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Friday August 24, 2012

Hurricane Andrew as remembered by Haardvark

Hurricane Andrew as remembered in Haardvark

I was in high school when Hurricane Andrew hit, 20 years ago today. My family lived in North Miami Beach, and while we were without power for weeks and weeks afterwards and the experience itself was moderately dramatic, we escaped the brunt of the storm. Not so for my friend Ian, who lived way down in South Miami somewhere. Ian was the sort of person who published a zine in high school, and he wrote up his experiences of Andrew in one of the issues. I’ve lost touch with Ian over the years and haven’t been able to find him, or any archives of Haardvark (I have a few issues besides the one with the Andrew story) online in all this time, but I thought this’d be a good time to share at least this piece of it.



Wednesday August 1, 2012

It’s August one. Do you know where your tropical formations are?


Monday July 21, 2008

A front page article in today’s Sun Sentinel pities the poor weather reporters at local TV stations, who have to decide whether to interrupt your programming with hurricane updates or wait for the commercial. Poor babies. You know what? Wait for the frigging commercial. I don’t care how close the storm is to Bermuda. All I care about is is we are actually in a hurricane watch. It’s just not that hard.


Thursday April 10, 2008

Forecasters are predicting the next hurricane season: 15 tropical storms, 8 hurricanes, 4 intense hurricanes. They’re doing it very sheepishly, though, because they know their predictions have been worth squat for years. Meanwhile, other scientists “worry that errors in the long-term predictions will undermine faith in real-time forecasts of actual storms.”


Tuesday December 11, 2007


Nothing in it for us, but look: Tropical Storm Olga, the 15th named storm of the season.


Friday November 30, 2007

The tropical depressions live satellite map has been retired as per due to because of the end of hurricane season. See you next year, map! On a personal note, with the notable exception of Dean, the season was a bit of a let-down. Here’s to a more exiting season next year. (And more rainfall.)


Monday October 29, 2007

cone noel

Dadies and lentlemen, no doubt you will be glad to find yourself back inside the snug cone of possibilities (click for kewl animation). ETA for peak of whatever weather’s coming to us is Wednesday afternoon, but note that I took the bike out a few minutes ago and was able to go a few blocks westward without pedaling, under wind power alone.


Sunday October 28, 2007

Tropical depression 16

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a cone. Tropical depression sixteen, on the verge of becoming a tropical storm. Update: Hope you didn’t get too exited there — the map as of 2pm has it turning Northeast. Upgraded to tropical storm Noel.


Tuesday September 25, 2007

Get that resume together: the National Hurricane Center’s hiring. Position: director.


Tuesday August 28, 2007

Ian's hurricane Andrew journal

Click to read Click for slideshow.

My friend Ian was publishing a sort of zine around the time of Andrew, and in one issue he transcribed his journal from during and after the storm. His house was in the part of town that got hit really hard, and this is about as good an account of what happened that I’ve seen. I held on to it, and the 15th anniversary of the storm seems like a decent time to share. Click the image above to read. I also have high-resolution scans of the cover and inside pages: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. I unfortunately lost contact with Ian (don’t even remember his last name), and if anyone reading knows him, please have him get in touch, at the least to let me know if I can leave this up.


Friday August 24, 2007

Andrew: 15 years ago today.


Monday August 20, 2007

Hurricane Andrew song

Disturbing Force, Back in ’92. Sure, the song is great. But to not lose sight of the message: that we’re all going to die. Also: lyrics about $26 billion in damage and a 5.2 meter storm surge. (via Awesome-ish)


Wednesday August 15, 2007

Dean veering south . . . things looking okay for now, with maybe some serious rain around this time next week.


Monday August 13, 2007


5am Monday


5am Tuesday

A little early, but pleased to meet Tropical depression four, possibly to become Hurricane Dean at some point. Far away, but that curve sure looks like it’s feeling lucky. Update: 5 pm advisory: “The depression is moving quickly toward the west near 20 mph…and This general motion is expected to continue during the next 24 Hours. Maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph…55 km/hr…with higher Gusts. Some strengthening is forecast…and the depression could Become a tropical storm tonight or on tuesday.” Update (8/13, 11pm): Far be it from me to alarm anyone, but the 5pm map and the 11 pm advisory both have this shit edging ever so farther towards a direct line with us. You can now see this sucker in the lower right of the satellite map on CM’s home page.


