Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Hurricane Gustav LiveBlog, Part 2

Yeah, it seems odd to post a LiveBlog nearly a week after the event happened, but that's what happens when you're blogging on a six-column columnar pad instead of a computer. So with that said, here's Part 2 of my Hurricane Gustav LiveBlog.

Part 2: 01 September 2008, 1200-1549 CDT

1200: Wind gusts up to 45 mph just a couple of minutes ago with a nasty squall. I’m sucking bandwidth through a straw looking up the soccer news from Europe and here. Arsenal won impressively, Arminia Bielefeld coughed up a two-goal lead to Hamburg SV, and Houston won impressively. My fantasy soccer team probably lost their two matches this weekend thanks to me keeping a guy on the bench that scored two goals. <_<> 1235: Bad rain/wind gusts as I write this. Surfing the Internet looking for the weather reports from the National Weather Service, but struggling because of little bandwidth. I did manage to get a wonderful screenshot of the watches/warnings out currently in the NWS Lake Charles region.

I’m currently getting much enjoyment out of listening to my radio scanner. Law Enforcement folks are hard to find, but the SLEMCO (the local electrical utilities provider) folks are quite chatty. Apparently, they’re still on the road in the storm, as two guys were talking about seeing kids in Kaplan making donuts in the local Piggly Wiggly parking lot. Classy.

1300: Rain/Wind steadily getting worse, with winds sustained at over 40 mph now from west- northwest with steady rain that’s becoming heavy at times. My parents’ dogs are out on the front porch out of the wind sleeping quietly, unlike my dad and Eric, who are performing the Chainsaw Duet March in the two recliners in the living room, oblivious to yet another poor pulp western on TV.

1307: Ministry of Unintentional British Humour sighting: On KATC’s website, the summary for today’s forecast? Windy.

1330: KATC radar shows Franklin catching the western edge of the eye wall with wind gusts estimated up to 90 mph. The Weather Channel’s crawl says the winds in Gueydan are from the North at 30 mph. Huh?

1343: The Weather Channel announces proudly, “Many folks evacuated from Louisiana to the Northeast, and these folks are enjoying the fantastic weather!” Rub it in why don’t you? In radio scanner news, I found someone talking on one of the local law enforcement frequencies, 852.512 MHz, but the chatter was decidedly amateurish, as one person was claiming to be talking from their front porch. Regardless, they confirmed KATC and The Weather Channel’s announcements that the eye was passing in the vicinity of Jeanerette.

1400: I’m still online reading the Guardian’s Transfer Deadline Ticker. What a day for Manchester City. Embattled former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra sells the club to Abu Dhabi's governmental front company headed by billionaire
Sulaiman Al-Fahim for $400 million this morning and immediately upon taking over the fellow cracks open his wallet and launches simultaneous bids of over $65 million each for Real Madrid’s Robinho, Valencia’s David Villa, and Tottenham Hotspur’s Dimitar Berbatov? Man, that makes Roman Abramovich’s $300 million spending spree in the summer of 2003 seem almost frugal.

In other news, my parents and Carla and Eric are discussing the qualities of eating parts of cattle that frankly should never be eaten. Online streaming is impossible with this connection and my portable Sirius satellite radio doesn’t work without an antenna with an open view of the northern sky, so I’ve got my radio scanner locked onto the Louisiana State Police’s main radio frequency (853.587 MHz), which in times of emergency is shared with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD). Hilarity ensues as a DOTD supervisor tries to initiate an hourly radio check with drawbridge operators hunkered down in their control houses, only to be cut off by a State Trooper trying to keep the channel open for emergency communications only. His point is proven when a State Trooper calls in with a car pulled over north of Lafayette containing a sightseer wanting a peek at the conditions. Winds now almost due west (270°) at over 40 mph with rainsqualls coming through more frequently.

1430: A little bit of web searching brings up a couple of new frequencies, but they are all empty at the moment. Lights have dimmed a couple of times but our electricity remains nonetheless. Fun continues on the PC as my continued search for weather information lets me know that this computer has no Java, Flash, or Shockwave applets. Sweet! I’m Internet-ing like it’s 1995! This means NOAA’s looping of the local radar in Lake Charles is out of the question, so I’m forced to download the several-hundred Kb animated .gif of the radar loop of the Southern Mississippi Valley. Let’s see how long this will take to get.

1436: Success! The .gif of the radar loop is downloading, and from a distance, the centre of Gustav seems to be just north of New Iberia/Loreauville. What’s also interesting is that the eye seems to be beginning a turn to the north-northwest. Perhaps a near miss for Lafayette? Wir werden sehen as my grandfather would say. I forgot how bad dial-up was for general web surfing, so out of a state of boredom I logged off the connection and shut the computer down. Winds are above 45 mph and remain almost due west (270°) and rain continues to fall.

1501: Nastiest squall yet rolls through with sustained winds suddenly jumping up to 55 mph in a short span of time with continued driving rain. Lights continue to flicker and dim intermittently but surprisingly we still have electricity. News, radio, and radio scanner report widespread trees down across the Acadiana area, and even more so in the Baton Rouge area, where Rob Perillo reports a wind gust at 91 mph at Baton Rouge International Airport. Winds are definitely due west now (270°), which makes me believe we are about as close as we’re going to get to the eye of Gustav. Radar reports from KATC put the centre of Gustav between Broussard and St. Martinville. In addition, preliminary rainfall estimates from the radar put the most rainfall in the area over the Atchafalaya Basin and in the Henderson Lake area in particular with over 12 inches of rain.

1515: Ace & Buddy (My parents’ dogs) look like brave soldiers sitting on the west side of the house on the leeward side of the storm. In completely unrelated news, KATC must really owe the local law offices some airtime. There’s so many commercials for them that the next time I’m in a fender-bender, I won’t know which shyster to call first!

1549: Another nasty squall rolls through and the winds are now about as fast as we’re probably going to get. Winds are currently sustained at 60ish mph from due west (270°). Rob Perillo breaks out the 1600 advisory and puts the centre of Gustav at 30.4° North (30° 24’ 00” for those of us who prefer the degrees-minutes-seconds convention) and 92.0° West (92° 0’ 0”), which offhand sounds like north of Carencro. KATC just went off the air as I was writing this, which forced us to put the TV back on the Weather Channel (Watch KLFY you say? I’d be better off asking the columnar pad I’m writing this blog on for weather information). At least they’re good for a laugh, as they’re still talking about 15 ft storm surges in Vermilion Bay and the announcer suddenly sounded like she was bobbing for apples as she was telling us how important it was to keep our TVs tuned to them. If you say so.

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