Thursday October 20, 2005 - The Storm Approaches


Hurricane Reports are that Wilma has weakened a bit and is not a category 4 hurricane but has slowed down a bit and is now aimed directly for Cozumel.
Plans Nothing really changed. Still planning for an all day Friday hurricane.
Expectations Since the storm has slowed down a bit people are expecting to have hurricane conditions for about 24 hours from Thursday early evening through all of Friday. There are still some hopes that we will be able to get out on Saturday.

As we awoke and checked on things we found it was pretty cloudy, the waves were slightly higher, but the rain that had started late Wednesday did not stick around. A quick check of the weather channel showed that the storm was still a strong category 4 and still headed right for us.

The hotel crew had more preparation work to do today. The big stuff was taken care of on Wednesday, but today they took care of all the little things. All the lamp fixtures were removed, all the outdoor outlets were taped over, and the outdoor lights had cute little plastic bags taped over them. Late afternoon they started removing everyones patio furniture or moving it into their rooms. They even cleaned up the coconut trees. There is a 3 PM curfew and before heading home the Scuba Club crew drops off bottled water in everyone's room and leaves some big barrels of water in the hallway to use for flushing the toilets. Only a few staff members remain behind.

The waves started out at about 3 to 4 feet, just slightly heavier than usual. After breakfast few brave souls sat in the hammocks in the morning. Mostly it was just a repeat of Wednesday with more clouds. Lots of sitting around doing basically nothing except for the photographers who were out in force getting their "before" pictures. Again the Weather channel is on in the bar and again we are struck by how little useful coverage there is of the storm. There is a 3 minute commercial break, 1 minute of the weather reporters yammering about things unreleated to the storm, then a quick display of a map of the predicted path, then 5 minutes of coverage about evacuating the Florida Keys. Fortunately the internet connection is still working so we are able to get some useful information from NOAA and other online sources. Shortly after lunch we lose the internet connection so the Weather channel is all we have got, it proves to be very frustrating.

As the day goes on the waves start to pick up.
8 AM - Just splashing against the sea wall a bit. They are about 3-4 feet high.
11 AM - Still just a bit of a splash.
1 PM - Now it's starting to spill over the hammock area and walkway.
4 PM - Most of the waves are not ending up on the far side of the sidewalk. They are about 4-5 feet high with occasional bigger ones that are about 6 feet high.
5 PM - It's picking up a bit now. The bigger waves are starting to really wash over the sidewalk. The bigger ones are about 7 feet high.
6 PM - The bigger waves are coming much more often now.
6 PM - Another at 6 showing the splash from the bigger waves.

Well now it's getting dark. We still have power. We still have running water. Our lunch was excellent, rice and beans and chicken with some great cheese quesidillas, now it's time for dinner, cold chicken with potato salad and a roll. Some decided to microwave their's while we still had power.

As night falls the wind and waves are really picking up. I'll make a wild guess that at 6 PM the winds were about 40-50 kts out at the end of the pier and about 20-25 kts up closer to the hotel. The winds were coming almost directly from the north. Around dark the rain gets started. After a fairly calm day the storm is really starting.

We get a few hours of sleep. I was woken up at about 2 AM by the sound of the storm outside. The wind is howling out of the north, the rain is really coming down, and the waves are thundering into the sea wall. At 2:55 AM we lose power. We notice that our plastic sheet we were hoping would keep water out of our room has failed. We now have a steady flow of water coming in through the door to the balcony. Fortunately it is just flowing right through the room and out the front door into the hallway. Wow is it ever noisy.