Tuesday August 7, 2007

“We already received testimony that the White House was very upset with Mr. Proenza raising concerns about the possible loss of the QuikScat satellite before a replacement had been developed.” — Texas congressman Nick Lampson. Proenza is still employed by the NOAA, who’s deciding what to do with him. Lampson and others want him to be made head of National Weather Service’s southern region, which doesn’t sound like such a good idea to me.


Tuesday July 17, 2007

The helpful folks at are always looking out for you. Next up is an alert system that will send you an e-mail, pager alert, or text message (your choice!) in the event of a hurricane or other warning situation. More about your choice: English, Spanish, or Creole! Kindly direct yourself to this only slightly user-hostile page if you’re interested.



Nice try boys, but South Florida doesn’t have earthquakes. And yes, it is possible to build a hurricane-proof building. The company my dad worked for had a data processing center right in the eye’s path during Andrew, and they went about their business like nothing happened; didn’t loose power for even a second.



“Our preliminary work seems to indicate that Mr. Proenza is another victim of retaliation by the administration for speaking out on issues that Congress and the American people need to hear.” — Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich. Now come hearings in congress over Proenza’s removal.


Wednesday July 11, 2007

“The National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center is devoted to and fully capable of delivering to the nation its hurricane warning program.” — Bill Proenza interviewed by Martin Merzer. (Catch the subtle dig against NOAA in the quote?) [Comments go here.]


Tuesday July 10, 2007

Maybe Ed Rappaport, the new interim director of the NHC, can get his hands on some solvent and UNSTICK THE CENTER’S CAPS LOCK KEY.


Monday July 9, 2007

What's up with Bill Proenza?

Bill Proenza I’ve worked in a government bureaucracy, and I’ve seen people lose their jobs when they publicly said stuff that made their bosses uncomfortable, so when the shit started to fly around Bill Proenza last month, I was the first to support him. Well, new shit has come to light. SotP has been following the story (and has been consistent about sticking up for Proenza, and scathing toward his critics). Not only have more then half of the staff of the National Hurricane Center that Proenza heads signed a petition against him, but it seems that the scrutiny from above came at their urging as well. I think it’s time to give this guy a closer look, not just blindly defend him.

There are two possible scenarios here: (1) Bill Proenza is all about the integrity — he puts the public’s interests first, and is not afraid to tell it like it is, even if it pisses off those around him. (2) Bill Proenza is an asshole who has pissed off those above him by grandstanding and those below him by not focusing on the job at hand, and by making their lives miserable.

Well, the main thing that Proenza has been outspoken about is QuikSCAT, claiming that if the satellite dies, “two-day forecasts would suffer by 10 percent and three-day forecasts by 16 percent.” It turns out that this claim is based on a a mis-reading of some unpublished research. Jeff Masters tracked down the same research, and de-bunks some of the errors of Proenza’s reasoning. The study looked primarily at hurricanes out at sea (when hurricanes are within 72 hours of landfall, superior information is obtained by the Hurricane Hunters). The study only used one weather model; hurricane predictions use at least five. Masters cites a much more thorough study that found “no meaningful impact of QuikSCAT data on tropical cyclone forecasts.” In other words, Proenza’s 10/16% claim is bullshit.

Let’s look more closely at the voices from inside the National Hurricane Center that have turned against Proenza. Keep in mind that this guy has been on the job for a few months, while many of the senior staff have been there decades. 23 out of 49 employees (including all the senior staff) signed a petition [PDF] calling for his removal (some others didn’t sign because they were not around). Their wording is careful, but the underlying subtext is clear: “This guy has made working here difficult. The public is not served well when our job is more difficult then it needs to be.” Calling these people cowards is obstinate — they have nothing to gain from taking a public stand against their boss. In fact, insofar as his removal is uncertain at this point, they have much to lose.

The director of an agency doesn’t do the work there — he does some management, but mainly he’s the public face of the agency. The staff do the work. Well, the staff held a press conference Friday, and Masters has a transcript. It’s worth reading in its entirety, but here’s a quote from Senior Hurricane Specialist James Franklin:

When things are really happening, we’ve got a Katrina out there or a Rita type of storms, everybody needs to stop what they’re doing and pull together and make sure our message gets out and that we’re doing the best job that we can to make the best forecast. We’ve got a lot of people pulling together to do that. That takes a certain amount of teamwork and appreciation of sense of family and he’s destroying that, he’s destroying that.

