Irma Arrives

The outer bands and tropical wind gusts have begun hitting Southern Florida and the Keys, and that is with the eye of Irma still a couple hundred miles away.  This storm is just awesome in it’s size, and awful in it’s power. Reports are readily available in the news and on line and if you are staying in an area designated as an A-level evacuation zone and are not paying attention: You are in serious peril. As was requested in Houston, please write your social security number and name in sharpie on your arm so your body will be easier to identify.

I’m sorry that seems so cold and flippant.  People, including me, make bad choices sometimes.  Riding this storm out is a really bad choice.  Staying at home in that zone means you are trusting your house to endure  hours of 100 mph winds and debris battering it while it possibly sits in as much as 12 feet of water. Once the roof blows off, the walls will fall apart.  Hiding in the bathtub won’t help because it cannot float. Safe shelters are available and you should be at one.

The high pressure system that was holding the storm on it’s path seemed to strengthen late yesterday and has caused the storm to delay it’s turn to the north.  That means the center of Irma will now turn after it passes the Southern tip of Florida and head up the East coast, similar to the path I had predicted (aka: guessed) a week ago.  Unlike my expectations, it will not cross the state around St Pete and head east.  The storm will hit land somewhere between Ft Myers and St Pete and then continue up the coast to the panhandle.  Georgia will take a beating from the rain and by Tuesday it settles and stalls near Nashville.  Rain rain rain.

But, not so much for Fauquier County.  While this track to Nashville is happening, a high pressure cold front is dropping down over us which will actually steer the storm remnants farther west instead of heading up the Ohio valley.  Fauquier will see moderate rain on Monday through Wednesday but by Thursday the 14th we will enjoy the September-like weather and clear skies or only partial clouds.  Apple picking time!

Hurricane Irma Update

There is a lot of serious news coverage on this and I’m pleased they are emphasizing the potential risks of this storm.  Given that, I’ll just cover some quick facts:

  • An eye wall replacement cycle is happening this morning which means the storm has weakened slightly with sustained winds of 155 mph.  That is still like an F2 tornado in wind power, so its still dreadful for anyone in its path.
  • There is some slight indication it may brush closer to Cuba as it approaches Miami.  The mountains in Cuba could weaken it more, however if it tracks 50 miles north then it could also strengthen from favorable conditions.
  • The track continues to take it into Florida somewhere along the southern tip.  It is still too soon to say which side of the state it will lean toward.  Since the state is 160 miles wide and the eye of the storm is 57 miles wide, the worst winds will cover 1/3 of the state wherever it centers, and the entire width of the state will take a brutal wind beating.  The storm field of the system covers 600 miles so it will rain heavily everywhere and initial storm surges will affect both the east and west shorelines.
  • It is likely to be a Cat 4 storm when it hits Florida with winds of 155mph.
  • The Keys and southern Florida will start feeling the storm’s energy Sunday evening and night. That night and Monday morning are going to be unpleasant.  Winds will drop quickly to 105 mph.
  • There is a high pressure system over Colorado and another over the Great Lakes that are forming a low pressure trough that will pull the storm right up through the state of Florida into Georgia and Tennessee. At midnight on Wednesday morning the storm will be near Nashville, TN. and will have deteriorated to 30 mph winds with several inches of rain.
  • The high over the great lakes will move up and allow the remnants of Irma to then flow up the Ohio valley to rain itself out.
  • Fauquier county will experience much less of the effects however we will still receive rain from the storm on Wednesday, maybe starting later on Tuesday evening.  I know this sounds odd, and maybe its only me, but it will even smell like a tropical storm outside that day.  I suspect the rain could linger into Thursday.
  • So far Hurricane Jose is not showing any inclinations toward affecting the mainland US.

Irma update

The path in the next 48 hours is pretty certain with it pushing its way up the east cast of Florida. It will remain a major hurricane for three more days which means that Florida will have some very serious wind damage. The storm surge depths (and thus flooding) really depend on how close the eye of the storm comes to the shoreline. Staying off shore, only the second worst part of the circulation hits Florida. But at 160 mph winds with gusts to 190, second worst is bad as hell. This thing is really now sort of like a gargantuan F3 tornado instead of a hurricane. (OK, technically that’s not at all correct but the spin of the winds in this hurricane are comparable to those in an F3 tornado.)

