Posts Tagged ‘hurricane’

I hope you have a wonderful Mothers’ Day.

Most of the Florida Sea base are still off.  Monday will likely be a very busy day.  I did see Tim Standfill on base Friday afternoon; we have a small conference group this weekend.  Captain Dennis Wyatt has been working hard  to try to make up for his absence this summer.  This is a good decision for him and Ellen, but the program will not be the same. 🙁

I saw this on Dr. Jeff Masters’ Wunderblog Saturday morning and felt it was worthy of sharing.

Hurricane season is coming
It’s now mid-May, which means that hurricane season is about to start in the East Pacific. The official start of the East Pacific hurricane season is May 15, and the action is already starting to heat up. The first “Invest” of 2012 in the East Pacific, Invest 90E, is located about 700 miles south of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and is moving westward out to sea, posing no threat to any land areas. The European Center model predicts the possibility of another system getting organized in the East Pacific, closer to the coast of Mexico, during the period Wednesday – Friday (May 16 – 18.)

In the Atlantic, where hurricane season officially starts on June 1, the action may also be about to heat up. For the past several days, the GFS model has been consistently predicting the development of a subtropical storm in the Western Caribbean, or waters near Florida, sometime May 19 – May 21. The European Center model has not been on board with this, but has been predicting a very moist flow of tropical air will develop, bringing heavy rains to Florida May 19 – 20. So, it is possible we will see the Atlantic’s first named storm occur in May this year, but the models are very unreliable this far out.

The 2012 Florida Sea Base summer staff members are generally scheduled to arrive on 19 May.  Staff training starts at 0730 Sunday, 20 May 2012.  Fortunately that is an indoor day.  If there is a tropical system maybe it will be past us by the time we need to hit the water.

And here we go – activity in the Atlantic.

Click to enlarge.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape 

The 2011 Hurricane Season officially started on 01 June.  The Colorado State University released an updated forecast to mark the day.  The Florida Sea Base faces this season head-on every year with a “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst” mentality.  If you are attending the Florida Sea Base this summer or have children on our staff, know that we are as prepared as anyone, more so than most, and have a good deal of experience and a great Emergency Action Plan to insure the safest possible experience for you or your child.

Here are some great links for more in-depth reading:

NOAA / National Hurricane Center prediction:
12-18 named storms, 6-10 hurricanes, 3-6 major hurricanes

Colorado State University prediction:
16 named storms, 9 hurricanes, 5 major hurricanes

Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog on the issue:
An average season has 10-11 named storms, 6 hurricanes, 2 major hurricanes

The bottom line is we have the potential for a very active hurricane season.  But it is a forecast, a somewhat scientific guess.  It will be what it will be.  We will hope (and pray) for the best, but prepare for the worst.  We will do our best to be good Scouts and be prepared.  Failing to prepare is preparing for failure; or something like that.  If there is only one hurricane, it will be a bad hurricane season for whomever gets hit.

Invest 93 has passed us by and is in the Gulf of Mexico generally headed towards the Texas coast.  We remain very breezy and warm locally with very occasional, spotty, evening showers.

Click to enlarge.

Four Coral Reef Sailing crews (S/Vs New Horizon, Sinbad, New Dawn and Blue Ice), one Sea Exploring crew S/V Calypso Gypsy), six Scuba Adventure crews and one  Scuba Certification crew arrived yesterday.   Four additional Coral Reef Sailing crews (S/Vs Wandering Star, Dutch Love, Sprindrift and Conchy) were in for shore leave.  The divers that arrived Sunday had a good day on the reef and the Scuba Certification crew completed their first two open water training dives.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape


Trick or Treat

in Weather  •  0 comments

Tomas intensified very quickly over the last two days to go from Invest, to Tropical Storm (skipping over the tropical depression stage) to hurricane.  Category 2 Hurricane Tomas is now west of the Antilles, in the Caribbean Sea.  So far, the computer models agree that we should be bared any serious effects from Hurricane Tomas.  Since Tomas will likely grow to category 3 or 4 status by Wednesday, we will continue to watch this one VERY closely.  If the system does NOT make a hard turn, we could get NAILED. Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground said Hurricane Tomas is “an unprecedented Lesser Antilles hurricane for late in the season”.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

I don’t have anything else.  I expect to spend a few hours in the office today.  I would like to get another email or two out to the Divemaster candidates.  Plus my expense report is due and I need to work on my presentation for Thursday at the BSA Aquatics Workshop.

