What to do when a hurricane hits

Veterans who met Bob can recall their experiences

Hurricane Earl becomes Category 4, Fiona close behind

By Walter Brooks

Regular updates of Earl progress.

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On this same week nineteen years ago, Cape Cod was slammed by Hurricane Bob, and our tourism season came to a windy halt several weeks earlier than planned.

Bob was a category 2 while Earl is now a category 4, and my sons and daughter-in-law came back to the Cape to help me board up our eight sliding glass doors facing Pleasant Bay.

After boarding up the house, son Jay was able to lean into the 80 mph winds which increased to 100 later. Note the small slot in the plywood for our "peek hole."

As I write this on Tuesday morning some weather gurus are predicting that Earl may simply brush by Cape Cod 100 or 200 miles off our coast and just give us high surf and rain, but perhaps they haven't told Earl, and hurricane tracking is an inexact science.

One thing you can predict with absolute certainty is that the Boston weather bimbos will make it sound like Armageddon.

How to plan next weekend on Cape Cod

I hate to admit it, but we really enjoyed Bob's visit in 1991.

We cut a couple slots in the sheets of plywood covering our sliders and spent hours watching TV and peering at the winds.

Then the eye passed over us.

I stayed home, but Pat and the kids drove down to Ryder's Cove where they hopped on Peter Mason's boat and sped out into the eye for a look-see.

Maybe they'll all stay home with me this time if Earl cometh.

It doesn't hurt to be prepared and hope for the best, so here are some useful links;

Here are some tales of our past storms....

1991: Hurricane Bob reshapes Cape Cod

The "Shoulder Season" that was reshaped by Bob

 Peter Robbins took the photos above right after Bob stopped blowing.

When travel stories became travel advisories

On this day in 1991, potential visitors to Cape Cod were warned about the after effects of Hurricane Bob which hit the area the previous week.

bob1_400The result was a huge drop in visitors during the so-called fall "shoulder season" since the hurricane hit the Cape the week before Labor Day in 1991.

Coastal communities bore the brunt of the storm, with sustained winds between 83 to 107 mph (172 km/h). Peak wind gusts to 125 mph (201 km/h) were recorded on Cape Cod in the towns of Brewster and Truro. The highest sustained wind of 100 mph (160 km/h), was recorded in North Truro.

Here is the start of a newspaper story that day:


Hurricane Reshapes Cape Cod

As Bob became a hurricane, it began to move to the northeast and accelerated. By August 19, the storm was located 30-35 miles (50-55 km) to the east of Cape Hatteras, and was at its peak intensity of 115 mph (185 km/h). As the storm moved quickly northeast, it began to weaken over the colder waters. Hurricane Bob then made landfall twice on Rhode Island: at 1:30 p.m. on Block Island, then at 2 p.m. over Newport.  The storm cut a path across southeastern Massachusetts and then into the Gulf of Maine.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Bob on Cape Cod, visitors who head down the Mid-Cape Highway this fall will be struck by a dramatically altered landscape. An early fall has struck, with shriveled brown leaves beginning to drift from trees and shrubs -- the result of the fierce, salt-drenched winds.

Along Route 6 in Eastham the scale of the forests seems lower. Many of the fast-growing, shallow-rooted locusts planted in groves 60 or 70 years ago have been uprooted while the frail survivors dangle overhead; groves of oak, maple and pine have been "pruned by nature," as the professionals put it. Many Cape Codders are left with unaccustomed sunlight and a decade's worth of firewood.

Naturalists say that the defoliation will prove to be a boon for birders this fall. "The warblers were starting to leave in mid-August because they had come north early during the warm spring," said Robert Prescott, director of the Massachusetts Audubon Society's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. "But the storm delayed the wave of migrants by a week or so. Now, September should be a fine month for warblers, and, as a benefit to birders, they will be able to see species more easily through the barer branches."

Mr. Prescott leads frequent trips to Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, a wilderness area off the coast of Chatham consisting of two main islands that serve as a major landfall for migratory species.

"Most of the trees will recover in the spring unless heavily saturated with salt," said Susan Lundquist, director of the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster. April Phillips, park ranger for interpretation, Cape Cod National Seashore, said non-native species like locusts and cherry trees fared worst.

1991: Storm waves worse than a hurricane

Storm's Huge Waves Make Hurricane Seem Tame on Massachusetts Coast

Waves breaking over the top of Minot's Light, a 100-foot-tall stone lighthouse off Scituate.

Peter Montgomery knew the storm was bad when he looked out his window Wednesday and saw waves breaking over the top of Minot's Light, a 100-foot-tall stone lighthouse that is a landmark of the Massachusetts coast.

The old gray shingled house where Mr. Montgomery lives, a mile from the lighthouse on a spit of land that juts out into Massachusetts Bay, was also being pounded by the raging northeaster. "Every time a wave hit the building, you could feel it -- va boom! -- the whole house shook," said Mr. Montgomery, a caretaker for a group of summer residents.

Mr. Montgomery and his wife wanted to evacuate, but when he stepped out the back door, a wave came crashing over the top of the three-story building, sending him scurrying back inside. By his calculation, the wave must have been at least 50 feet above the normal high demarcation...

Cape among hardest hit

Parts of Cape Cod were among the hardest-hit areas, especially those facing east and north along the outer Cape from Chatham at the elbow to Provincetown at the tip. "There are some places on the outer Cape where the beach is completely gone," said Tony Bonanno, the chief ranger at the Cape Cod National Seashore. Surprise Lobster Dinner

On Nantucket Island, just south of the Cape, a number of residential areas remained under three to four feet of water today, and several stores were flattened by the pounding waves... NY Times.

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