Sunday, March 24, 2013

Rainy Day and Fort Pickens Tour

I an sorry to say I have become a cup-half-empty person.  In the past I was a cup-half-full person, but in my dotage I have become more negative. So, that said, here’s why I say that this time around.

I was really looking forward to staying at Fort Pickens. Being on an island with the Gulf of Mexico on one side and Pensacola Bay on the other and using it as a base for other activities. However, island life has it’s challenges.

Take the recent potential for severe weather.  In an RV you are always more susceptible to the whims of nature.  How many times have you seen news stories on TV about campgrounds being ravaged by winds, tornados or even floods? We carry a weather radio with us to use if we don’t have TV reception and we keep an eye on weather reports so we know if bad weather is coming.


The forecast for Saturday was severe thunderstorms with the potential for high winds, large hail, possible tornados and inches of rain.  Yikes!! During storms Fort Pickens Rd. may flood.*  Yikes, Yikes!!!!!.  Would we be stranded in the campground? Would we be stranded outside the campground?  How long would we be stranded? The camp hosts said that roads could be closed up to three days if they would flood. Yikes, Yikes, Yikes!!!!!!!!!!!.  We hung around the campground and decided to visit the fort and take the tour as I was afraid we would get stranded out of the park and the dogs would be locked in the trailer.


As luck would have it, we toured with a group of Cub Scouts.  The ranger guide gave an excellent tour for the kids. We learned a lot, too, however there was no opportunity for us to ask questions.   Our guide said we could come back as they give tours every day at 2 p.m.

Well, I must say that the storms were insignificant.  A little thunder and some rain showers, but no wind or hail. What a relief.

* Here is the official statement by the park:  “Santa Rosa Island is a dynamic barrier island that changes naturally over time.  When sections of the Fort Pickens Road were reconstructed in 2009, it was designed to accommodate vehicle access to the park with minimal disruption to the wildlife habitat and natural processes that make this island special.  Thus, the elevation of the road is very low and, therefore, subject to periodic flooding.  This may occur at least several times a year, especially from storm surge, or when above average high tides, coupled with strong southerly winds, push water onto the road.  Flood events will range from minor instances around the time of high time—where visitors would be forced to drive through some shallow salt water to get to or from Fort Pickens—to significant over-washes, where the volume of water and sand deposited on the road may cause impassable driving conditions for days or weeks. When the water recedes, the sand will be removed from the road with heavy equipment and the road will then be inspected for damage . . .If we anticipate that a flood event will likely result in a closure of the road, or if water actually starts to overwash the road, we may evacuate the campground, cancel reservations and close the Fort Pickens Area altogether.  This may be done on very short notice. You must be prepared to leave on short notice.”

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