Happy Halloween!!!

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Today is day 2 of the Staff Planning Conference at the Florida Sea Base.  Yesterday we discussed program successes, issues and desired enhancements.  It rained all day long and into the evening.  By midnight, we had received about 5″ of rain.  After our meeting we had dinner at the Islamorada Fish Company.  [Capt. Rich missed dinner.  He had to drive to Stock Island for welding class.]  Today we will discuss facilities, maintenance, conference, galley, retail sales and administrative issues.

Hurricane Paula ramped up to category 2 strength quickly yesterday.  Fortunately she is (so far) a very small storm, with hurricane strength winds only reaching out 10 or 11 miles from the eye.  Where she will go is still unanswered.  Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground said yesterday:

The latest set of model runs from 8am EDT (12Z) still show a variety of solutions for the future path of Paula. Steering currents in the Western Caribbean will collapse on Wednesday, potentially allowing Paula to wander in the region for many days. It is also possible that Paula could get caught up in a strong trough of low pressure predicted to traverse the U.S. this week (and spawn a Nor’easter for New England this weekend.) In this scenario, offered by the GFDL model, Paula would make a sharp turn to the east-northeast, hit western Cuba, bring tropical storm-force finds to the Florida Keys on Thursday night, then move into the Bahama Islands on Friday. NHC is making the reasonable forecast of sticking with what the majority of models are saying by predicting that Paula will stall out near the western tip of Cuba. However, residents of South Florida, Central Cuba, and the Bahamas should be prepared for Paula to come their way as a strong tropical storm on Thursday and Friday.

This morning the forecasted track is starting to creep closer to the Keys.  We are definitely in the “cone of death”.

Click to enlarge.

Here is our Thursday and Friday marine weather forecast from the National Weather Service in Key West:

Thursday Night…Tropical storm conditions possible. Northeast to east winds 15 to 20 knots…increasing to 20 to 25 knots and gusty after midnight. Winds strongest well offshore. Seas beyond the reef building to 4 to 7 feet. Seas higher in the gulf stream. Seas inside the reef building to 2 to 4 feet. Nearshore waters a moderate chop…becoming very rough. Numerous showers and scattered thunderstorms.

Friday…Tropical storm conditions possible. North to northeast winds 20 to 25 knots and gusty. Winds strongest well offshore. Seas beyond the reef 5 to 8 feet. Seas higher in the gulf stream. Seas inside the reef 2 to 4 feet. Nearshore waters very rough. Numerous showers and scattered thunderstorms.

I’ll do my best to check the update during lunch.  Right now we are looking at some rain and tolerable winds (we handle east winds the best in our harbor).  But if Paula creeps far enough north to totally miss Cuba she will enter extremely warm water and could intensity quickly.

Stay tuned.  This one may be close.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape


Hurricane Paula

in Weather  •  0 comment

Good morning from the Florida Sea Base.  I have just a few minutes this morning.  After last night’s post, I was thinking about Tropical Storm Paula.  Paula was upgraded to hurricane status this morning.  The general pattern reminds me of Hurricane Wilma (2005) which passed over the Florida Sea Base as a category 3 hurricane.  Wilma wandered for days, like Paula but a little further north.  Then she took a path very similar to the one computer model that has Paula coming through the Keys.  I’m a little nervous that we are getting a little complacent because the very busy 2010 hurricane season has had such little impact on us directly.  We got spanked by Wilma in 2005.  I hope we learned our lesson and don’t drop our guard until the season is really over.

