I’d wager that the Tesla dealer in Miami area is expected to sell far more than 100 cars total and probably way over 100 per year…

    I think I see a logistics issue in eCar evacuation efforts…

  41. Larry Ledwick says:

    Just tow a portable generator behind your electric car and a couple cans to gas, problem solved ;)

    Or you could bug out with the local welder and use his welding rig to charge your car.

    You think waiting lines are long for a 2 minute gasoline fill wait until you see the lines for a 5-6 hour recharge. That means a charging station at limit of range could only recharge 4-5 cars a day from full discharge to fully charged.2x that if a 1/2 charge is adequate to get out of the evacuation area.

  42. E.M.Smith says:


    Realize my numbers were for the proprietary Tesla DC Supercharger. “Public” chargers are much slower… so it’s a ‘Dig Here!” to find charging times for them. The map shows about the same number of them as Tesla stations, so they are going to be a problem for all those Nissan and Volt drivers…

    Oh, and what happens when water covers your 140 VDC battery, anyway? 8-0

  43. E.M.Smith says:

    Looks like Florida is entering the recovery phase. Folks in the Keys being told it will be days to perhaps weeks to get back in. Someone needs to tell the Gov’t that islands can be reached by boat… (or maybe not tell them… but I think a local water taxi service is likely to sprout for a week or two….)

    If they want to convince folks not to ‘ride it out’, they need to not lock them out for weeks after it is over… I know I’m seeing this thinking if I ever live on the keys, I’m adding a hardened structure (water proof…) and plans for riding it out instead of leaving. They interviewed one lady on the keys who rode it out and she was saying how sorry she felt for those who left as the ones who stayed can start right in cleaning up and getting their lives back.

    Seems to me that a well anchored “garage” with well gasketted doors, no windows or windows with steel shutters with good gaskets, and a nice snorkel air system, all inside foot thick rebar/ concrete ought to do it. (Why the garage? Likely a lot less hassle with building code demands on ‘occupied’ spaces… just say you want to protect your ‘classic cars’ as you bug out…)

    Jose looks to be doing a one week circle in place out to sea while waiting for the water to warm up again…

  44. Larry Ledwick says:

    Cool power outage picture of Florida after Irma from twitter

    Andrew Buck Michael‏Verified account @AndrewWSYX6

    FLORIDA POWER OUTAGES – Check out the difference in lights on a normal night vs last night for S. Florida. #Irma. Courtesy NOAA JPSS/CIMSS

  45. Ralph B says:

    Well my house made it through with only minor damage. Our papaya tree has been laid to rest. Amazing though was my house is one of the few that never lost power.

  46. E.M.Smith says:

    My Florida Friend never lost power in Orlando either. Still waiting to hear if his kids place in Jacksonville flooded or not (kid evacuated to the Orlando place prior to impact).

    He didn’t say if it was utility power or if the community generator was providing the power. They have a diesel standby generator that runs the place when utility power is out. Yeah, upscale…


    Interesting pictures. I wonder how much of that ‘post’ lighting is only vehicle headlights… utilities out but folks with cars and generators…

  47. Another Ian says:

    “E.M.Smith says:
    10 September 2017 at 5:22 pm

    @David A:

    Verrrry Interrreshting…..

    I’m sure the media and NOAA would never be cooking the books to support a Worst Storm Ever! narrative… /sarc;”

    They’ll maybe follow this model

  48. Larry Ledwick says:

    Looks like TS Maria is expected to follow essentially the same track as Irma.
    The islands that got shredded by Irma will have a new round of destruction soon if this pans out.

  49. Ralph B says: I have been following this guy for a while (nowhere near as long as EM). He does a good job of breaking down what steers the storms and what to expect

  50. philjourdan says:

    @Larry – I heard Barbuda is still empty. Everyone left. And I guess they are not coming back soon with Maria on the war path.

  51. E.M.Smith says:

    @Ralph B:

    I’ve wondered about “steering currents” and such. Thanks for the pointer.


    Yes, Barbuda was evacuated to Antigua (mostly) as it was essentially scrubbed flat. As it was an evacuation, there wasn’t a set of return flights / ships.

    I think it will be another month or two before folks are ready to think about returning to the rubble.