The others add a lot more specifics. I think the conclusion here is clear — Proenza is an asshole, and he’s difficult to work with. He’s wrong about QuikSCAT, but the real problem is that he’s making the situation inside the NHC difficult for the people actually doing the job of predicting the hurricanes. Those are the people we should be sticking up for, no the guy who flies around the country making wild public statements. Some of Proenza’s claims about his superiors’ priorities are probably well founded, but his job is to run the Hurricane Center, and if everyone who works there hates him enough to publicly say so, then it’s absurd not to listen. It’s absurd to accuse them of playing politics; these are scientists and they want what everybody with a serious job wants: to do a good job.

So… is Proenza going to step down? Well, Margie Kieper rounded up the news yesterday, and it seems to indicate that he will (she also has some visual demonstrations of QuikSCAT imagery, compared to imagery from other satellites). Let’s hope we get someone else in there soon enough to get the ship together before we get hit with the first storm of the season.

Update [6:25 pm]: For better or worse, Proenza’s out. Everything else aside, the way NOAA handled this stinks. “Anson Franklin, a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration . . . would not say whether Proenza was ordered to take leave or voluntarily left the agency. He said Proenza is still a NOAA employee, but he would not provide details about Proenza’s status, citing privacy laws.” What a crock.


Thursday July 5, 2007

South Beach Community Hospital

South Beach Community Hospital, photographed last week.


Monday June 18, 2007

Bill Proenza gets reprimanded

Bill Proenza Anyone who’s ever worked in the higher levels of any government organization (which, improbably, I have) will particularly appreciate this: Let’s say you’re the head of your own office. The boss you report to is off-site — in another state, actually. One Friday morning she drops by your office, and very cordially (these things are always cordial) hands you a three-page memo of reprimand [pdf]. What do you do?

Well, if you’re Bill Proenza, director of the National Hurricane Center, you call the goddamned press, that’s what you do. You tell them your bosses are being assholes, and no, you do not shut the fuck up (Bill has reputedly criticized budget appropriations that have endangered weather satellites and has generally had the nerve to be honest about predictions). I could kiss this guy. Oh, and NOAA? Get off Bill’s back. And send him the money he needs for some new equipment. There’s people down here counting on it.


Monday June 4, 2007

Get ready for hurricane season 2007

hurricane tracking chart Hurricane season began Friday, and goes through the end of November. No worries, though — this chart has things staying at a low simmer until around August, and peak of the season is in early September. But the beginning of June is important conceptually, because it’s a good time to at least start thinking about the storms. This survey found that more then half the people living in hurricane strike-zones don’t feel vulnerable, and haven’t done anything to prepare.

Well, as someone who lived through Andrew, I can safely (har!) tell you that you are vulnerable. And on the other hand: relax, people. It’s not the end of the world. Your chances of dying are vanishingly small, especially if you’re not a knucklehead who decided to go for a drive during a storm. Your property damage is covered by insurance. For the most part, hurricane season consists of watching storms whiz through the Atlantic, betting on who they’ll hit and when. When one comes close it generates a lot more in exited preparation, days off from work, and hurricane-party intoxication then it does in actual violence. Chill out, people — hurricane season is fun.

Having said that, I do recommend getting into the hurricane frame of mind. Here’s a hurricane crib-sheet to catch you up on the physics of a storm. Here’s the Red Cross hurricane preparedness style guide. Here’s NOAA’s think-piece about harvesting the energy of hurricanes. Oh, and click the retro-chic hurricane tracking map above for NOAA’s home page, with your daily official predictions. But don’t sweat it. If you want, get yourself some plywood or shutters if you don’t have them already (you don’t want to be one of those fools on TV standing in a Home Depot line for three hours and then going home empty-handed, now do you?). Pick up some basic supplies. And keep a stray eye on the news. For your convenience, I added live satellite imagery to the sidebar. Now hurry up and relax.


