Hurricane Emily Updates from Tulum, Playa del Carmen, & Cancun Mexico

***July 21, 2005, Post Emily update, I've gotten a number of emails from friends and family of those still in the Tulum area asking for information on the present situation.  While I drove back to Cancun and flew out that afternoon, I thought I would post some photos of just before Emily hit. I stayed at the Hotel Posada Addy along with a group of French Students.  As you can see, plywood is up on the windows and doors.  When you open the door you have to bend down to get out.  The plywood was used to protect the upper plastic part of the door.  Photo 3 is of me talking to the French guys telling them how strong a Category 4 hurricane is and what to expect.  They were keenly interested in the top winds and when they found out they could hardly believe it.  The forth photo is of the British ladies who like the French students were just traveling the country and got stuck in a CAT 4 Hurricane.  I told them what to expect but luckily for them they had the safest room in the motel.  It was in a corner and out of the wind.  The good news is the lowest pressure I recorded that night of the hurricane was 978 millibars which means that the strongest winds of Emily went to the north of us.  However, there were a lot of power poles down that fed power into the city.  It will likely be some time before power is restored.  I left the area the morning after the storm to film parts north that were harder hit.  I had a flight out that afternoon and decided to film the damage on the back to Cancun and catch my flight back if the airport was open.  I know the Mexican government was working hard to restore services - I saw them out very early documenting the damage and controlling the traffic.  On the way back to Cancun one government official coming the other way, told me the road was blocked (both lanes) by a fallen steel beam south of Playa Del Carmen.  When I got there I just drove off the side of the road so I didn't have a problem getting back to Cancun.  That was the only obstacle in my path.  After every hurricane I've been to life is a little miserable without power and water but I'm sure your loved one's are ok and will contact you when the services are restored.  Hang in there.  Jim Edds 

***11pm EDT, 7/18/05, Florida Keys - Just some scattered thoughts before I rest my fried brain! What a long day it has been.  I ended up in Tulum, Mexico for the better part of Emily.  As I predicted Emily was really juiced up when it came ashore.  There was all kinds of lightning during the night - something you don't see in every hurricane..  I checked in at the Pasada Motel in Tulum and much to my surprise so did about 30 French foreign students and 3 British chicks.  And I thought I was going to be all alone! It was like some big international chaser convention in the middle of nowhere.  My cell phone quit just as I was getting an update from Jeff Gammons around 7pm.  Last I knew the eye was headed for Tulum.  The leader of the French group spoke pretty good English so I brief him on what to expect from a 145 mph Hurricane. 

Unfortunately, all the rooms faced into the wind so the locals put up plywood over the plastic and metal framed doors and windows.

 Everyone was out on the walk around balconies enjoying the wind pick up when a big gust hit and all the lights went out.  Well, they all retreated to their rooms in a hurry after that. The wind was kicking up the dust big time so I put on my goggles and went around passing out light sticks and checking on folks.  A short time later there was a big gust of wind and I heard a loud bang.  It turned out to be the
heavy metal sliding door protecting the hotel parking lot that fell on a couple of the cars.  Guess who was driving one of those cars? Here are some aftermath pics that I took the next day on the road from Tulum to Cancun.  That had to be some incredible wind to peel over a micro wave tower.  I never thought one of those sturdy towers would ever do that.  The third photo is of a couple of guys checking out a crushed car.  They got a little to close and attracted the attention of the guy in blue - the local policia.  I didn't see any looting unlike in the US.  I'd say the government did a great job clearing the road of debris right after the storm.  The other two shots are of snapped concrete power poles and a poor gas station overhang. I'm sure there was a lot more damage off the main roads.  I had to head back for my flight in Cancun and didn't have time to do a full damage assessment.  It's time for bed . . . I'll post more tomorrow.  Jim Edds

***11:06 am EDT, 7/16/05, Cancun Mexico
I'm finally on line . . . the hotel wifi went down during the night but I found an office still open down the street.  Whew, I need data to track this storm because nobody seems to know where Emily is going.  As of 11am it appears that the forecast track is still for just south of Cozumel.  Cozumel was evacuated yesterday so I will likely head south to Playa del Carmen (about 80km or 50 miles) before the weather gets too bad and the sun goes down.  As I look out over the ocean, it's perplexing.  The rain laden feeder bands have not come in yet but the ocean has risen up to the base of the resort I'm at.  The ocean is a conveyor of the approaching storm.  It's really hot and sticky here.  No wonder monster hurricanes spin up here in the deep tropics.  This will probably be my last post until after the storm.  Take care everyone.  Scott, ready to get a bead on the doppler radar for me?? Jim Edds, Chasing Emily***

***10:45pm, 7/16/05, Cancun Mexico
Waiting for the 11pm EDT update from the NHC.  Not that it will change my plans much  . . . it's just the drill us cane chasers go through.  Got to digest all the updates no matter what.  OK, 11pm forecast track is out now and I'm in a perfect spot for a right side intercept.  I'm just going to stay put and save gas.  No use running all over the place burning precious fuel tomorrow until I get a final bearing on the storm.  I'll be using street atlas and the DeLorme GPS for navigation.  I'll call Scott McPartland in Queens NY for the GPS coordinates, convert to degrees, minutes, and then head south.  At some point I'll just have to commit to a safe spot and ride out the hurricane.  Sounds simple enough, yeah right.  There is also a Cancun doppler radar that Scott will be watching for me. Time to hit the sack and get an early start filming the real evacuation tomorrow morning.  Go to Jeff Gammons' page to view the video clips from Cancun:     Jim Edds***

***8:36pm EDT, 7/16/05, Cancun Mexico update
I just watched a gorgeous fireball sunset in the west a few minutes ago.  Last time I'll see that for a while.  I went down into Cancun and topped off my tank so I'd have plenty to head south if that's where Emily decides to go.  There is 1 road that runs north south along the shore here - hwy 307.  Only problem is I don't know the terrain very well and I am told to stick to the bigger cities because they have more shelter.  Some of these towns are just small coastal towns - not much protection in a CAT 4-5.  I'm a little scared about tomorrow but I'm always scared knowing I'm going to get smacked by one of these tropical terrors.  Here in the deep tropics they don't weaken like when they get up near 30 degrees latitude.  Dennis weakened, Lili weakened, Isabel weakened.  Contrast that with monster canes like Gilbert in 1988, Mitch in 1998, and Iris a few years ago.  Nope, the NW Caribbean is notorious for spinning up monsters and I'll bet my next flat tire Emily will be just as strong as she is now.  I'm going to get up early and shoot the 
evacuation and likely be the last one to leave.  They'll have to boot me out - having high speed WiFi is my only way to stay in touch with the world.  Well, I'm going to have a look at Senor Frogs (popular pub down the street) and see what all the fuss is about.  Tomorrow the stalking begins!  Jim Edds****

Police getting ready for the evacuation

***I'm on the beach in Cancun, Mexico waiting for very dangerous borderline Cat 5 Emily.  The hotel is likely going to evacuate all the guests in a few hours.  The locals know Emily is coming this way but they don't not know the details.  I've been showing guests and staff the NHC graphics because I have wireless internet.  A lot of them remember
Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 and the horrible destruction it cause to the tourism industry here. Just waiting for the 5pm eastern advisory from the NHC.  In any event, if Emily goes through the Yucatan channel there is still the storm surge to deal with.  All the motels are right up against the beach.  It's a beautiful beach day and hard to believe it will be chaos in another 24 hours.  I'll post until they pull the plug on me tomorrow.     Jim Edds, 4pm EDT, July 16, 2005**

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