Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Updated: Hurricane Season Comes Calling


Update: Tropical Storm Hanna slowed down and is only expected to be passing Northern Florida on Friday afternoon, so the Nationwide Series race from Richmond looks good. Unfortunately, it is forecast to be over Virginia on Saturday evening. Weather.com has the projected path.

Living on the Southeast coast of Florida I have had the pleasure of three hurricanes over the past couple of years and a tropical storm just last week which left behind fourteen inches of rain as a present.

The picture above is the eye of Hurricane Jeanne literally over my house. We were almost a month without power. That little white blotch to the left is Lake Okeechobee. To give you some perspective on the size of the storm, Lake Okeechobee is the second largest freshwater lake in the US behind Lake Michigan. It has its own zip code.

Now, the tropics are swirling once again and this time things are not looking too good for the ESPN gang on Saturday night. The Rock and Roll 400 in Richmond is the first Sprint Cup Series race that ESPN is producing in the ABC package.

As of 8PM on Tuesday, Tropical Storm Hanna was expected to become a hurricane, slide up the Florida coast and be in the Virginia area on Saturday night. The rainfall in advance of the storm may well play a role in the Friday night Nationwide Series race as well. Saturday does not look good at all.

ESPN's David Newton updated host Ryan Burr on Tuesday's NASCAR Now about NASCAR's contingency plans. Newton's comments were that NASCAR would focus on the Sprint Cup Series race and move the Nationwide Series to Sunday or even Monday if weather cancelled the events on Friday night.

In terms of the big ABC race on Saturday, his comment was that NASCAR would stay and try to race on Sunday morning. This would presumably get the teams and transporters out of the track and on the way back to North Carolina in a timely fashion late Sunday afternoon. If worse came to worse, they would try to race on Monday morning.

Newton did not mention anything about the ABC or ESPN contingency plans. The ABC Network does not have network sports access on Sunday mornings across the four time zones of its affiliate stations. Sunday afternoon has a live WNBA game at 1:00PM Eastern Time followed at 3:30PM by the live IRL race from Chicagoland. Cross ABC off the list.

Sunday morning finds ESPN itself involved in the two-hour highly-rated NFL Countdown show. That program runs from 11AM to 1PM live and then transitions to a college football weekend wrap-up show. Cross ESPN off the list.

It looks like ESPN2 will be the intended target for the Cup Series in the same way that Richmond seems to be a potential destination for Hanna. We must make sure to add to this a term that we Floridians know all too well. I think it is one of the greatest phrases of the English language.

We have to remember that all of this is still in...say it with me..."the cone of uncertainty." Possibly the best term ever invented since "actions detrimental to stock car racing."

Basically, no one knows where a force of nature like a hurricane is headed so teams will be experiencing a very interesting weekend of weather as they travel from the Mooresville, NC area to suburban Henrico County, Virginia.

We will continue to add updated info to this post throughout the week and try to keep everyone updated on the series and the TV network plans for the weekend.

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30 comments:

HarpAmy/Amy in FL said...

What an interesting wrench this throws into the whole situation. Thanks for keeping us informed as to what is going to happen.

So, JD, Jeanne was literally over your house at the time that the pic was taken? Wow. After Jeanne paid you a visit, she came up to visit me with over 100mph winds and I am as inland as you can get. Did Jeanne make landfall in Stuart or West Palm or Boca?

I just hope that Nascar and RIR make the right and safe decision as to when to run this weekends races. What would Nascar do if they had to cancel the races entirely and move it to another weekend now that the Chase is here? Does tv have any contigency plans?

Thanks, again, JD for this blog. Please keep us informed as soon as you hear anything.

Newracefan said...

With weather potentially messing up my vacation (traveling to the Outer Banks in 2 weeks), screwing up my NASCAR may push me over the edge. Watching the cup race is hard enough lately but absolutely impossible from work (this means no foxtrax or scanner) and I'm really afraid this race will not come off this weekend.

JD hope you and all others in the path of these storms stay safe and dry. I can always give up my vacation, your home is there.

Vicky D said...

We all know too well the prediction of hurricanes - as the media was all over Gustav the last few days and here in Houston, we never even had ONE drop of rain. Hopefully for the teams and fans, the storm will pass east of Richmond and everything will go as planned this coming weekend. My coworkers in Lafayette & New Orleans have only had loss of power so it wasn't too bad this time. JD I can't imagine being without power for a month you must have gone crazy!

Daly Planet Editor said...

Vicky,

Lots of us over this way have portable generators that run the fridge and keep one room cool.

When I came outside after Jeanne I had a Coast Gaurd helicopter over my house and the guy in the side window gave me the thumbs-up signal.

Only then did it dawn on me that some folks might not be doing so well at that moment.

The weather guys said Fay was going to hit Tampa and bring us on the East Coast four inches of rain in one day.

Needless to say, five days and fourteen inches of rain later...

Just hope everybody in Richmond has someplace to stay other than the motorhomes at the track. Might get a bit windy.

JD

TexasRaceLady said...

JD, I know well what you go through with a hurricane. I lived in Houston for most of my life -- I well remember Carla in 1961.
I was in the part of Houston that received 36 inches of rain in less than 12 hours during TS Allison.

Mother Nature does as she pleases, we just try to cope.

Here in Palestine in East Texas, we were expecting 6+ inches of rain --- didn't even get enough to float the cork in the guage.

I sure hope Hanna leaves you alone and leaves Richmond alone long enough to care of racing.

Stay safe.

glenc1 said...

I have lots of family all over FL, GA & SC, and am watching this by the hour...

