Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Anticipation: The Approaching Front, Part 3

Umatilla, FL

Here are some scenes as the front approached and passed the other day.  Look carefully and you'll see that the worst storms missed us.  They  went just north and just south of us, but missed this spot.

Part 3 -- On Land

The experience on land is much less thrilling, but there is the added danger of tornadoes.  For some reason, tornadoes very seldom hit anchored boats.  I have no idea why.

Here in the RV park, there is established procedure.  When a tornado warning or a hurricane warning is issued, the management drives through the park with a wailing siren.  That is the signal for us to seek shelter immediately.  That is slightly old fashioned because now we all have smart phones, and all of the phones in this county went off at 6:03 PM with an emergency tone and a message on screen "SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY".   That's pretty plain language, that you are not likely to ignore.

There are two shelter buildings in this park.  The "Rec Hall" can hold all the residents.  "The Lodge" building is only about 15% as big.  It is designated as the shelter for people with pets.  Both shelters are less than 2 minutes walk from our RV.

We had prepared, for the forecasted 90 mph winds, 1 inch hail, thunder and lightning and floods, by rolling up our awning, closing the windows, and pickking up any loose things in the yard that can blow away. (Just like preparing a boat).   We also made a "ditch kit" that mirrored our "abandon ship ditch kit" from the boat.  The kit had clothes, water, flashlights, medicines, keys, and papers; the stuff we woul need if our RV and car were destroyed.

But there was a big coincidence for this emergency.  There was a musical concert scheduled for the "Rec Hall" and 6:03 PM was exactly the time that people with tickets were leaving to get good seats.  That included us.  We had tickets, but we were debating skipping it.  The tornado warning made up our minds.

We were very lucky.  The Rec Hall was set up with seating for everyone with tickets.  We had snacks and sodas, and beer, and of course a show to watch.   At one point, a second tornado warning sounded.  It was interesting to experience being in a room with 400 phones sounding the emergency tones simultaneously.

Everyone else had to cram into the remaining shelter spaces.  That included the Florida Room and The Lodge, plus corridors, janitor closets, and rest rooms.  My guess is that 50% of the people watching the show occupied 75% of the shelter space, while the other 50% were cramed into the remaining 25%.  I heard that it was standing room only at The Lodge, and very smelly because there were nearly as many wet (and scared) dogs as there were people.  That sounded terrible.  Sorry, but I don't have picutures of that.

But all the storms missed us.  After 40 minutes, the non-show people were allowed to go home.  The rest of us were entertained by talented doo-whah singers.

Rec Hall before the show

The Show
The experience was very very different than on a boat.


  1. Are "Mobile Homes" Tied down in some way "To Concrete Blocks in the Ground?" so they might not blow away in a Tornado situation?? It seems that Mobile Home parks usually get hit the hardest in FL..

    1. Good point. Yes, it is tied down with below ground anchors as you suggest, but only in the 4 corners. That will prevent the steel frame from flying around, but the house itself can blow away easily.

      We have to stay alert on bad weather days and be ready to head for the shelters. That's new for us. I never had to take shelter before.

    2. Why not have easily deployable straps to that can be wrapped around the House and attached to under ground concrete blocks?

    3. Good thinking. I've seen that done, for example with the buildings at the summit of Mount Washington, NH. That works when the structures are strong. But if the structure is weak (think of a stiff tent), then the straps would just cut through. Have you seen the wreckage of an RV that tipped over on the highway? They break into a million small pieces.

  2. Google "Arrowhead Earth Anchors" and see what you come up with. When I worked for Crouse-Hinds Co., this subsidiary in Laconia, NH made arrow-shaped plates with cables that could easily be driven into the ground and rotated to form a solid anchor without soil disturbance above (unlike a screw or a deadman).


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