Waiting and Watching

When you live in the hurricane prone areas of the US, one of the things that you learn quickly is that the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore has an uncanny skill in predicting where a hurricane will make its presence felt, then doing live broadcasts from that spot in the days leading up to the hurricane making landfall. The last thing you ever want to see is Cantore standing in front of a camera in your neighborhood.

It turns out that Jim Cantore is doing his reports from Clearwater Beach tonight. As for me, I usually have a lot of supplies and don’t need any. Still…

So keep an eye on the hurricane (now a tropical storm) as it approaches. The 1700 report just came out, and the storm has slowed its approach since I last posted. We should have been, based on Friday’s reports, been at 48 hours out from storm conditions this evening. Instead, we are now supposedly looking at the center coming in between Cedar Key and Horseshoe Beach sometime on Thursday night as a Major Hurricane upper end of Category 3, or the lower end of Category 4.

What is significant about this path is that it places northern Central Florida on the east side of the storm, which is the ‘dangerous’ side. This is the side of the storm where most of the wind field, rain, and tornadoes are found. At any rate, we are in a good spot for avoiding the worst of it, simply because we are dozens of miles from the Gulf of Mexico. That means we will avoid most of the bad parts of the storm, but will still be looking at hours of winds in the 40-60 miles per hour range, as well as rain of a foot or more.

Storm strength is in categories, which is set by wind speed. An increase of one category increases the pressure on your house by a factor of four. The good news is that the area of highest winds is near the center. The bad news is that tropical storm force winds extend out for hundreds of miles, as does the chance of tornadoes, and the large amounts of torrential rain.

So if you want to evacuate, do so now. If you wait too long, you can find yourself stuck in traffic. If you must evacuate after the rest of the thundering herd has taken to the roads, you might think about wanting to head the opposite way from the rest of them. For example, heading south. That is a mistake, because Florida will institute a plan called “contraflow” where both sides of the highways leading away from evacuation are used to move people in the same direction, making travel in the other direction impossible. I expect Hurricane Watches will go up in the southwestern parts of the state tomorrow, and evacuations will be announced at that time. Once that happens, people will start losing their shit.

Having worked as the shelter medic at multiple shelters during my earlier career days, I will tell you: don’t go to a shelter unless you’re told to evacuate and have no other options. Shelters aren’t fun, and they’ll be at capacity. They are packed with dirty, smelly, and sick people that are not pleasant to be around. Many of them are drug addicts. Avoid them unless you have no other choice.

While forecasts at day four or five are a coin toss, the accuracy begins climbing rapidly when we look at the 2-3 day timeframe.

If you are anywhere on the Gulf Coast between Biloxi and Miami, I would recommend keeping an eye on this for at least the next couple of days.

Today is Action Day

If you are anywhere on the Florida peninsula, today is the day where you need to decide what you are going to do to prepare for this storm. It’s tough to do, because we are still 4 or 5 days from landfall, meaning that the cone covers virtually the entire state of Florida. Will you evacuate? If so, to where? Will you prepare to ride out the storm? What you decide will depend on your own unique situation.

If you are a tourist in the Keys, for example, get out. There is no reason to stay. All of the tourism businesses are going to close, so there will be nothing to do. Why risk it?

If you live in the state, make a plan. Use the Florida evacuation zone maps to guide you. Staying put in a home on the shore in the face of a hurricane is a pain in the ass at best, and dangerous at worst.

Me? I live dozens of miles from the coast and I don’t live in a flood zone, so storm surge and flooding aren’t an issue. Wind, having to live without power for up to 2 weeks, and possible tornadoes are. So for me, I don’t even consider leaving for anything less than being in the direct path of the core of a Category 4 hurricane. If you do decide to leave, do it early. If you haven’t left by 48 hours before the hurricane is due to make landfall, you risk being trapped in traffic on the road as storm force winds approach.

This is forecast to be on the low level of Cat 3, or the upper end of Cat 2. So I am staying put. My three day checklist is done. One of the items for the day that many overlook is data. If for some reason your possessions are destroyed, the one thing that is most difficult to replace is data. Make sure that there are scans and backup copies of personal data: your driver’s license, professional licenses, birth certificates, bank information, etc. I used to put them on a thumb drive that was encrypted by True Crypt, but that software has been discontinued. I do not yet have a recommended replacement.

My suggestion would be for the people who invented the ransomware that attacked me in 2020 to write some encryption software. No one can crack that shit, so go legit and make a pile of money. Anyhow. BE ready.

For now, I am off to work.

5 days

As of this morning, all of the Florida peninsula is within the 5 day cone of a potential major hurricane.

Now if you have been watching these sorts of things for any amount of time, you know that the 5 day predictions of hurricane paths are about as accurate as a coin flip. The hurricane is as likely to hit here as not. However, it is still prudent to keep an eye on things. Even a 40% chance of disaster is worth keeping an eye on.

So I have a well used checklist for hurricanes around here. At 5 days, we do the following:

  • Retrieve extra fuel and water containers from storage.
  • Ensure that there is a good supply of batteries.
  • Check the yard for loose debris.
  • Since you can’t run a genny during a hurricane, you need chemsticks for light when the power is out. Safer than candles and more reliable and useful for general light than flashlights, you can get them for less than a buck apiece. Make sure you have plenty.
  • Watch the storm updates as they come out every 6 hours: at 0500, 1100, 1700, and 2300.

It’s important to remember that the predictions of the hurricane folks are for the center of the hurricane. Tropical storm force winds are located far from this point. For example, in the case of Hurricane Fiona, the latest forecast shows 35 knot (40 mph) winds extending 290 miles to the northeast and 350 miles to the southwest of the center. Since the storm is moving at 35 miles per hour, damaging 40 mile per hour winds can be expected to begin 10 or 12 hours before the center arrives. If the above prediction cone is correct, we can expect the onset of heavy winds to begin on Tuesday night, sometime around sunset.

What this means to those of us in Florida is that the five day cone is really a 4 day warning of storm conditions. That means my three day checklist would have to begin tomorrow evening, except I am working tomorrow. That means I will have my wife get some of it done.

The pre-event checklist will need to be complete by Tuesday Morning. We haven’t had to prep for a hurricane since Labor day weekend 2019, and that one was a bust. The last storm we had here was Hurricane Irma in 2017, and we were without power for about 4 days.

Tac Pack, part 2

The June Tac Pack arrived last week, but I must admit that other stories took priority. I heard about Tac Pack and decided to give them a try. It’s sort of like a “jelly of the month” club, but for gun guys. The way it works is that you subscribe, they charge you $60 a month, and you get a package of random gun related stuff. 

You will remember that I was trying out the Tac Pack back in May, and I said I would review it for another month, so here goes:

This month’s Tac Pack had the following items:

So the total value is right around $74, or $99 if you pay MSRP. A couple of items that I can use, but the fire starting tool is the only thing that I think is cool. Judging by the (lack of) interesting stuff from last month, I don’t think this is worth the money. I can accumulate miscellaneous junk on my own without a subscription.

I don’t think it is a ripoff, but I also don’t think that I want to spend $60 a month on it.

EDITED TO ADD: I went to cancel, but they have already billed me for the July shipment (they bill on the 20th), which means that I will get a third box.

As usual, the disclaimer: I don’t advertise, and receive nothing for my reviews. I have no relationship with any products or vendors that I review here, other than being a customer. I pay what you would pay. I only post these things because I think that my readers would be interested.


I think that I have a pretty good amount of supplies laid in. With that being said:

Just because the Dems are going nuts, I went to GunMag Warehouse and ordered some Hexmag 30 round magazines in 5.56 for $10 each, and 20 round 7.62 NATO at $15 each.

Then I went to 2Awarehouse and ordered some 5.56 Lake City Greentip at 65 cents per round. I know there is cheaper ammo out there, but it’s usually dirty, steel cased, and 55 grains. This stuff also comes in a can and already on the stripper clips. I also got some subsonic 9mm at 54 cents a round. I was running low on subsonic stuff for the can.

I have a good stock of ammo, with my ammo count being a 5 digit number. I know there are some people with more, but we all stock what we can afford without having the spousal unit getting upset.

As usual, the disclaimer: I don’t advertise, and receive nothing for my reviews. I have no relationship with any products or vendors that I review here, other than being a customer. I pay what you would pay. I only post these things because I think that my readers would be interested.

Tac Pack

I heard about Tac Pack and decided to give them a try. It’s sort of like a “jelly of the month” club, but for gun guys. The way it works is that you subscribe, they charge you $60 a month, and you get a package of random gun related stuff. This was my first month, and I am still not sure if I want to continue.

This month, the package contained:

All in all, the box is valued at around $100, if you were to buy the items yourself, so I can definitely say that it is not a ripoff or a scam. The only issue is that I don’t know if it is worth it to me, as I wouldn’t have gone out and bought this stuff on my own.

I will try it for one more month to see if I really like it.

As usual, the disclaimer: I don’t advertise, and receive nothing for my reviews. I have no relationship with any products or vendors that I review here, other than being a customer. I pay what you would pay. I only post these things because I think that my readers would be interested.

Roll Your Own

One of the problems with storing food is that your stores are finite. That is, they eventually will run out. So you need to have a way of securing more food once those supplies are gone. If you are like me, you don’t have a lot of room for growing food, and raised beds are a good way to grow food in a small area.

If you are considering building a raised garden so you can grow your own vegetables, consider this video as a helpful starting place:

If you happen to live in Florida, you know that we have some unique issues here: heat, humidity, large amounts of strong sunlight, sandy soil, and a plethora of insects. This channel is created by a Florida raised bed gardener. I am sure you will find it helpful.

PACE plan

Your communications. The way that we communicate with the outside world. Think for a moment how you do that and how important that is. How robust are your communications? What would your life look like, if it was all taken from you? Once you realize that, you can look at your own situation and plan for the loss of some or most of your communications.

The PACE acronym is a great way to remember your communications plan. Let me explain: PACE is an acronym for Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency. Whenever communications between two parties are important, that line of communications will progress through those four stages until communications are reestablished. PACE is how we designate the order in which the parties move through available communications systems until contact can be established between the two parties.

Just how critical the line of communications is between those two parties will dictate how many steps are used. Ideally each method will be completely separate and independent of the other systems of communication. As an example, let’s look at a sample of communications between two parties:

  • Primary: This is the primary means that contact is made. It is monitored continuously. In our example, we know that the two parties constantly carry cell phones, so they have chosen to primarily communicate using cell phones to send text messages and/or phone calls.
  • Alternate: This is a secondary means of communication that is monitored nearly continuously. It uses, but does not require, cell phones. In this case, our two parties use email sent over the Internet.
  • Contingency: This method will not be as fast, easy, or convenient as the first two methods, but is capable of accomplishing the task. The parties rarely monitor this method. In this case, our two parties have agreed that they will reach each other by using radios. They have also agreed upon a channel/frequency plan that will be used to communicate.
  • Emergency: This is a method of reestablishing contact of last resort and typically has significant delays, costs, and/or impacts. Often only monitored when the other means fail. In the case of our two individuals, they have agreed to communicate by means of messages that will be left with at known trusted location (think geo caching, or a dead drop) A message might read: “Hey Skunk: I’m doing well. I will be at drop 6 in three days. Meet me in three days by arriving at point Chevy and calling on Channel Green. Booger sends”

Make sure that you have a way to reach those important to you. Make sure those communication paths are redundant. Make sure that they are secure. The time to plan is now. Hat tip to Aesop for the post idea.