This morning they expect it to come ashore between Savannah Ga and Charleston, SC as a Cat 2 hurricane and quickly drop to be a Cat 1 hurricane, then likely diminish steadily. I suspect we will have it pass over us as a tropical depression next Wednesday afternoon so we will get winds and lots of rain from Early Tuesday well into the weekend.

For my Fauquier neighbors who may have been planning some sort of outdoor fall festival or event between September 11 to 17, your plans should include preparing for rain and winds that are left over from Hurricane Irma.

For my friends in Nags Head, it looks like very good news if this track holds. It won’t be sunny, but if it behaves this way it looks like your new beach may be spared and you’ll just have several inconvenient days.

HOWEVER… that is a week away and the track of this could/will change. If it shifts further out to sea from Florida, its good for Florida and Fauquier County, and bad for Hatteras. Everyone in Florida, Savannah-Charleston and also the outer banks should still be preparing for the chance of a serious hurricane visiting in a week.

I guess the uplifting message in this is that things could be worse even in the face of what may be the worst storm in history in the Atlantic ocean.

Hurricane Irma

I had to take an involuntary break from TourFauquier for a couple of weeks and have missed my readers and the exciting challenge of discovering and writing about the treasures in Fauquier County, Virginia.  I apologize for the delay.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to drive to Sperryville and compile a list of orchards to return for visits and shopping.  I sense home made pies and apple butter in my future!  Fall is a magical time in the Piedmont and I think may be my favorite season of each year.

I’ve been an amateur weather analyst/forecaster working on micro forecasts for Warrenton for over ten years.  With Hurricane Irma now trending toward a run up the East coast, there is a distinct possibility that we may experience  the hurricane in Fauquier County.  Given that, I thought I’d share my facebook post from earlier this morning where I discuss the possibilities for the hurricane:

“Irma update: Can only speak of trends and indications as nothing is certain this far out. Florida is, of course, preparing and has ordered the evacuation of the keys. This storm could be worse than Andrew was 25 years ago… Andrew had no storm surge.

Now the bad news, and please indulge me to be a little technical. Hurricanes move based on the winds in their area, and the direction of the winds is based on bubbles of air pressure. High pressure bubbles push the storm away, low pressure air bubbles suck the storm toward it.

Earlier I had said I could imagine the storm flowing over Key West, then turning north, hitting St Pete going across the state and then up the east coast. This was based on some various bubbles of pressure I was seeing form over Japan and the northern latitudes. Timing, of course, is everything.

So the low pressure I saw forming has somehow accelerated and continues to speed up. This thing is at an altitude of 40,000 ft and can influence the jet streams that flow about 10,000 ft below it. The top levels of the hurricane can get to the 30,000 ft level and I believe the air above the hurricane can actually move it more effectively than lower air currents.

So the possibility (not certain) is developing that the storm makes a quick turn before it crosses under Florida and then heads up the Atlantic coast line. Since the worst storm damage occurs in the north-east quadrant of a storm, and the US coast is actually at an angle of about 45 degrees toward the north east, this could set up for a lot of damage all the way up the coast. Once it gets to Hatteras, which juts out into the ocean, it would hit hard.

From there it could get pushed back inland sending it up through Virginia, PA and New England. Or it could stay along the coast. I don’t see it moving out to sea because there is a large high pressure bubble that’s stuck over Bermuda and stretches all the way to New York. That will keep it flowing toward land.

I don’t believe this will cross the Gulf of Mexico. The most westerly path, I think, could take it into Mobile, AL. It could still do what I first talked about. Total crap shoot right now.

The next 48 hours will tell the story. Regardless, the most important thing now for everyone in any of the potential paths is to do your prep and stay tuned.”

Things to consider in preparation for a hurricane in Fauquier:

