A Wet, Wild Night in Savannah Intercepting Tropical Storm Fay
Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2008 at 5:00 PM MST
SAVANNAH, GA -- The day started in Washington, DC, as Jake and I started our second day of the drive down to Florida. There was not a cloud in the sky as we got off the Capital Beltway and headed south into Virginia.
About 800 miles to the south, Tropical Storm Fay, which had made landfall near Fort Myers, FL two days earlier, had just popped out into the Atlantic Ocean off of Daytona Beach, moving ever so slowly to the north and east.
With a massive high pressure system sitting over the Mid-Atlantic, Fay had no choice but to be pushed back to the west, right back over northeast Florida. Our plan was to pull up near Savannah, GA and wait for the storm to clear out.
Clouds increased as we meandered our way south through Virginia and North Carolina, and the sky was completely overcast by the time we crossed into South Carolina. As we passed the junction of Interstate 26 (the road to Charleston), the skies looked mighty ominous as we headed for the Georgia border.
We stopped and fueled in southern South Carolina ($3.41 a gallon!) and I took back over behind the wheel. In a matter of minutes after getting back onto I-95, the rain started. The rain came and went, in heavy bursts, all the way down to Savannah. We checked into a hotel right off of I-95 (Exit 94), got a quick bite to eat at the Cracker Barrel next door, and hunkered down for the night.
Despite the fact that my bed was right next to the rather noisy air conditioner, I was awakened around 1:15 AM by the weather. Fay's outer bands were coming ashore….right in Savannah where we were.
I opened the blinds and looked out. It was raining so hard you could hardly see the parking lot below (we were on the second floor). The sound of the rain being blown against the glass was almost deafening.
I looked over at the line of palm trees both under the window and next to the hotel next to us. They were all dancing around like they were ready to fly away. The parking lot now looked like a lake. Water was just getting blown everywhere.
I flipped open my computer and took a look at the weather. The wind was blowing a steady 45 mph in the band, with gusts to 65 mph. While there was not much lightning, we were under a tornado watch, and the county just to our north was under a tornado warning.
They did have a couple of reported tornadoes to the north and west of the I-95/I-16 junction (we were south and east of it), but we saw little other than heavy wind and heavy rain.
Just as quickly as the band came, it left, leaving just a normal overcast night, with minimal winds. As the storm came through Friday, it was wild in the bands, but just a normal overcast, rainy day outside of them.
Throughout the day Friday, we got bands like this coming through all day. The first one was definitely the most powerful and intense. On Saturday, we finally got back on the road and were able to head into Florida. Many streets were still flooded and there were lakes by the side of both I-95 and I-4.
Back in St. Petersburg now, focus can shift back towards severe thunderstorms, but we must always be aware of what's a-brewing down in the Caribbean.
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