    Maria currently lined up for a direct hit on Puerto Rico as a Cat 4. Hopefully it will move just a bit off shore and not scrub Puerto Rico…

    Both British and US Virgin Islands also partly rubblized. This is just going to finish the job if it hits them again.

    Frankly, all the islands in that arc are likely to be dramatically ruined by the end of this season.

  52. Glenn999 says:

    Finally. Only 7 1/2 days without power from the energy company…got a new perspective now.

  53. E.M.Smith says:


    You need never have zero electric power…

    Just sayin’…

    You likely already knew this, but it might help others prepare.

  54. Glenn999 says:

    Thanks EM, I was thinking of you and your articles on emergency prep stuff. I didn’t have a generator until day 3, and by then it was easy to get gasoline. Also had propane and a fire going all week. Also had pumped at least 200 gallons of water, some stored in seal containers.

    Now that I have internet again, I plan on reading up on future preparations to make.
    Thanks again.
    Believe it or not, I do have an inverter, but just couldn’t find it in time:}

  55. philjourdan says:

    Welcome back Glenn999! It took 10 days for me with Isabel. But that was before smart phones, so now I do not care about Internet and I have a generator. :-)

  56. David A says:

    Glenn, where in Florida are you. What kind of damage do you see?

    Glad you are home and hope all is well.

  57. Glenn999 says:

    Thanks Phil
    Now my goal is to become a prepper.

  58. Glenn999 says:

    David A
    Between Gainesville and Ocala
    Mainly tree limbs taking out power lines. Lots of trees down in various areas. Lost at least a dozen trees in my yard, possibly caused by a small twister.
    Never left home, but was prepared to leave if it was Cat 3 or higher.
    Thanks for the good thoughts.

  59. E.M.Smith says:


    Florida Friend, near Clermont, said the eye went over as a Cat1 but all is well. Just trees and power lines… His cluster of houses is on a shared big diesel generator during emergencies, so they only had the 5 secord start up drop.

    Per Prep:

    Take things in order of time to die… air first, water second, exposure, then food last… (so fume filter hood for fire escspe, water filter and stored water, then food). Most folks can go a month or two without food if they have a multivitamin pill and water. 2 to 4 days without water. Exposure can be hours to weeks, but Florida generally isn’t 40 below… a couple of minutes for air….

    Food increases water demand, so if short of water, start fasting.

    A good camping water pump filter can turn all that rain and flood into drink, buy one.

    Hip wader snd a storm coat makes you nearly waterproof. Or a wetsuit. (I used mine in a blizzard once… ever walk into a restaurant in a wetsuit and parka and order hot coffee? I have…) I have a rain suit I travel with now. A heavy coat under it and I’m a portable tent & sleeping bag :-)

    I have a Go Bag and a Go Box. The bag is usually in the car or my room if on the road. The box is at home. IFF I must abandon home, I grab the box and go. If there is time, secondary things are in secondary boxes (plastic tubs with handles.. I’d use locking top gasket seal in Florida…).

    $200 gets you 90% of the needs. The rest just adds time and comfort.

    My definition of Prepper:

    Someone who survived The Very Bad Thing once and knows it will come again someday…

    For me, it was a night alone in a blizzard in the car and a Great Quake with the family… I now always toss a coat in the car when driving anywhere, always have a knife and tool kit, and usually put a flat of water bottles in the car for longer trips. Oh, and the power and light kit… That is all in addition to the red daypack emergency kit that is the Go Bag.

    At least 2 x 30 gal barrels of water in the back yard too… Our pantry and fridge are generally stocked enough for a couple of months, though after couple of weeks, you’re talking rice and lentil curry over ramen :-)

  60. Larry Ledwick says:

    Yep – pretty much my approach, got snow bound in Wyoming for 3 days once in 1970’s nearly had to spend the night in the car in blizzard conditions but a helpful trucker pulled me out and I limped into Rock Springs Wyoming at 4:00 am. Spent 3 days in a motel room with a snow drift under the front door, and room temp in the 50’s with the heat maxed out. A few other similar events have reinforced that experience and added minor details to the list of preps.

    I keep a go bag and a duffle bag full of cold weather gear and a change of cloths in the car year round. When the snow starts to fly, I add a snow shovel and a few other things. The car always has a small stash of single serving cans (pork and beans etc) in it plus a few pouches of instant mashed potato flakes (don’t even have to cook them if you have water). Car also always has a couple gallons of water in it, and the go bag has a water filter kit in it.