  • Refill prescriptions so you have two weeks worth available
  • Fill your vehicles with gas. Consider whether you need to top off your propane tank(s) for cooking and hot water.
  • If you have a generator, power it up to make sure it is ready to go. If it is portable, decide now where to put it so it is accessible, safe from water and in a place where you can safely connect it to your home emergency circuit or devices you need to power. Have stored fuel to keep it running for three days.  Typically, one tank full of fuel lasts about 9 hours.
  • Eat your stored frozen food in advance of the storm in case you have to go without power for several days.  If you have more than you can handle, and also know how to correctly can foods, consider preparing it and canning it now.
  • Have stored food and water to last 4 days.  Food should be that kind which requires minimal preparation, if any, and should be varied and healthy.
  • Toilet paper.
  • If you are on a well, be sure to stockpile water to use for flushing toilets for several days.  You may need about 1.5 gallons for each flush.  If you are in the midst of a power outage, use dishwater for flushing.
  • Make sure you have batteries for light at night, and also a way to charge your cell phone.  This is especially important if you’ve given up a wired telephone or rely on Internet service for telephone use. You need a way to call for help just in case.
  • Pack a bag with a couple days of clothing and toiletries for each person and put this in your car in the event you have to make a quick exit.
  • Contact a friend and pre-arrange for shelter with them just in case.
  • Prepare for your pets.  They will also need food, water, bedding, litter.  If you have large animals, have a plan for all the possibilities you may face.
  • If you have children, plan for games and other activities to keep them engaged and entertained if there are periods without TV, etc.  If they are bored, they will become more of a burden on the parents who already have a lot to deal with. Keeping them entertained may also help the kids cope with the stress of the situation.
  • Look around your house and property and consider the possibility that wind could blow things around causing damage.  Also consider that water could pool or flood and move things that would not handle that well to a higher place.
  • Visit your ATM and withdraw cash to have on hand just in case merchants cannot process credit cards for some reason.
  • Do you know anyone who is elderly or otherwise unable to care for themselves safely in a stressful situation?  If so, please help them with all of the above.

Late Summer Grilling

Today I’m thinking about the extraordinary Filet Mignon raised by Jessiefilet Straight on his Fauquier county Whiffletree Farm and skillfully dry aged by Todd Eisenhauer at Black Bear Mercantile on Culpeper Street in Warrenton. Literally fork-tender and the flavor of gods when seasoned with Zafferones Steak Rub.

Grillers and gentlemen: If you want to be *the best* in your neighborhood you must have products from these Fauquier merchants on your grill!  Trust me…


And, for a great portable grill, perfect for tailgating, or a convenient stovetop smoker that makes smoking your favorite foods incredibly simple, visit my shop at Zafferones. If you live in Warrenton I will deliver your purchase free. Great for Labor Day and Christmas gifts!



Bluegrass Happened and the Steel Drums Are Coming!

I didn’t make it there myself but others on Facebook have reported that there were about thirty musicians at Eva Walker Park last Sunday for the bluegrass jam!  Above is a clip of a similar jam from last May.  If you enjoy bluegrass music then Eva Walker Park is the place to be on the second Sunday of each warm weather month.

This weekend’s Bluemont Concert finale features one of the most popular performers for the Bluemont Concert Series: Pan Masters Steel OrchestraThe performance opens on the stage in Warrenton this coming Saturday evening at 7:30pm.

Pan Masters has been a Bluemont favorite for decades and has a deep and broad history in celebrating the beautiful music that can be produced on steel drum instruments. I’ve watched many of their videos on YouTube and couldn’t find any where the technical recording was done well, but this sample above, while an older recording, is one of the best available.

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Bluemont on the Green

Tonite I stood in the midst of greatness.

This is going to be a difficult blog to write because on one of my screens is this verbal canvas where I am anxious to tell you about the people, places and things I enjoyed this evening before watching the storm roll into town.
And on my other screen is the news about Charlottesville. *sigh*

About 40 years ago Peter Dunning felt the urge to have a few friends get together tobluemont ad enjoy some music.  They had fun and decided to do it again.

Today, Peter Dunning is the President Emeritus of the Bluemont Concert Series, a non-profit organization that presents music concerts in twelve Virginia counties. Since he founded Bluemont in 1976, they have presented over 5000 outstanding events to more than two million people in 68 Virginia communities.  I am so grateful that one of those is the town of Warrenton, Va.

The concert is staged in front of a shop on Culpeper Street in Warrenton and the audience sits on the lawn between the county court and the old hotel. It is a natural amphitheater.  The stage and audio system are simple but professionally done and perfectly adequate.


Remember that I am on a quest to learn about my county, neighborhood and neighbors and I was surprised to learn that one local civic organization is allowed to set up their own information and fund raising effort at each Bluemont Concert.

Tonite I had the pleasure of visiting with the ladies of the Fauquier County Quilters. They work to share their love of and to promote the tradition of quilting. This is an art form that could easily be forgotten in our manufactured world were it not for outstanding groups like this.  Please check out their web site and see the wide array of activities they enjoy together. Especially, read about the meaningful contributions they make to our community.  One day I want to visit with them and see if I can quilt something without bleeding profusely on the material.