Hurricane Wilma at Florida Sea Base 2005

I am still dragging but I have to get going.  Staff Planning Meeting!!!  Yeah!!!!!

Capt. Steve
Aboard  S/V Escape

The traffic will be easing past the Florida Sea Base enroute to Key West later today for the start of the Labor Day weekend and the end of summer.  Capt. Rich and Capt. Carol have friends visiting and will likewise be west bound tomorrow.

Capt. Rich was a huge help today with the seasonalization of the 2011 budget.  It really is much easier to do with two (or more) people instead of doing it alone.  Lloyd King of the National Office was also a big help in getting me started.  It’s hard to remember how to use this software when you only do it once a year.  Mr. King is the BSA’s Microsoft Forecaster® guru.

It looks like Hurricane Earl is starting to fizzle.  That is great news for the northern US Atlantic coast states.  Hurricane Fiona is going to stay well east of the US.  TD Gaston apparently floundered yesterday but the National Hurricane Center says this the storm may regenerate.  We’re not out of the woods yet.  The wave that I mentioned yesterday should become more notable in about 2 days and another wave will spill off Africa 2 to 3 days after that.  Busy, busy.

Locally the weather is gorgeous.  Except for the tiny but potent cell that hit us at about 02:10.  I poked my up to see if everything was okay topside.  A couple of night fisherman had found temporary refuge at our fuel dock.  As soon as conditions allowed I saw them heading back out, soaked but in good spirits.

Lindsay Kuc sold two sets of scuba gear and one regulator yesterday.  She was born for retail sales.  She also painted in the Thomas Building for much of the day.  Dave Rumbaugh slaved away working on scuba tanks all day.  He is a hard worker.

I’m headed in early today but to the Galley, not the office.  We are without a cook currently so I went to the store yesterday and plan on helping the staff prepare some bacon, eggs and potatoes this morning.  It will be a nice change from bagels and cereal.  I’m hoping for hamburgers for lunch, but we’ll see what happens.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

I mentioned several times that it is very rare to get an all-day, soaking rain at the Florida Sea Base.  Well, yesterday was one of those days.  It started raining around 09:00 and was still raining when I went to bed.

The radar is clear this morning but the wind is brisk at 22 knots from the east.  In the meantime, Hurricane Earl has turned into a Cat 4 beast.  I am relieved he is not visiting here.  Tropical Storm Fiona is on his heals and catching up.  Two scenarios are being suggested by the pros.  (1) Fiona will catch up with Earl and be torn apart.  (2) Fiona will slow down so as to not over take Earl and has a 25% chance of making landfall somewhere on the US east coast.  It is too early to tell.  And a new tropical wave, Invest 98, is following Fiona.

If there are any staff members reading this who have a Face Book account, would you please spread the word that Wednesday (tomorrow) is Capt. Rich’s birthday?  I am sure he would enjoy hearing from as many face book buddies as possible.  Or you can email him at

I received a VERY short email message from former Florida Sea Base staff member Seth Little yesterday.  Those of you who worked spring 2010 may remember that Seth was on his way to Alaska to be a bush pilot.  Seth did not say where he is or what he’s doing, but apparently he is still alive.  Teri Wells has taken possession of her Pearson 35 sailboat and is docked at Smuggler’s Cove Marina adjacent to the Snake Creek Drawbridge in Islamorada.  She is in the market for a used marine head (toilet) if anyone has a spare.  (I actually gave my spare to S/V Conchy back in the spring.)  Brittany Haury is easing through the PADI Instructor Development Course at the Florida Keys Dive Center in Tavernier.  Her Instructor Exams (the scary part) is this weekend.  Best of luck Brittany!!!