    If on a long trip I have a small tub that has a 1000 watt inverter in it I picked up at a truck stop a power strip, a smaller 475 watt inverter and a 100 watt cigarette plug inverter and some essential adapter cords for charging things, plus a cold weather rated extension cord. (in northern parts of the country at -30 deg F normal extension cords get stiff as piece of copper tubing, almost impossible to straighten. The gear tub in the van also has a single burner propane stove and 2 propane bottles, plus other things like a small camping cook kit, a couple cans of sterno and a couple large candles, a couple butane lighters and flashlights etc.

    Home I have a well stocked pantry and enough other stuff to be completely self sufficient for more than a month if need be.

    I never leave the house without the following stuff in my pockets except rare dress up occasions, and even then I have the same sort of stuff in the car glove box.
    Pocket knife, butane lighter, small LED flashlight, cell phone, and a leatherman type multi tool pliers on my belt for personal daily carry gear.

    When I got stranded in Bonneville a year ago when my car died, it was no big deal I just hung out at the car for a few days until I could arrange for a rental truck and car trailer to bring the van home.

    The basics are really simple and take up very little room. If traveling toss an old sleeping bag in the trunk (watch for sales this time of year as they clear out summer camping gear) and a change of cloths and you are good to go and handle most any problem. That sort of prep means you can wait out almost any sort of problem like flooding.

    In Sept 2013 coming home from Bonneville I drove over a bridge that was closed just an hour or so after I crossed it, due to high water. (standing water on the road was about 2″ when I went through early in the morning) every bridge across that river was closed for about 50 miles for a day or two after. I almost got stuck on the wrong side of the river and if I had decided to come home early just a bit later I would have had to be a road side refugee for a couple days as there was no practical way around the flooding until they opened the bridges.

  61. David A says:

    The “super doppler Amarillo site I linked to is excellent for the many layers including the opacity, allowing one to see the land clearly. Maria was on the southern most track, yet as veered a bit north now. Potentially very good for Puerto Rico if it can go North as far as needed to avoid the NE quadrant.
    However a direct hit on the Virgin Islands looks very likely now. Very tight well formed eye.

  62. Larry Ledwick says:

    Windy is also a good way to see what the storm is doing by playing with the options over on the right side of the panel for wind, radar or wave height.,-65.090,9

  63. David A says:

    Larry I downloaded that the last time you linked it. Look at the windshield for Jose. It shows the gradient backwards going into the center. I am not certain how they are still calling Jose a hurricane. BTW, the super doppler site also has a wind field layer.

  64. E.M.Smith says:

    I usually only load food in the car at the start of trips.. in the valley, I can just strap on the pack and walk home. Usual starting buy is a loaf of bread, mustard, salami and cheeses, bag of fruit and some gorp or nuts, with a flat or big jugs of water. Enough for a few days, none needing cooking. Pack has an emergency stove and solid fuel in it, if needed. On longer trips, I’ll buy some canned goods. I’ve yet to need the stove or small mess kit. (Canned spam and peas with peaches are tasty right from the can. I have made soup in the electric hot pot on all nighters…or used a mini slow cooker in hotels).

    I’ll toss a sleeping bag in the trunk on winter trips, and sometimes a pup tent as it is more comfortable in warm weather than sleeping curled up on the rear seat (that works better in rain and snow…). Oddly, since being prepared oriented, I’ve not been forced to do either…

    I really need to unpack, check, and repack my kits and gear… its been too long…

    FWIW, I spent some time trying to figure the hardest conditions to prep for. Decided it was flood and mud. Tents and such are useless in 2 foot of water over 3 of muck… finally decided the only real solutions were a special purpose vehicle (airboat or very tall truck) or being bugged out early… so now I always bug out to dry destination early. Best expedient I could figure was an inflatable raft with cover.

  65. Larry Ledwick says:

    I agree on the flooding, – mud not much of a problem around here. After Houston Texas, I pondered the same thing and ordered an inflatable snorkelers buoyancy vest to keep in the car. I don’t swim worth a crap and those vests take up very little room when deflated (about the size of a small book). Costs for an inflatable boat put them out of reach, the good well constructed ones are not cheap and the cheap recreational ones are not durable enough for serious emergency use.

