Friday, August 15, 2008


We are at the Lighthouse Beach & Bird Sanctuary, in Port Lavaca, Texas (map), operated by the city. We stayed here once before, over three years ago, and passed right by it just this April as well.

This is a far cry from South Padre Island, which is where I expected to go after Mercedes, even Twittering to that effect. However, this morning's Atlantic tropical forecast made us change our plans.

We've been watching a tropical low known as "Investigation Area 92" (AL922008) for the last couple of days, and, this morning, it looked very much like it would become a bona fide tropical depression by mid-day, with strong potential to develop into a tropical storm. This morning's track forecast models had the storm making US landfall anywhere from the Florida panhandle all the way to the Carolinas, in possibly as little as four days.

Now, Mercedes, Texas is more than 1,500 miles from south Florida, nearly three days' drive for us. South Padre Island is even further -- the only route north out of southeast Texas is state highway 77 from Harlingen, and we'd go right past it on our way to South Padre. So while a couple days R&R there was somewhat appealing (alhough this is really the wrong time of year for it, and there is still a good deal of damage from Dolly), especially spending a day at the Schlitterbahn water park there in the high-90s temperatures, we decided instead to start moving toward Houston, to be in a somewhat better position should AL922008 develop into a tropical cyclone.

Of course, that's exacly what has happened -- AL922008 is now officially Tropical Storm Fay. The forecast models have been updated since this morning, and all models except the BAMD now have the cyclone swinging into the eastern gulf after crossing western Cuba, which would give it a panhandle landfall around Wednesday morning, probably as a hurricane. The NHC has set its official forecast track closer to the BAMD, projecting the storm across the Florida Keys as early as Monday morning. I believe the NHC is simply erring on the side of caution here, and we are watching the storm closely as it proceeds across Hispaniola.

A landfall in the keys would mean we would not only have much less time to get there, but also a lot further to travel. However, the storm would also have less time over open water to intensify into a large threat. In either case, we know we need to be east of here in a big hurry if we are going to be truly useful assets for any response to this event.

We had hoped to make some stops to visit friends in Channelview (east of Houston) and Beaumont as we made our way slowly along the gulf, but it now looks like we will blast out of here towards Louisiana in the morning, unless the storm dissipates or changes track substantially.

In hindsight, we should have continued on 77 direct toward Houston rather than diverting here to Port Lavaca. But we did not get the latest forecast updates until we were here and had the dish deployed, and we were hoping, when we made this decision, that little would come of this storm, and we'd simply continue on along the gulf, perhaps spending a night or so at Galveston Island State Park before heading to Beaumont. Besides, we knew it would be quite a bit cooler here on the water, rather than further inland.

In fact, we took the scooters out for the first time since Wyoming, fired them up, and rode over to the Tropical Bar and Grill for dinner. The seabreeze was pleasant enough for us to eat outdoors on the deck, overlooking the bay.

In the morning, we'll be checking in with the various tropical weather forecast sites before making a final decision on routes. We'll either be in Galveston tomorrow night, or somewhere east of the Texas line, depending on what we find out.


  1. Well, it looks like Fay may be paying us a visit here in Naples, FL. Hopefully she will be well out in the Gulf and not decide to make landfall near Sanibel Island like Charlie did 4 years ago! We're hoping she will just pass by or better yet fizzle out or make a U-turn. We'd like you both to make a visit to Naples, but not as Red Cross volunteers! :) Safe travels.


  2. Hi Sean, Louise,& "kids".
    Just thought I drop ya a note and let ya know again the state of TX has us on standby alert. Be safe, and keep us posted as to where abouts your being sent! I'm always hoping that if and when we get dispatched, we'll be in an area near ya'll and get a chance to get together for dinner or something.
    ;D BK ;D

  3. If you take 87, you'll be going through Victoria, where I used to live (and miss terribly). Watch your speed through Kendleton, well-known for its speed trap.


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