The power went out minutes after I posted the last message, about 10:03 thursday sept 18. It finally came back on this morning at 05:30. It was the longest I can ever remember being without power, aside from camping:-). That was basically what we ended up doing, except for the nice fact that we had hot water thanks to natural gas.
After the power went, things got progressively worse as the storm came in. Though downgraded to a borderline cat 2 at landfall, it still packed quite a wallop, and did severe damage on the NC outer banks. Several new inlets were created, and many beachfront houses destroyed by the combination of wind and water. It will be weeks before that area is anywhere close to normal. The roadways are broken up and/or buried in sand, services are down and damaged almost completely, and access is very limited.
As for Hampton Roads, we have just had the worst storm anyone can remember. In Fox Hill, which is one of the lowest-lying neigborhoods in Hampton, one friend of a friend had a mark where the water came up in the 1962 storm, which was previously the worst in memory. Isabel bested that mark by at least a foot.
Many homes were flooded, but the worst damage came from the trees. After a very wet summer, with 10" above normal rainfall, the ground was pretty well soaked. Then 70-80 kt winds were all that was needed to rip trees out by the roots, and lay them over on houses, across roads, and across power and phone lines.
In our neighborhood, flooding was not an issue. We are pretty well elevated here, so storm tidal surges were not able to get this far, and we really did not get that much rainfall from the storm, so no flash flooding either. But wind we got. In fact, we got one of the strongest recorded gusts in the area, 82 kts.
The evidence is all through the neigborhood. A house around the corner was bisected by a large tree. Several had minor to moderate damage from either close calls with trees or just wind ripping off shingles and siding. One house nearby was hit with two big trees, shearing off one whole side, and smashing the roof in, as well as crushing a car in the driveway.
Several trees right near me were ripped down, but didn't appear to hit anything. My neighbor next door lost his entire fence, but it was kinda rotten anyway and due for replacement, so that just accelerated his plans.
We were very lucky. The only damage we incurred was a broken fence section from the neighbor's tree falling. Luckily, the one that fell was a fairly short dead trunk. The two trees on either side of it held. If either of those fell, it would have definitely damaged our house, and to a pretty large degree.
With so much of the area dark, it was kind of a new pleasure to gaze at the stars. Not to many other options for entertainment were available. I re-discovered my scanner and shortwave radios, which had not seen a lot of use lately. Acoustic guitars still worked, and I built up some finger callouses that had gotten soft from playing electric all the time.
Improvised cooking using the gas grill (not so good for heating pots!) and a home brew camping stove that burns army surplus Triox tablets kept us in hot canned food and MRE's I had saved for such an occasion. The neighbors who had meat in their freezers cooked it all up and passed it around. We had laid in a supply of canned food, bottled water, nuts, and fresh fruit and cereal, which helped too.
Our water supply is still contaminated, and so it is usable for washing and bathing, but must be boiled or treated with bleach to consume. That advisory should be lifted by tomorrow.
So we survived our worst storm, got out very very lucky, and only with minor inconvenience. If I was a praying man, I suppose I would thank someone, but since I am not, I'll just enjoy my good fortune and see what I can do to help my less fortunate neighbors. It might be me next time.
0600: Squall bands are coming through in waves. So far, ~20-30 kt winds and fairly light rain. Atm pressure made a steady drop down to 29.90" from 30.10" Hg last night.
Last night I made a photo-inventory of stereo and computer equipment, guitars, and furniture, just in case. Not too worried about direct storm winds, but tornadoes are always possible, and could be far more locally destructive.
Didn't board windows, but did tape them to limit potential shattering. Some folks in our neighborhood put plywood up on theirs, but I didn't think that was necessary in this area. Direct storm winds are not likely to be that strong here, and if we do get a tornado, it won't matter. We brought in or lashed down lawn furniture, bird feeders, trash cans, etc. to limit the number of potential missiles.
By this time tomorrow, it should be all but over for us here, and hopefully we won't see damage.
Guess I don't use this journal very much, but I figured I would try to keep a log during the attack of Hurricane Isabel.
I am located in SE VA, so the projected track of the storm center is not across us, but we will be NE of it, and so get a load of wind effects.
Looks like the first serious weather will hit NC Outer Banks in about 12 hrs, at about 0800.
Our worries will really begin around noon. The first little band of showers just came through, and winds are building, but still only about 20kts.
Thought about leaving, but then decided based on projections, that it was an over-reaction, at least for us. Our house is on pretty high ground, and not close to any bodies of water, and is also in the center of a pretty well developed area, so winds will not be as great as those for folks near the beach or in more open, rural areas.
Still, I am concerned. My biggest worry is trees and limbs coming down on the house. The ground is pretty soft already due to above average summer rainfall, and particularly from T-storms and showers in the last week. The news just reported a tree down on a house in VA Beach, and the winds are not strong at all yet there, either.
I just finished reading Neil Peart's "Ghost Rider" and Bruce Campbell's "If Chins Could Kill". Interesting insights into both men's lives, and documents their individual struggles with life. But the books induced diametrically opposed feelings. Funny, I never used to read biographical works, but lately it is all I have read.
So whither burritos or tacos de carne asada? Hmm, both have the required yummy taste. I think the true draw, at least to my palate, is that the latter come swaddled in delicious steamed corn tortillas (tortillas de masa?). Out of all the delightful treats on the menu at the local taco joint, only one is certain to get you a nice warm corn tortilla, and that is a taco in some form.
Of course, you could opt for the "taco bell" hard, pre-formed shell that tends to disintegrate upon the first bite, except in those rare instances when the thing is fresh and freshly baked or at least warmed to the point of crunchiness.
But to get the true flavor of Mexico, you must have a pair (yeah, to make 'em strong enough) of warm, steamed corn tortillas wrapping a fistful of tasty meat and pico de gallo, with hot pureed pepper (preferably habanero, serrano, or chipotle) salsa, and optionally, white cheese.
And if you get the real thing, from a vendor right on the streets of Tijuana or some other town, you will get a delicious concoction as described above. The only unknown there is the origin of the meat, leading to the affectionate descriptor, "canine asada". Fido (or Mr. Ed) never tasted so good, especially after a rollicking afternoon of cheap Coronas and watered down tequila shots.