    One possibility for a cheap but durable boat/raft is a large truck tire tube. They are tough take up little space in their original packaging and a couple of them could make a pretty decent raft or poor mans rib for about $18-$30 each.
    Obviously not your ideal choice but better than nothing.

    I saw some news coverage of the Houston flooding and noticed quite a few folks evacuating in knee to waist deep water were pushing some flotation device (air mattress cooler etc.) with some extra gear on it. A truck tire tube with some sort of decking or a tarp rigged over the center hole could float a 50-100 pounds or so of gear in such an situation.

    Luckily, where I live, flooding at the house is virtually impossible (flood risk is one of the deal breakers for me on places to live). I live on one the highest points in the Denver Metro area and it has natural drainage to my south so even a stationary rain storm that dropped 20 inches of rain would not be an issue for me since I live on the 3rd floor of my apartment building. The ground floor apartments would have some water issues in that sort of situation but I would be high and dry.

    I have a far greater exposure to lightning, deep snow drifts in the winter, and straight line winds where I live as far as weather related hazards. A slight but real risk of small tornado but they rarely form close to the mountains here but it is not unknown.

    On the food, everyone needs to pick what they like an sits well with their stomach under difficult conditions, my stash does a double duty for when I get stuck at work when a server crashes or they are doing some major code or system change. Then I only have to walk to the car to grab something to eat if it turns into a very long night. That happens with enough frequency that it is handy to have a stash of munchies (I keep some in my desk too).

  66. E.M.Smith says:

    When “on a job”, I typically stock a variety of candy bars, jerky, nuts, dried fruit and my two “go to” items for the hot pot: Canned ravioli and split pea soup. Either one makes a meal in a pinch. More than once in the dead of night I’ve set up the food warmer hot pot, with a can of “stuff” in it, in the break room and had a “Can ‘o Dinner” ;-) With a chips side and candy bar desert…

    Oh, and I usually have a small jar of Instant Coffee when on work sites, just in case their coffee runs out ;-)

    Why? Well, same Prep motivation. One too many “all nighters” in a cold computer room with no vending machines and no restaurant open anywhere near. In one CoLo, we simply could not leave as our passes would not get us back in without verbal confirmation from folks long asleep and the nearest facilities were a 1/2 hour drive away anyway… Losing 2 hours of work time and waking the boss was not going to happen… Had split peas soup, crackers, and canned fruit for dinner, IIRC. In the coffee room with no vending machines… and not much coffee… The site mostly ran without staff in the space other than installs / removals.

    I have a small classy leather bag, about small gym bag sized (about 2 gallons), with my work kitchen kit in it. Nobody thinks it would be that so it usually skips inspection or The Look when going back into a computer room area. Folks just figure it’s some spare clothes or tools or whatever. Really it’s 2 days food and a micro-kitchen kit… including electric food warming. Even a small cutting board for salami & cheese with class ;-) There’s usually a conference room somewhere that will do, even if no break room is available. I can make coffee, warm dinner, and snacks with it. It is distinct from the GoBag emergency pack and the larger hotel travel kitchen box (for weeks to months on the road…)

    But that really is distinct from Emergency Prep. It is more “making work comfortable” prep.

  67. Larry Ledwick says:

    I think of my making work comfortable (and basic personal and car gear) as just the first tier of general preparedness and treat it all as just a continuum of degrees of preparedness. I also believe in redundancy for essential gear so for really important things like ability to make fire, I have multiple means to do that by including at least one in each prep kit.

    I have a ferror-cerrium fire starter on my key chain with striker, but also usually carry a butane lighter. Since on a couple occasions these cheap lighters have had their valve held open by something in my pocket I now fold a small piece of paper over multiple times (about 1/2 inch wide) and then fold that stiff band of paper over the top of the lighter to protect the valve and tape it with a bit of electrical tape. My go bag also has fire starting stuff in it, so no matter the situation I always have access to at least 2 or more methods to make fire. These only way an ounce or two so no reason not to. In my wallet I carry a small 3/4 inch wide diamond stone and two single edge razor blades taped together so they protect the sharp edges so even without my pocket knife I have a cutting tool. Part of this is a legacy of being on a mountain search and rescue team so would not be something most “city folk” would do, but just a habit of many years.

