I’ve been quite busy over the last 24 hours tracking Irene. Well that’s not entirely accurate–I’ve been tracking Irene for days, but I’ve gotten quite worried about Irene in the last 24 hours.
The “Oh Crap” moment came yesterday when I took a look at the computer models that showed a distinct Western track of the storm, taking it not up the outer islands of the East Coast of the USA but rather straight up the Chesapeake Bay’s Western Shore, which is where I have my house.
The computer models that were put out by the European meteorological agencies showed a storm track through Southern Maryland’s St. Marys, Calvert and Anne Arundel County. This would have had the eye of the hurricane going over my house, which, while a pretty cool thing to see and witness, would have also brought with it some massive destruction. Trees would be falling like toothpicks and storm surge flooding would wallop low lying areas of Annapolis and Baltimore, much like we saw with Isabel in 2003 (but probably not as bad).
But the GFS computer model, which mirrors much of the NOAA National Hurricane Center’s forecast is now showing a definite Eastern approach of Irene. The storm will actually stay out to sea and not pass directly over the barrier islands with Ocean City, Rehobeth and some of the Jersey Shore. If this comes to pass then that would be good news for the Chesapeake Bay area. Fingers crossed that the track starts to mirror this model.
During Isabel, we lost a few dozen roofing shingles along with having quite a bit of water flood into our house through the ceilings. All told I think it was about $10,000 in damage after FEMA and the insurance companies finished arguing. I also lost quite a bit of soil on my seawall, which spent hours underwater. The nearby towns of Chesapeake Beach and North Beach were heavily flooded, with 4 feet of water heading inland a few hundred yards and National Guard troops called out to control security. We were also without power for 7 days.
So how will Irene stack up to this storm? It’s slower moving, stronger, but also further away than Isabel. The most similar track was that of Hurricane Floyd in 1999, which caused considerable rain and flooding along with some tropical storm level winds.
As you can see from the pictures, I’m not really worried about a storm surge taking my house. That would be basically a biblical level Tsunami to get up the 40 odd foot cliff to my actual house. I do anticipate my seawall getting another battering from this storm, which means I might need to rearrange the rocks (again) before the coming winter squalls.
The rain is going to be a big pain in that the soil is already pretty wet in the area. The super saturation along with the winds will likely result in a number of trees falling over in the forests just North of my property. I just have to hope they don’t come to rest on my roof. They are a shallow root trees and even a good thunderstorm takes out more than a few, dropping power lines in the process.
For much of the other areas around me, I anticipate some pretty heavy flooding in Southern Maryland mixed with near hurricane force winds. Tropical Storm winds that will hit the middle Bay will be annoying but many homes there are built with hurricanes in mind (we have hurricane struts in our roofing).
Still, I’m plenty nervous. This will be a very long weekend staring at computer screens and the weather.