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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fran and Irene

Almost exactly 15 years ago, Hurricane Fran roared through Raleigh. There are no indications that Irene will be as severe as Fran. Some of the things I remember from 1996:
  • The house shook several times during the strongest wind gusts, which were clocked at 80 mph by RDU airport.
  • The eye passed directly over our house. Sometime around 3:30 am, I was able to walk outside and see the stars.
  • Surprisingly, our electricity was restored after only four days. Many neighborhoods in Raleigh waited much longer. The fact that all the lines from my house to the nearest substation are underground was a major factor in early restoration, I'm sure -- along with the happy outcome that no fallen trees uprooted any of the buried cables.
  • The City of Raleigh maintained water supply throughout, so we did not have to use the emergency water store that I had made (by filling a large Coleman cooler with water, after disinfecting the cooler walls with bleach.)
  • One of Ryan's youth hockey coaches died during the cleanup when a tree fell on him.
  • The City provided a large dumpster for our cul-de-sac, just as the City had done after the 1988 Thanksgiving tornado. I think the City did a fantastic job with cleanup.
  • To my astonishment, Time Warner restored cable TV service faster than BellSouth restored landline telephone service. At the time of Fran, we did not have cellular service.
It's unimaginable that our house would flood no matter how severe the storm is. That's not true, however, for the distant neighbors who live down the hill. 

The largest trees on the lot when we moved here in 1987 have been victimized by the aforesaid tornado, Fran, Hurricane Floyd in 1999, and two thunderstorms (one tree having spectacularly exploded after a direct lightning strike). Only a few trees remain that could cause serious damage to the house, were they to fall. It's always possible that this could happen, but I worry about it less. 

As for roof damage, we got a new roof from the insurance company after Floyd. I believe it's still in decent shape. 

Tomorrow afternoon Ryan and I will move items off the deck into the garage, along with trash cans. Late in the day I'll take down the American flag, and then we wait and see what happens.

By the way, there's an interesting note on the web page of the local NWS forecast office that the National Hurricane Center's computer models usually overstate wind velocities inland. That's why the local forecast is calling for wind gusts only in the 30s, whereas the NHC maps says there is a 60-70% chance that we will have sustained winds of at least tropical storm force (39 mph) with higher gusts. WRAL-TV is splitting the difference with the possibility of wind gusts in the 50s, probably on the eastern side of the Triangle.