    Now that snow season is about here I will make sure I have one of those small mylar survival blankets in the car too. When it gets really cold in the dead of winter I will carry one in my cargo pocket of my pants.

  68. E.M.Smith says:

    Ah, the details…

    For years I had an Exacto knife point blade in my wallet. It’s about an inch long and 1/3 inch wide? Passed through many an airport screening with it laying in the bypass basket… Took it out about a decade back as they went to tighter screening and x-raying the stuff in the wallet. (Though it passed through at least once without issue…)

    I used to carry Bic Lighters in their plastic shells / paper wrapper as sold on the rack. Figuring the plastic and paper were kindling too. That plastic cover tended to prevent the accidental leak-by-pressure. Then I just moved them to a pocket in the work-lunch-bag that has a stiff enough leather so as to not press the buttons. I too usually am equipped with both lighters and matches and some kind of striker stone. Lunch kit has matches and Bic Lighters. Go Bag has striker stone and matches and sometimes a Bic or a BBQ Lighter. Road Kitchen as another 2 or three but usually matches and a BBQ Lighter. Oh, and then there’s the odd bits: I bought a “Survival Kit Knife” mostly to assess it. I treat it as “just a knife” in the Go Bag, but it has fire starter in the handle (and fish kit and…) so some “accidental redundancy”.

    And everything has a Mylar Survival Blanket in it. Larger thicker one in the bigger kits (the semi-woven one).

    I have to admit to becoming more lazy about my fire makers. After reading the book on Outdoor Survival Skills by Larry Dean Olsen (hope I’m remembering that right) where he lays out the idea of just leveling to the point of history where your material goods match, I realized it was more about what I knew than what I had. Since what I know is always with me, what I have doesn’t matter so much… So at or near home I’m up to my eyeballs in fire starters. On the road, what gas station / truck stop is not overflowing with them? Only when going to the wilds does that become an issue, really. Even then, if at all near the car, I’ve got a working cigarette lighter in the car and can make a glowing coal trivially, then from that blowing up a flame. Bit of gas on a dip stick and some sparks from the battery work too. Since I travel with one of those jumper packs, I can just use the jumper cables on it instead of the car. Or I could always drop back to a field expedient bow and fire stick.

    Only when hiking away from the car do I really make sure I’ve got the convenience of a lighter / matches via a wilderness survival pack. That can be just picking up the Red Go Bag from the car trunk, or even as small as a 1 quart sized ‘fanny pack’ pull out with just the minimum in it. Lighter, matches, tiny folding stove with solid fuel, mylar emergency blanket, blade, etc….

    Then again, since I rarely need to drive for hours to get somewhere with hypothermia as a real risk most of the year, my needs for “expedient fire and heat” are far far less. I’m more likely to use the mylar blanket as sun screening expedient tent than as emergency warmth ;-)

    It really was an epiphany moment for me to read Olsen’s book. He taught a class in survival at BYU IIRC. Final exam was students were dropped in the desert without shoes and had to make it back… To save the cactus, they had folks watching and when a student identified a cactus water source, they were handed the equivalent water content so as not to wear out their ‘course’. BUT they did have to weave sandals from yucca leaves and make their own sun hats and walk through the desert showing what was edible and water source and make fire from nothing and… Once you realize all the World is a resource, and all you need are stone age tech know-how to “survive”, it changes you. Drop me middle of nowhere, I’m going to be making shoes, hat, shirt, lean-to, fire, whatever as needed from whatever is laying around.
    “Have tree? Will travel!”

    All the preparedness “stuff” is just to make it more convenient and less work…

  69. Larry Ledwick says:

    I had a similar experience. In the 1970’s I took a winter survival course at the junior college, a few weeks of class room lectures and the final was a night out in the woods with only what you had in your pockets, and a small day pack / fanny pack.

    A few years ago, I approached the problem from the cave man perspective. What were the 3 first tools man developed?
    #1 was the club / throwing stick
    #2 was a cutting tool
    #3 was a primitive saw (jaw bone of an African antelope)
    #3.5 using expedient throwing weapons (ie beaning rabbits and birds with rocks)

    With these first 3 you can make all the rest
    Plus some essential skills (making cordage, weaving reeds, basket making, piercing awl and sewing etc.) Which led to nets snares and fishing gear.