Wednesday May 23, 2007

Here come the hurricanes, 2007

2007 Atlantic Hurricane Outlook - 3 to 5 major hurricanes, 75% chance of above-normal season So you thought the rate at which housing prices are falling was slowing down? Well, here’s just what the doctor ordered to keep it moving along: a nice and busy hurricane season. The NOOA’s official hurricane predictions are out, and here’s the scoop: 75% chance of an above-average hurricane season, 13 to 17 named storms and 7 to 10 hurricanes, 3 to 5 of which will be major.

I just heard Al Roker say there’s a 100% chance of landfall of at least one hurricane, which is of course stupid. He was misquoting from the full report, which actually says:

While NOAA does not make an official seasonal hurricane landfall forecast, the historical probability for multiple hurricane strikes in the United States increases sharply for hyperactive seasons. For the U.S., all hyperactive seasons since 1950 have had at least one hurricane strike, 92% have had at least 2 hurricane strikes, and 58% have had at least 3 hurricane strikes. For the eastern seaboard of the United States, 92% of hyperactive seasons have had at least one hurricane strike, and 42% have had at least two hurricane strikes. For the Gulf Coast region of the United States, 83% of hyperactive seasons have had at least one hurricane strike, and 58% have had at least two hurricane strikes.

(Click the links if yr be enjoying bar graphs of doomz and destruction! (Note to NOOA: Blind people care about hurricanes too. Please to be making your graphs accessible in the futur.)) I’ll say this again for the skeptics: we’re in the middle of a 10-year run of strong hurricane seasons. Last year El Niño came along and unexpectedly bailed us out. No such luck this year. In fact, there is a chance of La Niña forming, and La Niña actually makes hurricane seasons worse (not joking), so the above predictions could turn out to be low. Good times.

Here’s my favorite bit: NOOA calculates something called the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index: “The ACE index is a wind energy index, defined as the sum of the squares of the maximum sustained surface wind speed (knots) measured every six hours for all named systems while they are at least tropical storm strength.” Got that? Well, for 2007, the ACE index is predicted at 125% to 210% of the median. In other words, brace yourselves kids.


Thursday February 8, 2007

Citizens Property Insurance is being class-action sued because supposedly they are required to replace hurricane-damaged windows with high-impact glass. Here’s an anti-Citizens homeowners’ group.


Tuesday January 2, 2007

Meterological question: The Gulf Stream only happens in some years. It’s happening right now, and which is why the hurricane season was so uneventful. But is that also why the winter so far has been so warm? Update: I completely bungled this question — I got my El Niño confused with my Gulf Stream. See comments for more information, and the answer.


Monday September 11, 2006

El Niño might signal end of hurricane season. Could also be accounting for why the hurricane season has been pretty unimpressive this year; something to do with cross-winds shearing and sort of tearing storms apart as they try to form. Confusing, and apparently the formation of El Niño right now is sort of a freak occurrence, so maybe back to 2005-type storm season next year. (thanks, Skip)


Monday September 4, 2006

tropical depression six heading in the suspicious direction of florida

Say wha?


Thursday August 31, 2006

Pictures of a dud storm


Well, I finally made up with flickr (and ponied up my $25), and just in time to upload a few pictures from the last three days: before and after Tropical Storm Ernesto, a big fat dud, and the very thing we shall point to to explain why people didn’t bother getting properly ready for the next one, which might take us all out. Enjoy; regular bloggigng resumes next week (or not).


Tuesday August 29, 2006

Hurricane reading

Well, Ernesto predictions weakened to a tropical storm for S. Fla. yesterday, but could expand to a hurricane, so I’m off to make some preparations at the parents’ house and at work.

Hurricane related bloggage at Eye of the Storm, Stuck on the Plametto, Klotz, Miami Vision Blogarama, Hidden City, Babalú. Also some NY Times love (“South Floridians began hoarding gasoline and other emergency supplies . . .”).

Also, the 5 am watch/warning cone and the 8 am advisory at NHC. More news from them at 11.


