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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

It's a quarter 'til freak-out

Try to sleep. Wait until morning. See where this thing is going -- we'll have a better idea then, when it makes some progress.

Find out it's a 5 and the most powerful recorded storm EVER. Repeat these facts several times in wonder to the sleepy husband you just telephoned and woke. Discuss plans. Scoff at plans. Make no plans. Wait and see.

Open a house for a showing. Observe barometer hanging on the wall: Change in Weather. Numbness. Sit weakly in front of computer screen remainder of day while nervous vacationers pop in wondering what to do. Click on NOAA. Check projected path. Check for new advisories. Click on Wunderground. Check storm computer models. Analyze strike probability data. Debate odds loudly. Click on Navy weather site. Compare models. Speculate. Hit "Refresh" often. Swap hurricane stories with co-workers. Try to be upbeat. Make half-hearted jokes. Wonder when the window panels will start going up.

Main street stroll to the grocery for lunch. Game faces on. Ho-hum. Business as usual. Just another day in Paradise. Overhear a conversation that So-and-so's family has already packed up and headed out. "Lovely day, isn't it?"

"Turn, turn, turn, damn it." "We need it to turn now! We need to be on the north side of it!" "Let it hit Naples, they could stand to have their hair mussed up a little."

Boarded windows appearing. But it's too soon...

Find station with Regular gas priced at $2.68 per gallon. No gas. Pass twenty more stations -- five are dark and fifteen have cars stacked five deep at the pumps. Find station with no lines. Pump ten gallons before station tank runs dry. Everyone driving a little faster, a little more erratically. Grocery shop for school lunch fixings. Notice bread and water shelves have been picked clean. Impulse shop. Balance towering stack of supplies in arms. Distribute more goods to little helpers' arms. Realize a cart would have been smarter. Top off tank at a gas station close to home. "Hurry up ma'am, it's about empty." Pay $3.01 for Premium.

Check the "cone of uncertainty" online. Debate staying up for near hysterical newscast. Know that this thing's path is not going to show much progress in the morning when you wake up -- presuming you get to sleep. Realize it won't make any noticeable progress until it's ready to hit, and then will blast through when it's too late. Hope there will be enough time for spouse to travel from Tampa to Fort Lauderdale to Punta Gorda, to the island to remove a few valuables, and back to the rental to board up the windows.

Stay or go? Stay or go? It's still to early to tell.

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