Not that this is all that groundbreaking, but with Frances heading straight for Central Florida, it's interesting to see how Walt Disney World is preparing for the possible/probable onslaught of another hurricane:
(Monitoring Storm Possible)
Review current plan, checklists and business recovery plans. Review personnel and resource availability for the ride-out crew. Verify contact numbers and emergency data. Prepare WDW Emergency Operations Center for activation.
(Storm likely within 24–36 hrs)
General readiness imposed. Brief personnel. Review checklists. Consider possible shut down of long lead operations and not starting extended operations. Limited activation and staffing of WDW Emergency Operations Center.
(Storm probable within 12–24 hrs)
Intensify clean up and tie down. Prepare for phase 2 activity. Selected ride-out crew personnel given the opportunity to secure their personal property. Turn in excess radios and vehicles. WDW Emergency Operations Center opens and is fully staffed. Note: Generally this is when the WDW Emergency Operations Center, command centers, and command posts will be fully activated. However, this is an Executive Policy Team decision.
Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney MGM Studios, Animal Kingdom and Downtown Disney close. Guest campground trailers removed and secured by the guests. Scheduled hotel and campground guests notified of conditions. Complete all clean up and tie down short of shutdown. Authorized ride-out families move to pre-designated shelters. Ride-out crew fully staffed at start of phase 1 or as directed by the WDW Emergency Operations Center. Personnel not in ride-out crew released as soon as possible.
(Storm imminent, take shelter)
Shutdown all activities and immediately take shelter. Fulfill ride-out requirement plans.
Post Storm Phase
Command Centers submit situation reports to WDW Emergency Operations Center. Establish business resumption / recovery schedule. Notify employees through media and cast Member emergency lines of call back as directed by WDW Emergency Operations Center.
It's staggering to consider just how much stuff needs to be secured in a resort like Walt Disney World. All those benches, umbrellas, queue stanchions need to come in or be tied down. Watercraft need to be docked in shelter or stored. Decorative signage needs to come down. All the while the people doing that have to arrange to do the same sort of thing for their personal homes.
So here's a round of applause for the hourly cast members who get the job done.
Get ready. TPI members are invited to post their experiences here, and to e-mail photos to me via firstname.lastname@example.org.
One interesting thing to note is many windows have a protective film designed to protect against hurricane force winds, however someone decided to tape the windows anyway. Taking the tape off also took off the film, leaving ugly Xs on the windows. One example of this are the doors of the Tomorrowland Arcade facing the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway.
Think of all those trash cans that have to come indoors too!
The storm has weakened considerably over the past two days, from maximum sustained winds of 145 mph to about 105. The storm is simply too large to sustain category 4 or above strength. But if it parks itself over the Gulf Stream, and an upper-atmophere wind shear dissipates, it could strengthen before hitting the coast.
I've kept to my apartment in Tampa for this weekend--gusts are coming and going outside and rainbands are passing through. I'll post updates as time and power warrents.
The theme park drainage systems should be able to handle it, but much of the city still has debris from Charley lying around which has the potential to clog storm drains. If this happens, major flooding could result.
As of 1:30p ET we've seen our first outerband squall. It wasn't terrifically strong, but we all know it's gonna get a lot worse. As long as I have power and internet access, I'll try and give updates through out the day.
I live in Pinellas County, and the wind is just now starting to blow. Schools were cancelled yesterday and we're all going stir-crazy. I just wish it would hurry up and quit stalling.
At last report around 300,000 people/businesses are without power. That number is expected to rise dramatically if/when the storm begins to move inland. I believe Disney is on Progress Engergy and Universal is on Orlando Power. I'm not sure about Sea World, they may also be on Orlando Power as well or Possibly Florida Power.
The lights just flickered, so I'd better get off the computer now in case it goes out. If I can, I'll let you know what's happening around the theme park area later tonight. (current time is: 7:10p ET)
The extremely slow speed of the 'cane has it sitting just off the east coast. Although it falls in category 2 (105 mph winds)--a vast improvement from the category 5 stance earlier this week--the sheer size of the storm means central Florida/Polk County will be feeling the winds by the time the monster makes landfall.
Wind and sprinkling rain has fallen here in Tampa, but nothing major thus far, although Frances may not even be anywhere near the bay area until Sunday night/Monday morning.
On a personal note, the latest track takes the storm right through my hometown, Mulberry. There may not be a home left to go to after this.
Why'd this thing have to ruin our Labor Dabor Weekend?
The latest reports say that we still haven't seen the worst of it, but thus far, west Orange County is getting through this relatively painlessly. Power has fluctated all night long, right now (obviously) it's on. At first light, I can't see any downed trees, which is also good. Let's keep our fingers' crossed or keep praying (or both).
(current time: Sun, 7:05a ET)
Walt Disney World will open the following resorts on Monday, September 6th:
- Magic Kingdom 10am-8:30pm
- Epcot 10am-9pm
- Typhoon Lagoon 10a-6pm
- Downtown Disney 10am-11pm
- Wide World of Sports Complex open for events
- Animal Kingdom closed
- MGM Studios closed
- Blizzard Beach closed
- Pleasure Island closed
- Walt Disnesy World Resort will return to normal operations in all areas Tuesday, September 7th.
Sunken Gardens closed Sunday.
MOSI closed Sunday.
Florida Aquarium is closed.
All Walt Disney World Resort hotels would remain open throughout the storm.
Busch Gardens of Tampa Bay and Adventure Island will be closed Sunday and Monday.
Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios and Universal CityWalk in Orlando closed Sunday.
If you're wondering why I haven't written any updates recently, we've been without phone/DSL all night. We just got DSL service back, but the World Wide Web is still unavailable. So here's an update if you'd like to post it:
The winds and rain continued all night long. Frances stalled last night, just before reaching the gulf coast, and then started drifting north, dragging a lot of wind and rain back inland. Universal and Sea World are just far enough further East that they likely only caught the edges of the storm bands that were rotating north. However, WDW was right in the thick of it last night.
As of right now, the rain is still falling and we're stilling getting sporadic, strong wind gusts. All theme parks are open except for Sea World which will be opening at noon. With the instability in the atmosphere, outdoor rides will likely be up and down all day long. And if the inhospitable weather continues, I wouldn't be surprised if the parks end up closing early. Unfortunately, this is definately not the ideal Labor Day weather for visiting theme parks.
There is also a voluntary curfew requested by the local police and sherriff's departments. This is due to the slick roads and unpredictable winds, but more importantly by the lack of gasoline in the area. They're asking anyone who does not have to drive to stay at home to conserve as much gasoling as possible for the next several days.
Power continues to fluctuate and we lost our phone service last night and only got it back an hour ago. Things are still pretty sketchy, but I'll post updates as I can.
The power went out in Tampa around 8AM and was out all day, as near as I can tell. Flooding is widespread. Last night I came back home to Mulberry--just south of Lakeland--and the homestead had been without power for nearly two days at this point. Power came back on around 3 this morning, there's practically no damage, just a few shingles and some limbs.