The view from my perch on the mountain

Archive for August, 2011

Irene Approaches

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I spoke with my brother again this morning and he says they have Mom’s house buttoned down to ride out Hurricane Irene.

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There is one positive aspect of this storm.The torrential rains will aid firefighters who have been battling the Great Dismal Swamp wildfire which was started by a lighting strike two weeks ago. So far it has burned over 5,500 acres. Smoke from the fire has triggered air quality alerts 200 miles away!

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Hurricane Warning
Flood Watch
Hazardous Weather Outlook

This Afternoon: Scattered showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 86. East wind around 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.
Tonight: Tropical storm conditions expected, with hurricane conditions possible. Scattered rain and thunderstorms, then rain likely and possibly a thunderstorm after midnight. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. Cloudy, with a low around 76. East wind 11 to 16 mph increasing to between 29 and 39 mph. Winds could gust as high as 46 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts between three quarters and one inch possible.
Saturday: Tropical storm conditions expected, with hurricane conditions possible. Rain and possibly a thunderstorm. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. High near 80. East wind 45 to 55 mph, with gusts as high as 65 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts in excess of 4 inches possible.
Saturday Night: Hurricane conditions expected. Rain and possibly a thunderstorm. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. Low around 73. North wind 60 to 80 mph decreasing to between 45 and 55 mph. Winds could gust as high as 95 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts in excess of 4 inches possible.
Sunday: Isolated showers before noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 87. Windy, with a west wind between 24 and 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.


The latest updates have Irene moving across the Hampton Roads (Tidewater to locals), Virginia area tomorrow afternoon as either a weak category 2 or strong category 1 hurricane.

Saffir/Simpson Hurricane Scale


Winds & Effects



74-95 mph 
(64-82 kt)

4-5 ft.


No real damage to building structures. Damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery, and trees. Also, some coastal flooding and minor pier damage.



96-110 mph
(83-95 kt)

6-8 ft.


Some roofing material, door, and window damage. Considerable damage to vegetation, mobile homes, etc. Flooding damages piers and small craft in unprotected moorings may break their moorings.



111-130 mph
(96-113 kt)

9-12 ft.


Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings, with a minor amount of curtain wall failures. Mobile homes are destroyed. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by floating debris. Terrain may be flooded well inland.



131-155 mph
(114-135 kt)

13-18 ft.


More extensive curtain wall failures with some complete roof structure failure on small residences. Major erosion of beach areas. Terrain may be flooded well inland.



155 mph+
(135+ kt)

18 ft. +


Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. Flooding causes major damage to lower floors of all structures near the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas may be required.



Mom lives just east of Norfolk, in the extreme threat area on the map above.

Storm Surge Map

In addition to sustained hurricane force winds the area is predicted to get 8+ inches of rain with a 4 to 8 foot storm and unusually high lunar tides. I may need to borrow Fish Hook’s boat as well as his utility trailer if I get a call to bring in supplies to repair storm damage.

Now all we can do is wait and pray.


We interrupt this program……

…..for a few words from Mother Nature.

I have more photos to post from the Civil War re-enactment in Saltville this past weekend but they’ll have to go on the back burner for a short while. Mother Nature has decided to remind us that she’s in charge and I have some preparations to make.


First my youngest brother called Tuesday afternoon worried that Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story was under attack because he heard 4 loud booms which shook the house, rattled dishes in the cabinets and set all of the interior doors swinging back and forth. While we didn’t get so much as a jiggle up here in the Blue Ridge Mountains I was online when he called and, just as he was describing what had happened, a news alert about the East Coast earthquake popped up in my inbox. The epicenter was about 150 miles northwest of where he lives and, while they received no damage, it did give folks in that area a scare.


Now I’m following the weather updates as Hurricane Irene bears down on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Mom lives in Virginia Beach, about 100 miles due north of the Outer Banks (just east of Norfolk on the map below) and tropical storm warnings for her area are already up. The weather guessers are currently forecasting that the storm will strike the Outer Banks as a category 3 storm, track north across Currituck Sound and head back out into the Atlantic Ocean after crossing Virginia Beach as a category 2 hurricane late Saturday.


The governors of Virginia and North Carolina have already declared states of emergency and mandatory evacuation of the Outer Banks were have been ordered. The US Navy and Air Force are taking this storm seriously enough that all ships in Norfolk have been ordered out to sea and aircraft from Joint Base Langley-Eustis and Naval Station Norfolk and Naval Air Station Oceana are being dispersed to air bases inland.


Mom has lived in her Virginia Beach home for 50 years and has ridden out many a tropical storm, hurricane and winter nor’easter there. As a result she refuses to leave no matter what emergency officials advise and I’m sure she’ll do the same this time.


There is an upside to the hurricane bearing down on the East Coast. The heavy rainfall it brings with it will be a huge help in getting the wildfire that has been burning in the Great Dismal Swamp for the past couple of weeks under control. Mom’s area has been under code orange, red and purple air quality alerts recently because of heavy smoke from the estimated 5,500 acres of peat bog which is smoldering on the Virginia/ North Carolina border.


My younger brothers and a sister still live in Virginia Beach but about the only thing I can count on from them is a call for help once the storm hits……if the land lines or cell towers are still in place. That sounds harsh, I know, but the three of them together have all the common sense God gave a rock and that’s being extremely generous.

This scenario puts me in an odd position. After living in Virginia Beach most of my life I became accustomed to keeping emergency gear ready to load in the car in case we had to evacuate ahead of a hurricane. While Mom was always ready to ride one out Frankie, Laura and I were always ready to “git while the gittin; was good”. Now, living 325 miles west of Virginia Beach and safe from the storm, I’m preparing to do the opposite; load the emergency gear into the truck and head for Virginia Beach once the storm passes! This is where owning a 3.5 ton, 4 wheel drive, gas guzzling monster SUV becomes a blessing.

Now to remove the winter gear from the two 32 gallon totes in the shed and replace it with items more suitable for warm weather, especially extra tarps in case Mom has any roof damage. When Frankie gets home from work I’ll get the young man next door to help load the totes into the truck and then it’s just a matter of waiting for the storm to hit.

Actually, this arrangement may work to our advantage. In the aftermath of a major storm supplies, especially building materials and emergency generators, are hard to come by because home improvement and building supply stores are quickly stripped bare as hundreds of thousands of people try to repair storm damage. There is a Lowe’s Home Improvement store 2 miles from our house and I have to drive right past it to reach the on ramp for Interstate 81. My brother in law lives just down the street from us and I’m sure he’d lend me his utility trailer. Between the trailer and the luggage rack on the roof of the truck I can probably haul enough building materials to repair any damage Mom might sustain.

In case you’re wondering, if I have to head east with a load of gear I have no intention of loading or unloading anything heavy. The last thing I need to do is aggravate my already wrecked back and legs and become another person needing medical attention in a disaster zone. Lowe’s has a crew of men available to load purchases free of charge. Frankie and I have used these guys several times over the years. Once I get to Mom’s my brothers, while not over burdened with common sense, are both large and healthy. Then there are Mom’s neighbors, 2 or whom are Navy SEALs and the man right next door is a building contractor. I think we’ll have the heavy lifting covered.

Well, this isn’t getting the totes packed so I guess I had better get to it. I’ll keep y’all posted and if I do have to go you know I’ll have pictures to post when I get back. I take my cameras everywhere!