Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Jimena (Tuesday Evening): And Now We Wait

The good news is that according to most of the major models Jimena is stalling as it hits land fall and tears itself apart.* The bad news is that it is probably going to rain buckets in central Baja between Santa Rosalia and Guerrero Negro for days. The probability of Highway 1 making it through the storm is, IMHO, roughly the same percentage as your average soccer score. The strong rains could bring serious flooding to the entire central part of the peninsula closing off these areas -- and incidentally everything south of here including Cabo and La Paz -- for potentially quite a long time.

Historically, the last time a major hurricane stalled over those mountains, Santa Rosalia flooded. This sent tons of garbage, mud and debris sliding down main street and an arroyo to the south of the marina. There was so much gunk swooping down on the water front that the port captain had to close the harbor for nearly two weeks. Locals tell us that Highway 1 wasn't clear of large boulders for months.

It's good time to be on a fully provisioned boat with my own capacity for power and water generation.

Speaking of the boat, we rode out several early bands of strong rain, wind, and lightening starting with an incredible opening act at precisely 3AM. The skies simply opened up. The lightening and thunder were very impressive, though the winds never really topped gusting 30. The deluge lasted about 20 minutes and then it turned off as quickly as it started leaving us in an incredible, eerie warm damp calm broken only by sirens in the hills. Power went out briefly then came almost immediately back on. Aeron asked me if that was the hurricane. I told her it was just a sampler, like the little cups distributed at Costco. She informed me that she decided she didn't want to buy a big package. Can't say as I blame her.

At about 8 this morning, the wind finally started to climb consistently. We're now at about 20 kts/hr steady with gusts to 25. We could ride on this for weeks. To provide perspective to our non-nautical folks, Don Quixote and Ocean Blue rode out 30 gusting to 35 with a few 40ish peaks on these same docks without any special preparation of the boats or lines whatsoever. The storm tracks now seem encouraging that our peak winds may only be in the 50s here. With all the extra lines and work, the boats should hold well. And at this point, it's looking increasingly like the boats could hold the dock itself together we're so laced up to the shore and other fixed points. We anticipate the worst of it to start about mid-day with the intensity peaking this evening and into the night.

The girls have moved their hurricane party gear into the building on shore where we will take shelter as the winds pick up. Currently, we're letting the kids run around and enjoy the odd light and the wind. The boats aren't bouncy and with no rain, it hardly seems worth locking them up. We -are- banning the pool of course. Thunder cells have been moving in and out since early morning. So far, we still have power to the dock and everyone is charging their batteries up until the last possible moment. With our solar panels down, we're all reluctant to unplug until the power actually starts to fluctuate on shore.

I think I'll spend the morning cleaning house. That prosaic. I might even try to get some laundry done. It's better than fussing over my lines and worrying. The kids do not have school today, but they are becoming considerably more knowledgeable about hurricanes, as you can well imagine. You can talk all you want about wind speed and direction, cyclonic action, storm tracking, and weather bands in a cyclone, but when you watch the weather change moment to moment as the hurricane touches the area, it's a living, breathing science lesson. Mera in particular is fascinated. She's trying to figure out just how six international agencies can come to such totally different conclusions with regard to the track after it hits land. If she figures it out, I'll let you know... I wouldn't put it past her. At present, her opinion of NOGAPS is pretty dim.

I want to thank everyone for all the good wishes and positive karma. If you believe in prayer, then the storm track models suggest it worked since we are no longer in the worst path of danger. If you're more of a pure random number theory type, we rolled lucky 7's that the Navy boys' model was the wrong one. I'll continue to tweet updates until I can do so no longer. There will be a time, no doubt, when I won't even be able to safely use the SSB. No worries. That 'dark time' is when the girls and I will all be safe in a building on shore, and Don Quixote will be riding on her lines out in the harbor. As soon as it's safe to do so, I'll go back to tweeting our status from the radio.

* If you are looking for a good web site to track Jimena, I recommend It has everything there you could possibly need from text to moving graphic representations. Please make sure you click the sponsors as this is cruiser funded, cruiser provided service.


Jane Parker said...

I pray that everyone stays safe during the storm.

John and Rosie said...

Keeping you in our thoughts and prayers, Rosie & John who have been following you since when we were on the Baja Ha Ha 2008