Monday August 28, 2006

The Critical Miami guide to hurricane shopping

food is delicious

It’s insane out there. I just got back from Publix, where the parking lot was choked up, more cars were coming in then leaving, and people were either at each other’s throats or being creepily nice (the guy in front of me offered me nuts he was munching on). I only went to get some fun stuff, thinking it’d be empty, but of course I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Anyway, y’all need to relax. It’s a hurricane. You’re going to live. Stop shopping like it’s the end of civilization, and buy stuff that’ll help you have fun during and after the storm. From the picture above, and in no particular order:

  1. Whole wheat pita and beans: I had a batch of Miami Hummus in the fridge, so I decided to add some beans, garlic, and oil to it to bulk it up. This, plus the pita, is a decent staple. Unrefrigerated hummus will keep for a few days.
  2. Juice: I normally buy juices and mix them with seltzer. If the power’s out water will work, since room temperature seltzer is kind of nasty. Like Rebecca says, though, just fill up some pitchers before the storm, and you’ll have plenty of water (plus if you haven’t bought it by now it’s too late anyway).
  3. Booze: I’ve opted for a couple of bottles of Shiraz and a big bottle of Bushmill’s. Both work great at room temperature.
  4. Extra sharp chedar: You want to be sticking with the hard cheeses—anything soft will spoil (ever tried eating brie that’s been out overnight? Yikes!). Plus, it goes great with the wine.
  5. Tomatoes: I got the delicious ones on the vine. Any veggies that can be eaten raw would work, though.
  6. Yuca: I might feel motivated enough to cook this up tomorrow morning, and do up some olive oil and garlic to go with it.
  7. Coconut, avocado: more fun stuff from the produce isle. Cracking open and eating a coconut sort of makes anything feel like a celebration.
  8. Candles: I’m required by the Responsible Blogging Act of 2003 to tell you to use a flashlight, because you will burn down your home if you light a candle during a storm. But for myself, I rather like the candles. Plus reading by flashlight is a little jr-high for me. All the good hurricane candles in tall jars were gone, of course, and I can’t abide scented. Luckily I found these awesome Kosher candles. 72 to a box!

That’s it; there’s plenty of other stuff in the house. Plust, last year I didn’t even loose power. Bonus tip: if you have a hand-basket, you can pile as much stuff as you want in it, and they’ll let you slide at the express lane, regardless of how many items it is. How’s everyone else’s day going?



You know, there's really something sort of comforting about . . .

that's all, folks!

Ahh, it’s moments like this, when even the Herald is shitting it’s pants, that really get me going. Some helpful links:

I’ve got the day off from work today, baby, so prepare for more hard-hitting hurricane-preparation coverage! Watch this space! Read my blog! Prepare for impact!

Update (Monday, 1:14am): OK, fine, here’s a “responsible” link: Rebecca’s hurricane preparedness tips. Don’t worry be happy.


Sunday August 27, 2006

south florida in ernesto's orange cone!

Sure hope you wern’t planning on buying any plywood, water, or batteries today! Update: The 5 pm update brings us ever so deeper into Ernesto’s cone of possibilities. Update: I’m sure it’s nothing: Evacuation of tourists ordered in Florida Keys.


Friday August 25, 2006

Tropical storm probabilities show south florida in the outer cone

Ladies and gents, I give you Tropical Depression Five He doesn’t look like much, but by the time you read this his name might be ‘Ernesto.’ Didn’t I just say things were going to get dicey? Ok, this one doesn’t look so tough. But what about the next one? This would be a good time to grab a NHC RSS feed.


Tuesday August 22, 2006

Let’s not get too comfortable, kids: Atlantic hurricanes could rev up any time. Take ‘ol Andrew, back in 1992. That was the first hurricane of hurricane in that year, and it hit on August 24th. The peak of hurricane season is about the three weeks before and after September 10th. “There’s absolutely nothing that I know of that is unfavorable (to hurricane development) in the eastern Atlantic,” said Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center.


Monday July 31, 2006

The heart of the hurricane season is about to begin. And meteorologists still expect it to be a powerhouse, unless El Niño rides to an unexpected rescue. Get ready, y’all! (via Pulp)


Monday July 3, 2006


A nifty, and hair-raising, animation of the 5 hurricane categories. How much for a hotel room in Atlanta until the end of hurricane season? (via hiddencity)


Sunday June 11, 2006

alberto tropical force probability graph includes south florida

Alberto doesn’t look like much, but it’s good to see that we’ll have hurricanes to kick around again.


Friday June 9, 2006

DeFede riffs on hurricanes. “To me, the thing that makes a hurricane special in South Florida is that sense of panic that washes over the community when a hurricane is about a day away.” For the life of me, I can’t seem to be able to embed these videos here, though.


Wednesday May 24, 2006

A nice flash presentation on the anatomy of a hurricane.