I never thought hurricanes would feel so hot. The air outside is steaming, dripping, still, stagnant. The water vapor in the air makes the horizon hazy grey.
The world feels like it’s waiting. Holding it’s breath.
After living outside for the past nine months, we can feel the weather change in our bodies. Light, dry air signals a high pressure and happy times ahead, while slick, heavy air signals a low barometric pressure shift that means rain and storms. My skin is slick as an eel.
Cyclone Ian is bearing own on us. He arrives in less than 24 hours, after taunting Tonga for the past three weeks. It started as a low over Wallis and Fortuna to our north, and just sat there. Menacingly. Eventually, it started spinning clockwise and turned into a tropical depression, the forebearer to cyclones (otherwise known as hurricanes).
About 5 days ago, Ian turned into a named cyclone and was predicted to hit Tonga on Tuesday. But it veered away, circling south of us. Whew! we said, complacently. Dodged that one!
Ha! said Ian. Watch this, suckers.
Since cyclones go wherever the hell they want, he turned north again, sucking more power from the warmer equatorial waters in preparation to REALLY wallop Tonga on his second pass. Ian is about to hook south again, and appears on a direct warpath for Vava’u, the middle island group of Tonga where Rob and I currently live.
It appears to be a Category IV right now, which means we should see gusts up to 125 knots (140 mph) by tomorrow afternoon, along with enough rain to drown chickens.
We spent yesterday evening and this morning securing Waking Dream, the sailboat we’ve been living on for 3 months. She’s lashed to concrete blocks with extra chain and anchors on the bottom. And she’s totally stripped on deck, with sails, dodgers, and any potential flying debris stowed away. We brought our favorite possessions (and passports!) to shore on Fetoko Island, where we’ll weather the storm with Ben and Lisa in their concrete bunker (built specifically for cyclones like this).
Now, while the water vapor accumulates and the winds start to pick up, we’re tying down the roof, beaching the motorboats, and trying to secure anything that might break, float or fly away. By tonight, we’ll be hanging out in the bunker with cards, musical instruments, and plenty of food, prepared to wait out Ian’s wrath for the next day or two.
While we’re under cover, you can track Cyclone Ian here, at the U.S. Navy’s handy weather mapping site. Also, check out this awesome Earth Map image of the cyclone spinning in action.