    #4 (a few hundred thousand years later crude ax), and walking / digging sticks morphed into spears
    #5 fire
    #6 true projectile weapons (sling, bolo, throwing spears, atlatl and bow and arrow.)

    On that basis the most important tool to carry is a good cutting tool, as it facilitates all other technologies. The development of club and progression into the hand ax was a major new technology which reinforces Bradford Angiers comment in his book.”How to stay alive in the woods” where he says if he could only have one tool with him it would be a 3/4 ax. His book draws heavily from the experiences of trappers of the East Inda Trading Company and such in Canada where shelter and fire are critical to survival. Focuses on late 1700’s 1800’s early 1900’s technology so no magic stainless or titanium gear needed.

  70. Larry Ledwick says:

    Reference your comments above, I have also recently began to appreciate the importance of foot wear to successfully getting out of a survival situation a good pair of sandals or boots (climate and local conditions appropriate) are also something to consider when tossing some basic gear in the trunk. Getting your shoes sucked off by deep mud or having to ditch them while swimming across a stream creates a whole new survival challenge that very few are prepared to deal with. On major trips in my clothing bag I have a good pair of strap on sandals as back up shoes similar to these.

    They take up a lot less space and weight than a full set of boots. Even a pair of cheap flip flops would be better than barefoot for walking out of a bad situation.

    If you ever watched any of the Naked and Afraid series, foot protection was very high on everyone’s priority list. Unlike folks in primitive societies who have been barefoot most of their lives and appropriately calloused feet soft industrialized world westerners are especially at risk for foot injuries in a survival situation.

  71. E.M.Smith says:


    I once went an entire year barefoot. (Why is an interesting question, but not for here. I was in college so it was possible and I grew up often barefoot so was “into it” the rest is a mix but including lots of shoes hurt…)

    That year it decided to snow in the Central Valley, but I was about 9 months into it by then… so rode my steel pedal bike in the snow barefoot…

    After a long summer (prior) I’d gotten about a 1/4 inch callus over all my foot soles. At one point, in a Safeway IIRC, I stepped on a thumb tack. I noticed a bit of discomfort so looked at my foot. Saw it, and pulled it out. No blood. No real pain. No consequences.

    BUT, it takes about a month+ to build up that callus… Right now I’m about 1/2 ‘tenderfoot’ as I wear rubber slip on sandals outside most of the time.

    So unless you are dedicated to making callus where you need it, a good set of work gloves and shoes is essential (or else you will be dealing with blisters, punctures, infections and more…)

    Per a blade. I subscribe to Gibb’s Rule #9 (IIRC) “Always carry a knife”. Size, shape, and proximity vary, but there’s always one “near”. Mostly a one hand lock open on my person. Sometimes a machete in the car (my “Alligator Persuader” aka ‘throat straightener’ or ‘nose shortener’ also known as my “Florida Pocket Knife”… ;-) and often just the knife block in the house or the “Chef’s Knife” in the travel kitchen… The Travel Kitchen also does double duty as “cover” for some fire and edge things ;-)

    Having a hatchet in a Motel 6 is ‘questionable behaviour’ while a “kitchen knife, cutting board, slow cooker and chicken” is just just being a cheap SOB like all their customers ;-)

    It and a bic lighter take about 100,000 years off your “level” ;-0

  72. E.M.Smith says:

    Per “newsy” (a Roku internet TV news channel) Puerto Rico is “100% without power”…

    Also on one of the news aggregators was the report that some rivers were 50 feet above “record flood stage”. That happens when 2 or 3 FEET of rain fall on mountains in a bowl with only one river exit down slope …

    Puerto Rico is going to be a horrible mess. Hopefully the ‘restart and rebuild’ can bootstrap effectively.

    In related news, Mexico City is a mess as they try to recover from a Great Quake.

    So, basically, most everything Caribbean, Florida, South Texas, and Mexico is in a giant mess and looking at how to do a restart.

    I’m feeling very guilty that I’m just sitting here having Scotch Rocks and watching TV. This is the stuff I live (and prepare) for. Yet there’s not much I can do. Water and borders between me and them; and age & credentials between my skills and their needs.

    If anyone in Puerto Rico needs an I.T. Geek / P.M. I’m available. For you, transportation, room & board is sufficient…

  73. E.M.Smith says:

    NBC News / Today (via an aggregator) had a guy reporting from San Juan Puerto Rico saying some parts were expected to “be without power for 4 to 6 months”.

    Not that surprising, really, given they are bankrupt so can’t pay for anything, and that the power company was “dodgy” when things were at their best.

    IMHO, an example of how Central Authority ossifies and becomes ever more unreliable.

    Were I in Puerto Rico I’d be looking to be self reliant for electricity. (Oh, Wait! I’m in California and I already am self reliant as needed, only expecting Grid Power to be available as a convenience, not a necessity….)

    But 4 to 6 months, and without much money inflow for things like Diesel or gasoline? Man, that’s gonna be tough… Welcome to the slide back into the 1800s… Wonder how well eCars will sell there ;-)

  74. Larry Ledwick says:

    Will definitely be a challenge. The US Navy can help with some of that. Navy ships have been used in the past to provide disaster power to shore. The sub tender I was on in Guam provided about 1/3 of the power on the island of Guam in the 1970’s and they also had a power barge that provided about another 1/3 to augment the Cabras Power plant in Piti.

    They could take one of the ships in the reserve fleet if any of them are in condition to be rapidly activated to provide a “boot strap” island of power to help bring up the rest of the island.

    The military also has portable gen sets which could be moved there temporarily. It would be a good training exercise for the Sea Bees

    If Hollywood celebrities had a clue they could raise the money to buy several gen sets and deliver them to the island out of what for them is pocket change.

  75. E.M.Smith says:


    As I sit here on a rainy day, I’m reviewing my electrical power availability. Just something I always do “first rain”. This habit started as a “emergency lighting review” back when I was about 6 years old. Then, it was relatively common for My Home Town of a few thousand people to be plunged into darkness whenever a big storm came through.

    There was NO power generating station inside 30 miles that I know of. ( I drove pretty much all of it and nothing is there but farm land and towns dinkier than mine, then a couple of 15k people towns). So pretty much any tree falling on the lines, a major lightning strike, or somebody skidding off the wrong road “knocked out power”. Usual outages were a few hours. Once or twice; days. So we had a candles and flashlights drill pretty much every winter, often several times.

    In later years it got better (stronger poles and away from trees I think… that, and electricity from Oroville Dam was only 12 miles away so much more stable supply lines. But by then I was into my teenage years and habits were set. Rain falls, check expedient lighting supplies.

    As that habit has helped me greatly over the decades, I still do it.

    So I do wonder about folks who live in places like Hurricane Alley and don’t have a triple redundant alternative / expedient power plan. I’d expect companies and small communities to have things like here:
    and individuals to have things like my minimal emergency power supply (link up thread). Heck, it’s about the same cost as a six pack of good beer to have a 100 W to 200 W power supply that plugs into the car. I recently bought one at a truck stop for something like $20 (over priced) just because I’d forgotten to pack my usual one. With one of those inverters, every car is a power station and you can run lights for a few rooms and cell phone / laptop charging easily.

    Sure, you will not be running your All Electric Kitchen nor charging your Tesla, and you may need the $35 300 W one to run your entertainment center, but really, it just is trivial to never ever have zero electric power. With either one of my cars at home, and with the usual 1/2 tank of gas, I’ve got emergency lighting and communications for weeks.

    So were I trying to help Puerto Rico, I’d have a few pallets of 200 W plug into the car inverters, and a couple of containers of kW Honda Generators (along with 10 gallons of fuel each) showing up each day until nobody wanted to see any more.

    But that’s just me, I guess.

    Well, it rained today. So, in arms reach I have a flashlight, about a dozen candles, a matchbook, and a Zippo lighter with 8 oz of Ronsonol fuel (sadly, the lighter is junk. Fill it and it dries out in a day. The wick is ineffective at getting fuel from the stuffing. Not like the old Zippos. But dribble some fuel on the wick and it’s an instant fire starter… and fuel keeps in the bottle nicely.) I did nothing out of the ordinary to have this stuff this near. It lives here.

    IF I stand up and take a step. I’ve got a couple of more fire starters and a flat of Sterno Fuel, a Sterno Stove, a gallon of kerosene, a kerosene lantern, several kerosene lamps, and a flashlight or two. Then if I walk out to the Kitchen or Living room … ;-)

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