May 9, 2001
1:29 PM   Subscribe

In looking for a Hurricane Andrew image to illustrate a point on the ham radio thread, I came across evidence that the weather geeks may be the geekiest of all. Cool pull quote inside.
posted by baylink (9 comments total)
As mentioned earlier, routine weather observations ended at the airport before the full force of Andrew's (northern) eyewall winds arrived. However, the official weather observer there, Mr. Scott Morrison, remained on-station and continued to watch the wind speed dial. Mr. Morrison notes that around 0845 UTC (0445 EDT) the wind speed indicator "pegged" at a position a little beyond the dial's highest marking of 100 kt, at a point that he estimates corresponds to about 110 kt. (Subsequent tests of the wind speed dials observed at the airport indicate that the needles peg at about 105 kt and 108 kt, respectively). He recounts that the needle was essentially fixed at that spot for three to five minutes, and then fell back to 0 when the anemometer failed.

Showoff. :-)
posted by baylink at 1:31 PM on May 9, 2001

The hurricane went to 11!
posted by lileks at 1:50 PM on May 9, 2001

Why not just make 10 higher?
posted by starvingartist at 1:55 PM on May 9, 2001

But, it went to 11.
posted by greensweater at 1:58 PM on May 9, 2001

I think what most people not familiar with the region don't understand is how much worse Andrew could have been. Another 10-15 miles north and it would have hit Miami and reduced a major metropolitan area to shreds, Kendall (which took the brunt) by comparison is a medium sized suburb. I lived in South Florida at the time, but was luckily out of state. We went down to Kendall post-hurricane, and the destruction was unimaginable. A lot of the people down there moved rather than rebuild (this contributed to my school increasing about 10% in population the next year, making it even more overcrowded).
posted by owillis at 2:04 PM on May 9, 2001

I was in Charlotte, NC, visiting my parents when Hugo hit in 1989. 250 miles inland from landfall, so we were quite unprepared. My parents' house is in the middle of the woods, trees on all sides, so there was considerable damage-5 trees on the roof, deck totally destroyed. I don't think I've ever feared for my life like I did that night.

After cutting my way out of the driveway the next day, I explored the city a bit. Like a war zone--all traffic lights out, a smashed house on every block. Charlotte lost 1/3 of its trees. And this was from a mild hurricane. I can only imagine what Andrew would've been like.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:27 PM on May 9, 2001

baylink - Thanks! Now whenever someone calls me a Weather Geek, I can refer to that page and say, "Nuh-uh!"
posted by quirked at 4:59 PM on May 9, 2001

Yeah, I grew up in Miami and missed my first couple weeks of high school because of Andrew. Owillis: your recollections are pretty similar to mine. One estimate (in the Herald) suggested a quarter of a trillion dollars in property damage would have resulted if the eye had passed through downtown instead of Kendall/Homestead. As it was it was the most damaging natural disaster in American history anyway.

I think one of the two things that will always stick in my head were talking to my Aunt on the phone. We had phone service the whole time, but no power, so therefore no TV. She was watching CNN, which was flying the first copter over Homestead Air Force Base, and she just sort of stopped talking because the base was completely leveled. We were all sitting there thinking "this place was designed to be bombed and it just got flattened" and realizing what that meant to the tens of thousands of homes down there.

The other image that will always stick was driving down the Turnpike through the wreckage, and looking out from an elevated section and realizing that (effectively) there was *nothing* standing above 6-8 feet tall for a couple miles. No tall trees and for the most part no roofs- some of the sub-developments around there had to have 60-70 percent of the houses demolished and rebuilt.

We were lucky; our house was built in the 1920s and built like a rock. In contrast, some people I know came out of their bathrooms after the storm to find out that every other room in the house was strewn across their yard.

Anyway... I hesitate to call the author of this a weather geek, mainly because they get paid to do this kind of thing. Now, if this had been written up for fun... ;)
posted by louie at 6:05 PM on May 9, 2001

We had phone service the whole time, but no power, so therefore no TV.



I hesitate to call the author of this a weather geek, mainly because they get paid to do this kind of thing.

He wasn't getting paid to do *that*; he was supposed to evac.

*My* favorite story? FP&L is, I think, the power company thereabouts. They have, y'know, those big side-of-the-road transformers on the big concrete pads? [At least] One of those went missing from the storm.

40+ *tons*.

It was *never* found. (They're serial numbered; they apparently found some others that got blown miles from their installation points...)
posted by baylink at 10:54 AM on May 10, 2001

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