We had our first bona fide Tropical Storm watch this week. We have been in the Caribbean for tropical depressions and even the start of tropical storms, but we haven’t been here to wait one out before.
Our neighbour alerted us to some activity off the coast of Africa. After a couple of days, the projections were putting us right at the heart of its trajectory.
We had replenished our hurricane supplies in June, the start of hurricane season, but immediately went to the checklist to see what needed topping up. I filled up some more water bottles, added some items to the shopping list and on Monday my husband went to the store. I am still not very mobile, limping around on a post op shoe and one good foot.
The word came in that we should close up the shutters and to expect the storm to hit during the night. It was still Invest 97L and looking very disorganized. Most of the neighbours complied with the suggestion to close the shutters. We spent the evening watching weather forecasts and doing the work of closing the shutters. Well, my husband closed them. I ended up cooking a meal for the first time since my surgery.
Elsewhere on the island, word had spread and people started shopping. The grocery stores were a mad scene. A friend posted a photo and it looked like Walmart on the last Saturday before Christmas.
The night came and the storm was moving ever so slowly. We had some thunder and rain, but not much more than usual.
Tuesday morning, we were advised that the storm would reach us later in the morning or in the afternoon. It was likely to be upgraded to a tropical storm, hence the “tropical storm watch” being issued. We took further precautions. I got the candles and matches out. I did everything I needed to do that required electricity. I settled in to read, do puzzles and wait. I took the occasional video of the sea. I took photos every hour. We waited and waited some more.Tropical storm Earl was on the way.
By late afternoon, the storm watch was lifted. Although Jamaica was hammered with rain, the storm didn’t gain strength until passing through and back over water. The course shifted, slightly to the south of us. The more we watched and waited, the more it shifted and strengthened. We were no longer in the path, but just north, out of harm’s way. The storm was moving very slowly by this time.
What weather did we get here? We had a little rain shower and some rough seas. We left the shutters closed overnight “just in case” and continued to go out through our one unprotected door occasionally to see if there was anything. We at least expected dark skies to the south. The signs of a storm in the south came after nightfall, so we could see incredible flashes of lightning at very infrequent intervals.
Yesterday we opened our shutters. When we drove to George Town, we noticed standing water near the dump, indicating that they had more rain there than we did at our place.
Right now it’s very windy with rough seas. We’ll probably get a thunder storm and it will probably be scarier than anything Earl threw at us. Earl became a hurricane, but once he hit land in Belize he quickly lost power and was downgraded to a tropical storm again.
As everyone said on the weather reports, that was a practice run for us. I think we feel as prepared as we can if something more ominous comes our way!