Saturday, August 30, 2008

This does not look good...

OK, who was the jerk that taunted Gustav? In less than a day and a half he goes from a strong TS or weak cat 1 to CAT FREAKING 4? His eye is over Cuba, and here in the Tampa Bay area we've been having some fairly nasty thunderstorms that look (on satellite) like they're connected to Gustav.

He's big, he's mean, he's strong and his predicted path takes him directly over the Loop current, the warmest water in the Gulf.

He's headed for LA, but if you're anywhere "in the cone" on the northern Gulf coast, pack your stuff up and get the hell out of there. Get to higher ground. Now.

He could easily be a cat 5 when he lands on Monday.

This will not be pretty. Take care of yourselves up there.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fay is coming!

Man the battle stations! Pack your rations! Cover the computers and thermal cycler! Put the -80 on the generator!

Yesterday was a fun one at ye olde lab. We had that storm coming up through the Keys, and with that angle of approach, there was no telling where she might finally land, so we had to prepare. Everything in the lab was unplugged (aside from the fridges and freezers, which we made sure were on the generator circuit), computers and stuff were covered and we got the email that the building would be closed Tuesday (today).

The eye of Fay, such as it was, crossed over Key West about 3 pm on Monday, and that's about the time that the Pinellas county emergency folks decided that a zone A evacuation was in order, starting at 6AM Tuesday. For those of you from outside of Florida, zone A is the low lying and waterfront areas, mostly populated by idiots who forgot that Florida gets flooded in hurricanes. Being a classic example of said idiots, I live close to the water.

Fortunately, I had an admittedly rather amorphous plan. Some easy foodstuffs were shoved into the backpack (essentials only: tuna, mustard and rum), the truck was loaded with he firebox full of the essential papers, and a box with the treasured stuff like pictures, the SO's jewelry and stuff like that. Then we watched some Olympics and the Weather channel and went to bed ready to fly. We didn't really think that this storm would amount to anything much, so we thought of this as a "dry run".

We weren't wrong.

Got up at 6 today, checked the NHC's 5am forecast... Fay had turned a bit and was already about to make landfall way south of us. Cool! I called the SO's work hotline and she didn't have to go in, so I didn't wake her. I checked the Pinellas emergency folks and found that the evac order was lifted. Sweet! Stormy day off! (I love those, they're great for reading.) I still had to check in on the lab, but not until later, so I went back to bed.

Eventually, I drag my butt out of bed (thanks to the neighbor who needed a jump start) and after some coffee, I figure I should get the lab check and the BioLog reading out of the way before the really nasty stuff hits. So I do.

The place is all but deserted. Only a few essential personnel are there. I do my thing, plug in my computer, check my email, shut the computer down, unplug it and leave. Before the nasty stuff hits.

The nasty stuff never hit.

Ah, well. I guess it's good to be prepared, but I would have liked at least some rain.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Suburban Wildlife 4



This rather intimidating hymenopteran is a female Eastern Cicada Killer, confirmed by Dr. Charles Holiday of Lafayette. His Cicada killer page is here, and I was able to help him in some small way with his research by sending him the above image and the location that I took the image (my back porch). This "little" lady is about 2" long, and despite her intimidating size, was perfectly passive when I got close to take the picture and was only slightly aggressive when I caught her in a cup to set her free from the screened porch.

As usual, click for a big version.