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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Key West…The Storm!!!

March 06, 2014
Thursday morning was a normal day in Key West. I started early with my power bike ride around the island. It was an uneventful ride, with the only exception that I didn’t take a break at the five mark for water. I wanted to push and get probably one of the last workouts in Key West this winter. I was back at the camper at 8:45am. Helen wasn’t even gone to her Yoga class.
Shelf Cloud in Key West
Photo by others
Ironically, I didn’t even have a subject or theme to write about on the blog. I just milled around most of the morning reading the literature I had picked up on the National Parks that we would be visiting next month in Utah.
After lunch, we noticed that it was getting exceptionally hot even in the shade. Around one o’clock, a neighbor came over to say that a Tornado watch ( I emphasize Watch) I turned on the laptop and checked out the radar maps. “Ah”, I said to my self, “the storms are well to our North” and with the wind coming out of the South, I assumed that we were in no danger. At 2:15pm, another neighbor came by along with Marcia, the camp host, to emphasize that we would get hit with severe wind and rain in about 45 minutes. I went online again and this time a good portion of the Gulf of Mexico was in yellow and a leading edge of red. It was drifting south towards us! Now was the time to act! We picked up the canopy, the floor mat and all loose stuff around the camper. Glancing over to the Northwest, we could now see an ominous black cloud off in a distance. The wind went from nothing to 15 to 20 knots. All of a sudden, I was thinking that putting the camper back on the truck might not be a bad idea. I powered up the four electric jacks and moved the truck into position. It was nearly a record breaking time for loading the camper onboard! I secured the hold downs and then lowered the jacks to the ground. I figured that the whole rig made for a 5 ton package. It was the best and only thing I could do. I asked Marcia if a Tornado did come by, what was the assembly point or shelter we should go to? She said, “I think the concrete block restroom building was the best and safest place to weather the storm”. At this time, our neighbor to our left and I started to help our other neighbors who were not home. We picked up chairs, flower pots, tables and just about anything that could fly away. In reading what to do in an event of a Tornado, the commentary emphasized that flying objects were the greatest hazards to one safety.
The wind and now rain were upon us. Nearly instantly, it was pouring! The limestone ground doesn’t absorb very much water and soon the water puddles were becoming small lakes. The camper was rock steady! We could actually keep the back door open and watch it come down from the opposite direction. At least, we could do this until the water volume on the roof was such that it started flowing towards the back door area. Fortunately, even with a driving rain we had absolutely no leaks in the camper. It rained from around 3pm to 7pm. That is just how long the tornado warning was posted for. We personally survived the storm without any damage. About a dozen RV’ers did have their canopies ripped and some minor damage to other camping accessories.
That is what we did and saw!

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