The number one medical complaint at the Florida Sea Base is ear discomfort.  Scuba divers, sailors, staff, all complain of ear pain.  I was given permission today to purchase a real-live, wall mounted otoscope.  I am working with our medical advisor to find the right unit at the best cost.  While we do not employ a nurse or MD on premises, we frequently have medical professionals among our participants.  Being able to make a quick assessment of whether a sore ear is just a troublesome outer ear infection or a serious internal barotrauma will help reduce the number of people needlessly sent to the ER.  This piece of equipment will be of great benefit to our participants and staff.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Good morning from the Florida Sea Base.  I tried writing the posts in the evenings for the past week or so and that is not working out very well.  So I am back to the early morning writings – at least for a while.

Prior to 17:00 yesterday Danielle became at Category 1 Hurricane.  During the evening she increased to Cat 2 and she is forecasted to be at Category 3 by 14:00 Wednesday.  Let’s hope she stays to the east of Bermuda.

5 pm Monday

5 am Tuesday

As promised, a new tropical wave has come off the coast of Africa and rapidly made it to Invest 96L designation.  This one is a long way off, but it looks like it may take a very similar course to that of  Hurricane Danielle.  It doesn’t show on this chart, but in the next few days the track lines should show the forecasted path turning more to the north and staying east of Bermuda.

Christy Clemenson and Lindsay Kuc spent most of yesterday cleaning the staff lounge.  My understanding is it may take another day or two to finish the job.  We may not have a staff lounge next year.  The staff members responsible for trashing it are never the ones who clean it.  And the ones who clean it won’t tell me who’s trashing it so I can’t break the cycle.  Capt. Alex and Dave Rumbaugh worked in the scuba area.  Captains Aaron Foster, Steve Harrison and Dutch Vanderlaan worked on securing boats and the sailing beach.  Dom Alesandrini and Teri Wells drove the Scuba Liveaboard crew to Bahia Honda State Park for the day.  The ranger staff worked on moving staff furniture out of the Thomas Building.  The Galley, Ships Store and Commissary staff members were also very busy.  Capt. Rich and I worked on the 2011 budget.  Paul Beal moved the budget due date up from Friday to Thursday.  I may be able to finish the first draft tomorrow if I can get the information I need from our Registrar, Nancy Wells.  ALL of the staff did their best yesterday to help Jan Vanderlaan with a HUGE problem in the snack bar.  Apparently we were overstocked with ice cream.  The staff rolled up their sleeves TWICE yesterday and forced down as much ice cream as possible.  I’m not sure what the final outcome was but I’m sure they will be up to the task again today if needed.

I suspect that most of you are used to linemen climbing the utility poles for servicing and repairs.  Most of the power lines in the Keys are over water.  I got this picture yesterday while on my way to Key West.  How much do you trust YOUR pilot?  PLEASE click on the photo to enlarge it.

Click on photo to enlarge.

Today’s weather should be very similar to yesterday; high in the low 90s, moderate winds and a 30% chance of thunderstorms.  It’s about 05:10. I got up around 04:00.  I think I’ll clean up and go to the office.  That will give me about an hour to work on the budget without interruption.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Good morning from the Florida Sea Base.  We are expecting a high of 91º this afternoon with a heat index of 105º.  The winds will be from the SSW at 12 knots with 2′ seas on the reef.  There is a 30% chance of a thunderstorm.  By 05:00 Tropical Depression 6 had been upgraded to Tropical Storm Danielle.  It is forecasted to be a Category 1 Hurricane by 02:00 tomorrow morning.  The good news is the forecasted track continues to be in our favor with the system turning more to the north.

The final crew of the 2010 summer season has elected to spend their final day at the Bahia Honda State Park.  They visited there two years ago on their first trip to the Florida Sea Base and requested to go back.  Since they are the only crew left at the Florida Sea Base it was easy to accommodate their request.

There are a few straggling staff members packing for the trip home, but the only season employees left on payroll includes Scuba Commissioner Capt. Alex Bergstedt, Marine Superintendent Capt. Carol Chapman, Scuba Instructor Christy Clemenson, Dockmaster Dominic Alesandrini, Galley Mates Maya Mikolova and Lenka Bollonova, Capt. Dennis Wyatt, Office Manager Ellen Wyatt, Assistant Ranger Capt. Martin Ivy, Assistant Ranger Joe Schreiner, Commissary Mate Sara Starr, Capt. Aaron Foster, Eco Adventure Mate Lindsay Kuc, Divemaster David Rumbaugh, Capt. Dutch Vanderlaan, Ships Store Clerks Jan Vanderlaan and Noah Sutter, Capt. Steve Harrison,and Ships Store Manager Maria Donovan.  (Maria is technically still a seasonal employee but will be promoted to the full time staff on 01 September.)  Divemaster Brittany Haury is still on base but off payroll.  She starts her Instructor Development Course tomorrow (I think) and will be a certified Scuba Instructor in less than two weeks if all goes well.

A friend from back home sent this this photo.  It was reportedly taken near Rising Star, Texas on Friday the 13th of August 2010.

I meant to post this earlier today but got caught up with the budget until noon and then I had to make a run to Key West.  I hope you had a good day.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

We are enjoyed yet another beautiful weather day at the Florida Sea Base.  Invest 95L has become Tropical Depression 6 and is forecast to be Tropical Storm Danielle by morning and probably Hurricane Danielle by Monday afternoon/evening.  There is a chance that this one will recurve into the Atlantic and not threaten any land mass.  Hope for the best, but prepare for the worse.  For the Florida Sea Base, this system is of minimal concern at this time.

Today was my day off.  Capt. Alan Robinson of S/V Sinbad was able to get my a/c functional yesterday so I moved out of the scuba dorm and back onto the boat last night.  The unit still has some issues, but it is making cold air.  I am hoping we can get the other bugs worked out, but I think I can get by with it for now.

No new crews arrived at the Florida Sea Base today.  No crews came in for their mid-week day.  No crews returned to the base for their luau.  As a matter of fact, the last sailing crew of the 2010 summer season had their luau last night and are headed home this morning.  We still have one Scuba Liveaboard crew at sea (until Monday) and five Scuba Adventure crews completed their last dive of the week this morning.

Because the remainder of the hurricane season is forecasted to be so active, we are considering having two of the Newton 46′ Dive Specials and the 45′ Corinthian from the Brinton Environmental Center hauled (taken out of the water) and stored in dry dock.  We also plan to remove as many  of the smaller boats (18′ – 28′) as we have trailers for.  The boats are safer out of the water and with the seasonal staff departing it would be a monumental task for those who are remaining to properly secure all of the boats in the event of a hurricane making landfall in our area.

In an attempt to clear out the pantry, refrigerator and freezer as much as possible, we were allowed to have ice cream at lunch today.  It was a rare and welcome treat.  I think the ice cream was left over from the 4th of July celebration.  Even ice cream has an expiration date.  So it was eat it or toss it.  Our staff is proud of it’s “green” attitude.  So we decided it was in the best interest of the environment if we ate it all.  I thought we should ship it to the arctic circle to help replace the melting icebergs.  But I was out voted.

After lunch (and ice cream) I went to the grocery store.  Since I was still full from lunch (including the ice cream) I didn’t buy much.  My plan is to eat as many meals as possible in the Galley while it’s still open.  By the first of the month I will likely be on my own for meals.  Due to the heat inside the boat, cooking is generally limited to cooking and the grill and using the microwave.  I try to avoid using the stove or oven.

I apologize for posting this so late.  Around 19:00 we had a really nasty thunderstorm come through and as soon as that was over I was called out to handle a non-weather related issue.  It’s almost 22:00 and I’m just getting back aboard.  So much for a day off.

I hope you enjoyed your day.  More tomorrow.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape