Friday, February 19, 2010

Significant Weather Event

For the last few days I have been hoping that Chris Parker of Caribbean Weather Center will change his mind about the winter storm of the decade. At 6:20 am each day one of us jumps out of the bunk and runs to the single side band radio, hoping that propagation will be sufficient for us to hear Chris telling us he was only kidding.

But he hasn’t. As a matter of fact, he continues to forecast the high velocity winds and squalls and now tells us that all the models agree.

It is Friday, February 12th, and Chris’s Significant Weather Event is forecast to escalate at sunset, about an hour away. Winds are predicted to blow 30 gusting 38 with squalls 15 knots over the gradient (38 plus 15 equals a bucket load of wind). It is howling at about 25 knots now, with First Edition continuing to sit with the current, while the wind is beating us on the beam.

A five knot increase from 25 knots to 30 is not a leap of 20%. I don’t understand the physics to it, but it is a hell of a lot more than 20%. That carunching coral reef hasn’t moved, although we did, picking up anchor to reset to get another 20 feet out to improve the scope. Hang in there Buster.

At 8 pm we turn in hoping to get some shuteye before the squalls hit around midnight. Peter sets the alarm for then in order to start an anchor watch, but really does not need to as the wind and rain arrive as predictably as the tax forms in January. We are monitoring channel 16, and some complacent cruiser with three big anchors set is telling how he picked up satellite weather, and the winds ran 70 knots in Miami. We don’t really want to know this.

Later, same fellow tells us the squalls have hit Bimini, and they are in a narrow band moving at 52 mph. This doesn’t mean anything to me (I dropped my weather course, twice) but sure sounds like I should continue worrying. Next I know it is 4:30 am, and the Captain is crawling into the bunk after his four and a half hour survey of the anchorage. He has decided the dangerous part of the storm has blown itself out, or gone North, or merged with some fancy pants system away from us. I don’t get it, but I wrap myself around my husband and I am thankful for Buster the oversized Spade Anchor, the best anniversary present I ever received.

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