7/10/05 REPORTS: Hurricane Dennis


Currently in Pensacola and Chasing with Blake Michaleski for the hurricane dennis intercept.

Major Fuel Shortage!!! The area is pretty much out of fuel but we are very well supplied with enough to get back to Texas if needed. We spent the day shooting video for TWC and watch a lot of people pretty much begin to go into storm mood (mode) where everyone was very short with everyone when we were filming one gas station late at night that got a last minute shipment of fuel in.

We also spent the day at the beach and got some great footage of the outer bands coming in. To see the blog of the chase you can catch it on my webpage http://www.stormchaservideo.com

Here is one of the photos from when the outer band moved in. I did time lapse of this and the video is pretty crazy.

I'm currently in Pensacola in a concrete parking garage at a hospital and the only parking available is on the top floor. The conditions are going down quickly. The latest winds are 140mph, looks like I'm going to be in for a ride in a few hours. I will try to give some updates if I can maintain an internet connection. There is no gas for many miles. Luckily I have a full tank and some reserve. The people in Pensacola are taking Dennis serious and most have evacuated or gone to shelters.
Quick report from Blake Michaleski and Doug Kiesling...They took the brunt of the eastern eyewall just west of Navarre. They were able to drive west on Hwy. 84 where they intercepted the eye....and followed it north to I-10 at Avalon Beach. The would like to relay that they are safe with no major problems to speak of. More as I hear from them.
Experiencing 40mph sustained winds here with a 52mph gust. 185,000 customers across Alabama are without power. Atmore has taken the brunt where a tornado touched down reported by the mayor in the northern eyewall. That area is being described as pretty much destroyed.
We started off in Jackson and drove down to Pensacola yesterday morning and checked into a hotel. There was no gas at any station when we arrived and I got down to 3/4 of a tank when Blake and Doug called where they found a station that had 13000 gallons delivered at 9pm so I went and topped off my tank and could only fill one of my jugs since there was a $30 max and a very long line. I went back to the hotel and got my gear organized and went to sleep about 2AM. I got up this morning about 5 and went and scouted out the Pensacola area for some good spots to ride out a very strong cat 4 hurricane. I found a several parking garages right on the bay but they were only two stories and since Dennis had the possibility of being a cat 5 at the time I decided on a garage a little farther inland.

Dennis was entirely different than any hurricane that I have ever chased. It was a strong hurricane but it was very unique since the strong winds were in a very narrow corridor. Even as the eye moved on shore over Navarre Beach the winds in Pensacola were only about 35mph sustained. The winds went from 30-40 range to 90's in a matter of minutes and only lasted for about 30 minutes and the winds died to less than 20. The storm was clearly dying right as it moved on shore, just like Ivan, Lilly. Opal and almost every storm that ever hits that area. I missed the actual eye by a couple miles and could not position myself to get in it since it came in over the bay, but managed to catch the NW quadrant of the wall and the storm made a wobble to the west so the southern part of the wall also got us. There were several gusts that had to be 125+. I took some video on top of a parking garage in the eyewall and was nearly knocked off my feet several times. Just as the south part of the wall was moving off I left the garage and started taking some damage photos. The eastern parts of Pensacola (where I was) there was extensive tree damage and many power lines down. Too my surprise there was very little structural damage to houses and businesses and only minor street flooding. Most of the damage that Dennis caused was stuff under repair from Ivan. Many of the structures in the Fl panhandle still had the blue tarps on the roof and Dennis opened up the band aid and spit in the houses of the Pensacolians. Those poor people must be going crazy! After about an hour of looking at damage the streets started to fill up with police, fire dept, EMS, media, electrical trucks, phone company and tree guys so I decided it was time to go before I was getting in the way. On I-10 from the bay bridge to exit 12 (about a 5 mile stretch) there were many trees laying across I-10 and the median was the only way around. Once I got past that stretch you couldn't tell that anything more than a thunderstorm came through. The winds were calm until I got just SE of Hattiesburg, Ms and the winds picked up for about 50 miles. I just got home and I am too tired. If you would like some photos or video PM or email me and I will get it to you tomorrow.
Hurricane Dennis Video

Ok, I'm back home and have updated my webpage ( corrected ) http://www.stormchaservideo.com with all the hurricane dennis video from Pensacola to Gulf Breeze, Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach Florida from over the weekend. Blake and I were in the right front quadrant of the storm with category three winds, while they lasted, as this storm mellowed out fast after we saw the eastern part of the eye and started to chase in what was left of the eye.

The surge video from Navarre Beach and Gulf Breeze is insane.

Just another day at the office... As the pier was coming apart under my feet.

945mb Measured on Our Barometer!!!

Sean Maroney and I were on the east side of Pace, FL just west of Milton. We experienced very strong winds sustained in the 100mph range with much stronger gusts that I won't even try to guess. Dennis was incredible, we were treated with tropical storm force winds until about 20 minutes before the eye moved over us. We were in the eye for about 15 minutes before the low-precipitation,weak-winded, backside eyewall hit us. We then continued NNW into Alabama dodging trees and powerlines into the night following the strongest winds on the North side of the "eye remnents".

We measured 965mb on our barometer just before the most intense winds hit us near the eyewall.
We then measured 955mb as the most intense winds were pounding us in the eyewall.
We then measured 945mb inside the eye! For a 15 minute duration inside the eye the pressure held unchanging at 945mb!!!

The clouds began to race in the opposite direction and the pressure began to rapidly rise as the eye moved away, so we jumped in the car and proceeded to chase the then rapidly weakening eye north-northwestward.
Somehow found a gas station that was closed, but the pumps were on and accepted gas cards in Butler, AL; we would have been stuck for who knows how long in Alabama (nothing against Alabama) if we didn't find gas at that time.

Incredible Hurricane, though I really would have liked to experience the 145mph winds and 931mb pressure Dennis had at peak intensity, I'm EXTREMELY glad it weakened and spared a lot of people life and loss.

Watching the Barometer drop to 945mb on the barometer was the highlight of the year!

Simon Brewer
Also a BIG thanks to Derek Deroche, Andy Revering, and Evan Bookbinder for their updates.

I can only imagine how this would have been if it hadnt have weakened. thankfully it did. I dont think the area could have handled another Ivan-like storm. This storm was moving too fast and had too small of a hurricane force windfield to have a really big surge. There was some but it was probably 5-6 feet at the worst.
video up

This is late, but I finally had time to load a short video clip of my hurricane Dennis chase:

In the video we were positioned in Pace, FL, got the intense northern section of the eyewall, received winds sustained in the 115-120 range with gusts in the 120-135 range out of the ENE, the eye moved over us and the pressure dropped to 945mb and the final seconds of the video show the backside or southern portion of the eyewall hitting us with much weaker winds out of the SSW to SW.


Just click on the link above for the video (8mb). It's low quality wmv format, AND JUST IN: I've uploaded another video clip (16mb), it's a higher quality clip, but it's worth the download, just click on the link below: