10:01am – Good morning, I survived the storm. I woke up several times last night due to loud gusty winds and heavy rain, but my condo doesn’t appear to have taken any damage. It’s sunny but with persistent gusty winds.
10:36am – Orange and Seminole Counties are still under curfew through tonight, but will reassess their decision around noon.
11:00am – NWS has downgraded the storm to a Cat 3, but it is still causing immense damage in coastal cities.
11:17am – Orlando Sentinel is reporting at least one death in Central Florida attributable to Matthew.
11:41am – Meanwhile, Matt Drudge has theorized that Hurricane Matthew is a government conspiracy to “make a point about climate change,” a sentiment echoed by fellow radio host Rush Limbaugh (who walked his statement back)
12:01pm -Chip and Company is reporting that all 4 Disney parks remain closed and will reopen tomorrow pending damage assessment. All resorts and their restaurants remain open.
12:30pm – Gov. Scott says “worst of Matthew is yet to come”
12:47pm – Damage assessments of Gables, Rosenthal and Medical campuses have been completed. So-called “Cardboard U” is open for business tomorrow. Game on.
Hopefully, this is my last post on the matter.
5:04pm – It’s been pouring rain on and off all afternoon here in Orlando with each band getting progressively stronger. THIS current one is the real deal.
5:16pm – Believe it or not, there are still people on the roads.
5:24pm – Various computer models still show it coming over parts of Florida, but the actual forecast hasn’t changed much 5-8” of rain with winds about 20-40 miles per hour gusts of 65mph (TWC is calling for 5-7” but with winds gusting to 70-80mph)
6:05pm – TWC has downgraded their forecast to 3-5” with winds in the 20-40mph bracket (with gusts of 65mph). Rain has stopped for the moment.
6:35pm – Making leftover chicken tenders and fries for dinner. I forgot to buy groceries while I was out earlier today. Yes, I know that was STUPID. Oh and the rain is back.
6:55pm – My FB feed is pretty much dead, sorry. I’m going to go play video games while I still have power, and hope something fun gets posted by the time I get back.
7:45pm – TWC is reporting 20 thousand people are apparently without power near West Palm Beach. I still have power… for the moment.
8:03pm – NWS shows Matthew not making a direct hit on Orlando, but still shows it looping around to effect Central Florida early next week. Great.
8:17pm – Reuters is reporting 180 people dead on the island nation of Haiti. Over a dozen in the same village.
8:32pm – Orlando Sentinel has a round-up of various county by county forecasts for the storm
9:06pm – NWS office in Melbourne is still showing Orange County under a Hurricane Warning through tonight.
9:21pm – Whatever undiagnosed stomach ailment I have has been bothering me all evening. I think it’s psychosomatic from the stress of the storm.
10:01am – Orlando Weekly is reporting that all state offices are closed, all tolls are lifted and that some hospitals in coastal areas were evacuated.
10:03am – The University of Miami is officially on “emergency lock down” – all classes are cancelled, and all retail and offices are closed for the day. Limited dining service is available in the two campus dining halls as long as weather permits, MREs will be available in the Residential Hall lobbies for times when the cafeterias close.
10:20am – Orlando International Airport announced it will be suspending all flights in\out of their airports at 8pm.
11:15am – Sunrail suspends all service through Monday (they don’t offer weekend service)
11:20am – Universal announces it is closing all parks including Wet N’ Wild and CityWalk at 3pm. Disney parks are apparently still open as well with guests going about enjoying their day despite the weather (at the moment is light rain with relatively calm winds).
11:30am – Theme Park Tourist posted that all Disney Parks will close at 5pm, Legoland Florida will close at 5pm as scheduled and SeaWorld will close at 2pm.
12:14pm – TWC is predicting 5-7” of rain through Friday night with wind of 40-50mph with gusts of about 60-65mph. It is not expected to make landfall over Orlando, but we are still under a “Hurricane Warning.”
12:43pm – Not currently raining out, but the winds are strong. The proverbial calm before the storm.
7:34pm – I was going to pack my bags around 2 o’clock this moring and take the first plane to…I had no idea. That’s why I’m still here. I may regret this decision later this week.
8:31pm – My alma mata, the University of Miami, has announced that all classes at Coral Gables\Rosenthal campuses will be cancelled on Thursday and Friday. The medical campus will remain open. The UM-FSU game slated for Saturday will go on as planned because – duh – priorities.
9:15pm – It’s been raining (much of it heavy) off and on for most of the evening with gusty winds and occasional flashes of lightning. These are just the periphery storms – the main action doesn’t start until tomorrow.
10:50pm – Watching the “Live Feed” of FOX 13’s “county by county” forecast for Florida. Orlando will either get nothing…or take a direct hit. How comforting.
11:17pm – Latest NWS forecast models now show a direct hit over Orlando. Other guides have it staying off shore. TWC is calling for heavy rain\thunder to begin around 3am so I better get to bed.
1:45am – Okay, so I was wrong, there’s been a HEAVY downpour for past half hour.
2:05am – Rain has stopped, but the whole condo is lit up by intermittent flashes of light which are getting brighter and closer together. I think another round of rain is coming.
2:17am– Called it! Heavy rain, deafening thunder and extremely bright flashes of lightening. This goes on for a while, but I fell asleep as soon as it stopped so that’s good.
4:30am– That was a quick nap. More rain, but no lightshow this time.
5:19am– All watches and warning for Central Florida have been cancelled. The storm is now passing over Savannah, Georgia… but Orlando is expected to get another 1-2” of rain this afternoon from an unrelated system.
6:27am – Sunrise, Orlando was lucky – EXTREMELY lucky.
10:35am – waiting for the weather to get here. I can’t really go anywhere today so I’m staying inside to do laundry (I didn’t plan it that way, honest).
11:55am – Gov. Rick Scott (R) declares a pre-emptive “State of Emergency” for 34 of 67 counties (including Orange).
12:35pm – Finish lunch, nothing is happening outside yet so I take second load out of dryer, strip sheets off bed and throw them into the washer. Not exciting, but I can’t have a 5-hour gap in this post.
-2:15pm – Tropical Storm Warning issued for Charleston, SC, as outer bands arrive in Southwestern\Central Florida flooding reported along Tampa Bay beaches, and I’m… playing some mindless cow clicker on FB.
-4:57pm – It has started. #TropicalStormColin Pouring rain for nearly an hour straight now. I’m not worried, I’m sure at least a few of my friends are pulling for me…right?
-5:33pm – Receive an e-mail from apartment management saying to stock batteries\non-perishable food and stay tuned to local TV\radio for news. Also take furniture off patios\balconies which I immediately did (they were wet, but otherwise undamaged).
-6:55pm – Scott reissues “State of Emergency,” mobilizes Florida National Guard. Also, my FB post from 2hrs ago only has 2 “likes.”
-8:16pm– Weather Channel is predicting 3-5 inches of rain for most of Florida. Storm is expected to make landfall near Tallahassee and make its way to Charleston and Cape Hatteras by Tuesday afternoon before heading back to sea.
-9:29pm – Rain seems to have stopped for the moment, but Reuters news service is reporting the Tampa Bay area is reporting widespread power outages, major street flooding and a lot of people dismissing this as “just” a tropical storm.
10:07pm – The rain is back, winds continue as they were. FB post is up to 5 “likes.”
10:37pm – Sarasota Herald-Tribune is reporting only “sporadic power outages, minor street flooding and some beach erosion.”
11:04pm – Rain sounds like its stopped again. I can’t guarantee any sleep, but I’m probably going to go to bed now.
11:09pm – Go into bedroom to discover my bed is unmade…because my sheets are still in the washer. I’m up for another hour at least.
11:29pm – I’m pretty sure everything is done for the night. The rain is gone and the winds while still gusty sound like they’ve calmed down significantly.
The rain and wind continued through the night. Unfortunately
the window in my hotel room overlooked the adjacent unit (which was apparently
empty) and the sound of the a\c essentially drowned out any outside noise, so I
was able to forget all about the storm for the night.
I woke up at 7am with the noisy kids in the room behind my
headboard. I showered, got dressed and just as I was heading downstairs the
phone rang. “All church services were cancelled – I could go back to bed.”
Now she tells me, now that I’m all ready for…nothing.
She suggested I go downstairs for breakfast as lunch
probably wouldn’t be until sometime after noon. There was maybe one table left
in the hotel’s tiny breakfast area, and the line was long enough that if I knew
if I went up for seconds the seat would be gone. Fortunately, that wasn’t a
problem as their bland, dried out buffet food was barely worth firsts.
The christening was cancelled (or at least postponed), but
the after service get-together was still going on as scheduled. Someone had to
eat all the food they’d bought, the cake they’d ordered and those baby gifts in
the trunk were definitely not going back with us.
Said food consisted of small sandwiches, chips\salsa, a
crock pot full of ground beef for sloppy joes (not the same batch from my other
brother’s party), and of course the aforementioned cake…now utterly
My older brother arrived around 1:30pm (when most of the
food was gone) with my other nieces – and Luke – in tow. They weren’t
particularly hungry when they got there, but Luke enjoyed sneaking away chips
when his mom wasn’t looking. Eventually, Lilly’s dad pulled an old Matchbox
playset out of the closet and the kids spent the next hour or so racing with
them until they were chased to another part of the house (as their initial play
area was directly below the room where Lilly was sleeping).
Finally around 3pm, we left. The rain had stopped, the winds
had subsided, and the sun was trying to peek out. Shepard Smith was STILL
hosting live coverage of the storm, but he now sounded weary and tired,
mustering as much enthusiasm as a cashier at a fast food restaurant.
It was a long, but relatively quiet, ride back to the coal region.
The few signs of damage dried up the further away from the city we drove until
the only lingering indication of a storm was an occasional puddle along the
side of the road.
Luke’s party was at 3pm which meant we didn’t have to leave
until around noon, but with my dad’s childish stall tactics in play (he HATES
family get-togethers) we didn’t actually leave the house until closer to 1pm.
When we were finally able to drag him out to the car, the
first thing he did was complain about the “damned caterwauling” on the radio.
There was nothing “wrong” with the singer’s voice, he just wanted to spread his
misery around which he proved by demanding mom change the station to something
he liked even though: a) he didn’t say what that might be, b) he refused to
take the station list she handed him, and c) she was DRIVING at the time.
We were finally able to agree on FNC radio – okay, it was
the station least protested – which was providing round-the-clock coverage of
the hurricane: the accrued damages, the evacuations and the storm’s projected
path all with Shepard Smith’s over-excited – almost giddy – mantra of “NYC’s
gettin’ a HURRICANE!”
It was 3pm, and we were barely to Hamburg yet, but dad
insisted on stopping at a gas station to pick up snacks for the hotel room. I
was able to go in, use the restroom, buy a coffee and come out before mom was
done at the pump. Dad took another 10 minutes to come out with a single
half-filled bag of… whatever. Did I mention he hates family get-togethers?
We arrived sometime after 4pm, and I helped mom take the
presents out of the back of mom’s car, while dad just stood there complaining
loudly about a “lack of directions.” Finally, he stormed off to the side patio
for a “kids-today-are-outta-control” rant with my Luke’s other grandpa.
Meanwhile, the dozen or so small children assembled for my
nephew’s party were playing in the backyard, oblivious to any coming storm.
They’d remain that way until the gradually darkening skies finally gave way to
short bursts of moderately heavy rain – a brief sampler of things to come later
Dinner, in the form of sloppy joes and hors d’oeuvres was
served around 6pm, and the rain had let up enough for us to eat outside (under
a small tent). The cake was served around 7pm, and we left for the hotel shortly
before 9pm in the fierce wind and heavy rain… conditions that were expected to
continue through my niece’s christening the next morning.