<![CDATA[The net is a great source of information in storms like this. In fact, sometimes you get too much data, but you can eventually sort through it to come up with a pretty good picture of the current situation.
This weather map from WeatherUnderground shows the potential wind speeds from Hurricane Irene.
Starting from the hurricane icon off the coast of Ocean City, those in the closest rings will have hurricane force winds. As you’ll note they are stronger on the right side than they are on the left. What I’m talking about below is for the circle WHEN the hurricane is in the position in Ocean City area, not when it is moving up to that area.
The next ring is tropical storm winds > 50 knots per hour but less than 73 knots. This includes parts of the Eastern shore just about to Cambridge.
The next ring, the largest ring, is tropical storm winds > 34 knots and < 50 knots. This includes basically everyone East of Bethesda, East of Woodbridge, East of the Mixing Bowl.
Please note the storm will be moving, which is why toward the bottom you see the remnants of other circles drawn. There you will see a large swath of hurricane strength wind to the right of the storm when it the hurricane icon (not seen) is south of Newport News. In this ‘circle’ you’ll see hurricane strength winds extending over nearly the ENTIRE Eastern Shore.
What does this mean in English? Check out the Washington Post’s story on Wind Speed and what it means for your home and trees.
Direct link to map:
<![CDATA[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.
The posts are normally 6 feet above sea level
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.
<![CDATA[Some interesting videos have come out in the last month or so now that the hype and Tweeting about 'watch this video' has subsided.
First up is the 'in car' camera version of what it was like to be in one of those thousands of cars floating around in the water. A driver had an HD camera attached to his dash as he floated around (note the wipers were on despite his floating).
The second video is more of a good news story. One town had tsunami barriers 15 feet higher than most due to the insistence of a former mayor. It worked, and only 1 person in the town died and the entire village is still intact.
This one is a bit hard to watch as you see and hear the panic of people running. The camera turned away as the waves approached one old man. One can only hope he was not taken in the waves.
<![CDATA[This video explains better than any class lecture how soil and sand can turn to mush during an earthquake. Filmed in New Zealand but applies to many places that are built on silt (i.e San Francisco and Oakland). Great map here of the liquefaction risk in that area.
<![CDATA[UPDATE: Wed. March 23. 8:00 PM. We’ll be meeting to put together the remaining kits at Boot.hk offices.
Last night members of the Hong Kong Hackerspace, aka Hong Kong Hackjam, got together at the Boot.HK offices to undertake a quick project to help victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. With electricity out in many parts of Japan, the call went out from the Tokyo Hackerspace community asking for help in providing lighting, networking and other electronic supplies for victims of the disaster.
Here in Hong Kong we settled on the quick and easy (somewhat) task of building “Minty Boosts“. These are battery powered USB chargers that can be used with any AA battery to charge a mobile phone or other electronic device. The entire hardware is soldered together and throw into a candy or mint box, thus the name “Minty Boost”.
Over a dozen hackers and technology enthusiasts gathered last night to throw together some relief supplies that will be sent to Tokyo in the next day or two. Only a couple of the devices (mine included) ended up FUBAR, as is to be expected as some of us were not that experienced with a soldering iron. But many others were thrown together by are more hack-savvy members and were charging phones by the end of the night with great success.
Here are some pics of the effort. If you want to donate other supplies or time, check out the requests from the Tokyo Hackerspace.
<![CDATA[A massive 6.3 earthquake hit Christchurch New Zealand today, with some pretty heavy destruction. This was followed by a pair of 5.5 aftershocks. Thanks to the power of the Internet you can now “watch” the television coverage from New Zealand basically as it happens.
This second video is raw footage. At minutes 2:53 and 5:42 you’ll see what happens when an aftershock rumbles the rubble. Pretty scary.