The quilters were offering a fundraising bake sale that looked delicious!

Once you picked your cookies or cake from the quilting ladies and desired something stronger than their iced tea, you could head to the beer and wine garden for a relaxing drink.

The two folks standing on the right are Amelia Stansell and Bob Lee of Middleburg Bank.  Middleburg Bank was the generous sponsor of tonite’s concert. Since they merged into Access National Bank in April, it may be more important than ever to let the organization know that they need to continue the great community support that was provided while known as Middleburg Bank.

There is a suggested admission fee of $5.00 to enter the concert space.  Since it is suggested I assume they would be happy with a contribution of more, or less.  There is a door prize drawing at the concert as well.

OK, maybe this has all been very Andy Griffith-like which is, of course, one of the reasons we all chose to live in a small town community.

All of these participants: Bluemont Concerts, Fauquier Quilters and Bank of Middleburg are the greatness which surrounded me at the concert. Frequent NPR guests Harmonious Wail were more than outstanding on the main stage!  Before performing on the Green this evening, Harmonius Wail also did a private performance for a local nursing home.  Bluemont pays their performers to do two performances each concert day, the first at a local nursing facility or similar place for those who can not attend the public concert.  Amazing.

Have a look and be sure to notice the cicadas that, while uninvited, felt moved to sing along:

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Stormy Weather

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning yesterday evening around 6:25 pm and I happened to catch a short video of the storm front passing through.  The shelf cloud is clearly visible followed by the severe rain cell.  Minimal lightning a few miles ahead of the front and there were quite a bit of skud clouds near us that were very clearly being sucked into the updraft of this storm around the rain cell.  Even though there was a tornado warning, I only saw one area that had any real rotation and it was short lasting. The harshest part of the storm was following I-66 eastward over Gainesville and that’s what you see here.  It was a rare occurrence where the center of the storm was returning Doplar radar pulses strongly enough that it was showing as purple and white intensity over a large area of Gainesville.  It would have been interesting to be under that to see what it was like, but then I wouldn’t have gotten this video…

Bluemont Flashback

First, I want to thank everyone for the many who have Liked and Shared this blog in the past few days! There is no external reward for doing something like this other than an audience saying “you did good” by liking and sharing. So for that I am very grateful and humbled.

There are two Concert Events in Fauquier this weekend!

Saturday at 7:30 pm is the next-to-last Bluemont Concert on the Green in Warrenton and it features Harmonious Wail, a jazz trio out of Madison Wisconsin.  They are described as being influenced by European Gypsy musicians including one of my absolute favorites, Stephan Grapelli.  I am very excited to see this so here’s a little preview from YouTube:

Keep reading to see a Warrenton Bluemont Concert flashback below, and if you see me filming Harmonious Wail this Saturday, please say hello.

Sunday from 2 pm to 5 pm in Eva Waller Park will be another Bluegrass Jam hosted by the Warrenton Health, Parks and Recreation department.  If you are a musician, bring your instrument and join in!  Those of us who can only be an admiring audience should bring chairs and maybe a picnic.  Slow jams happen the first hour and then after that the hillbilly comes out and the banjo catches fire!

In 2012 I had the great opportunity to help crew the Bluemont performance of Paul Reisler and A Thousand Questions here in town.  It was amazing with world-renown harmonica artist Howard Levy, genius multi-instrumentalist Joe Craven, brilliant Nashville singer-songwriter Amy Speace and their leader, an extraordinarily talented musical prophet who is making the world better through critical elementary school musical education, Paul Reisler.  It was an absolutely wonderful evening.  Here is my clip of this event.  Incidentally, Joe Craven also performed with Stephan Grapelli at one point:

Please be sure to Like and Share my blog, and thanks again for all the warm support that is being offered!

Go To The Theater!

Community theater is one of the greatest lifestyle assets to a city, town or county.  Fauquier is privileged to have its own Fauquier Community Theater (FCT) playing on their permanent home stage in Vint Hill.  It is outstanding!

They have announced their new season which begins with the first opening in October:

  • 1776 The Musical – The 1969 original of this play won three of five Tony awards for which it was nominated and the 1997 reprise also enjoyed multiple Tony nominations. With the recent success of Hamilton, it makes sense to present this American-31FOUNDERS8-web-master495history-based comedic musical here. The story focuses on the efforts to convince the delegates to the Continental Congress to draft the Declaration of Independence. John Adams was pushing for the topic to be taken up, but the early summer heat was oppressive and the other delegates just wanted him to sit down and shut up. Benjamin Franklin, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson all play a part in creating the document and the story playfully explores their lives and conflicts as they create the document that was life changing for us today. Personally, I’d rate this production choice a 7 out of 10 stars (or Whatever) and Director Jacob Lash is a solid choice for this production.  Shows are October 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22
  • Greater Tuna – Wildly popular across the county, Greater Tuna parades a cast of characters from the third smallest town in Texas, Tuna.  In the original productions tunaall characters of all ages and genders are played by the same two people and it is hilarious. Honestly. The characters are priceless and the story is engaging.  I don’t yet have the secrets on whether FCT will handle the cast with only two people or cast it with more, but thats really only a novelty.  The storyline and character development are the treasures.  I’m excited enough about this to go for 8 out of 10 of those things (Whatever, they are) we are awarding. Directing will be Don Bachmann.  Shows are November 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12
  • Fruitcakes – I love fruitcakes and make the best using an old family recipe from one of my aunts. This story is about a runaway kid who lands in a town where one mixes “a batch of fruitcakes, three dozen Christmas trees, 10,000 outdoor 6a00d8341c4fe353ef017ee5c4e4ef970dChristmas lights, a chicken pox epidemic, two southern spinsters, an estranged old man, a lost cat named Tutti Frutti and a Christmas hog named Buster and [results in a] recipe for a fun-filled and touching evening of holiday warmth and Christmas cheer”. This is a popular community theater production that I confess to having not seen before, so I won’t rate the selection. I do, however, love the premise of the play and hopefully Director Lucia Hanover will make it excellent. Shows are December 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17
  • Deathtrap – Twisting, turning plots in this play about a play keep you engaged till the finale when you realize you’ve been played all along.  The original had a deathtrappowerful four-year run on Broadway and still holds the title for the longest running comedy-thriller on Broadway. It was nominated for the Tony for Best Play.  It was also produced as a film starring Christopher Reeve, Michael Caine and Dyan Cannon. This is a powerhouse script that’s guaranteed to be gold in the hands of the right cast. I’m rating this 8 Whatevers out of 10 as an outstanding choice.  Please FCT, find the perfect cast to work with Director Scott J. Strasbaugh on this!  Shows are January 26, 27, 28, February 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11
  • Much Ado About Nothing – Gossip, Rumor and eavesdropping are still as alive and well today as they were in the 16th century when The Bard (William Shakespeare) wrote this tale of two couples struggling to find their way to the alter.  Unlike most ofmuch Shakespeare the text of this play is written in prose instead of verse. James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave played the leading couple in a production of this tale in London in 2013. So here’s my honest opinion and you are welcome to disagree, or think disagreeable things about me: I love Shakespeare but I have to be in the right mood and frame of mind to really enjoy it.  Its a personal thing, not a reflection on the script which has been proven to be genius over the centuries. Because of the slight language differences and the often use of verse, it takes a little more work effort by the audience, I believe.  So I’m giving this two ratings: On the level of eager anticipation I feel about seeing this, I’m going with 6 Whatevers. For the theatre science, art and education of the audience and community it is a solid 10.  Each of us should see this play because we will depart with a better life experience than we had going in. That’s just what I think.  Directing will be Rodrigo Pool who certainly has the chops to make this work.  Shows are March 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25.  I will enjoy my birthday next year with the Bard, it appears.
  • Surprise! – Apparently there are limits to how far in advance one can advertise the name of the Broadway musical that is the finale of the Fauquier Community Theater season.  The title of this selection can be announced in September.  The FCT announcement mentions that there will be a musical director for this so one can infer that it will sport a live orchestra.  Can’t rate what I don’t know but I’m very optimistic! If you see Director Isabella Lash, offer her a bribe for the inside scoop! Shows are May 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20

I sincerely encourage all to support and participate in Fauquier Community Theater.  It is great, affordable, local entertainment and has a powerful influence on all in our community, especially youth.  Granted, we live near some of the best professional theater in the US, but one does not have to endure 66 and all that goes with that to have a wonderful evening of theater.  Let me also, please, mention that all the work that goes into this is donated by the cast and crew because of their passion for the art and science of theater and their love of the community.  Please love them back by purchasing tickets and sponsorships at whatever level works for you.

Pictures in this blog are not Fauquier Community Theater production photos.  Please click the photo to visit the previously produced play’s picture source.