Richmond HAS been hit by a hurricane--a few years back Gaston hit shortly before the race weekend--ripped out power poles & flooded, closed a lane of a major inbound road because it washed away the edge, I remember the orange cones. And the parking lot was somewhat water laden. Anyways, it did come off on time which Hanna (no H) might prevent this time. But this can happen to any network for any sport, it's just something to keep an eye on. BTW, the camping area is quite small compared to other races. So hopefully not as many affected, but our concerns are with them. Be safe, everyone!

Daly Planet Editor said...

glen,

I went to VCU, so we liked it when Shockoe Slip filled up with water and floated the cars away.

Hope things stay dry up that way.

JD

bevo said...

I prefer the cone of silence from "Get Smart" myself ;)

Anonymous said...

Is there any possbility of ESPN heading up to Richmond later, after the storm passes. I mean if it is still a hurricane or even a tropical storm when it hits Richmond it wouldnt be a good idea to have millions of dollars of TV equipment lying around would it?

Dot said...

JD,

I do hope you are safe this weekend. I hope my other e friends in the Hanna path are too. It's too bad you can't truck some of that rain water west to LV. We could use it.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:40PM,

That is a great question. The NASCAR TV compound is run by the NASCAR Media Group, a tv and production company that NASCAR owns in Charlotte, NC.

It takes them a couple of days to get all the logistical things parked and powered and strung.

ESPN brings so of its own equipment, as does DirectTV and several other vendors. It has to be there despite the weather risk on this one.

I think if it was a storm headed right at the Richmond area, things might be different.

The way these weather forecasters are going, I fully expect it to make landfall somewhere in Connecticut!

JD

glenc1 said...

Actually, like Larry Mac I'm a big fan of TWC...and they are remarkably accurate about where these things are headed. Not *always*, because we are dealing with Mother Nature, but still...Gustav went pretty much right through the middle of the cone. IIRC, they were right about Jeanne too (I have family who rode it out in Jensen Beach.) Said it would loop around and come back and that's just what it did. It was Charly that took everyone by surprise. Anyways, I am not going to Richmond this year, but I'm kinda glad not to be sitting in the rain.

But talking about the equipment reminded me of something that happened at Watkins Glen--years ago, back when the Busch/Nationwide race was a standalone in June, same day as Sonoma. Anyways, apparently one of the ESPN trucks was late, cause they were cranking some of the cameras up behind us (some kind of hydraulic lift) and swinging giant cables around like mad--this was like 20 minutes before race time. They had to be sweating bullets. Sure enough, just as the green flag waved they were in business; but it was close. I was very impressed though; they were methodical and got it done even though it looks very complicated.

nrf--I've actually used NASCAR.com on Monday races--it's not bad even if you can't 'watch', you can follow. And there's no annoying announcers!

GinaV24 said...

Man, we were at the Richmond race right after that hurricane came through years ago. People were talking about it at the track at how scary it had been. I've sat through an extended rain delay at various races, including Richmond, and it is NO fun at all. And if it's going to be a heavy blowing rain, it's tough on the equipment and on the fans. I wish everyone luck and be safe.

Lisa Hogan said...

This is one of those times when I need a clone. The clone could worry about storms while I worry about racing. :)

After Fay parked over my area of the central east coast of Florida for several days, we were left with 26 inches of rain. My workplace was closed for four days. Some neighborhoods are still flooded and some roads are still closed. Luckily, my home and immediate area are fine now.

Those storms lined up in the Atlantic do not make for a cozy feeling. I’m hoping that Hanna will fizzle out so that everyone will be safe and we can have our racing.

I tend to live most of my life within “the cone of uncertainty”. :)

red said...

ya' know, it's at times such as these that i am eternally grateful to be living in the philly area! the heat and humidity may be enough to make one prone to rash actions but i rarely -- if ever! -- have to worry about hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes or tornadoes where i live. there's quite a bit to be said for such stability!

my thoughts and prayers to all who are or may be in the path of rough weather. stay as safe as you can and know that we're thinking about YOU and not the racing, this weekend and all weekends. whatever racing happens/doesn't happen is secondary to your safety.

that being said: it will be an interesting weekend for espn, to be sure!

speedangel said...

Ugh. Don't remind me about Charley. When that hurricane took a change of direction it went right over, or should I say thru, where I used to live. The complex ended up condemned. I got pieces of Frances and Jeanne that year as well. We also got about 15 inches of rain from Fay a couple weeks ago.

With that said, I'd love to see a night race but I'll take a delayed race if it means everyone stays safe.

Gymmie said...

@gina--that's horrible to hear. I was wondering if they had any "safety" zones. I know here at TMS they have safe zones for folks if a tornado rolls through. I've only been here 4 years and when Rita came it died long before it hit us and they said if it did make it this far north it would have been a Category 1. We had some rain and winds but nothing bad.

@lisa--I have a friend in Charlotte that was flooded form the rains from Fay. Her apartments are being demolished to build a park so she was going to have to move anyway, but didn't expect it to be this soon. Luckily, she'll get aid for the move since it's not the residents fault, but just has to wait her turn. She was woken up at 4:30 to someone banging on her door and in that few minutes from the knock to reach her car to try to move it to higher ground, it was already under water. She had time to grab her cat and a few clothes. Everything has to be trashed because even if there's no water damage the stink is still there :(

Hopefully it'll fizzle out or change direction...but regardless everyone in the possible path stay safe! We can race into December if we have to :)

Lisa Hogan said...

I really do need a clone! :)

I forgot about the Trucks. Wonder if Gustav will have any effect there.

Anonymous said...

Trucks are in St Louis - not many hurricanes hit there. Doubt if any have. Nope this one is headed up the East Coast as usual.

As they say its gonna be interesting next few days. At least race is set for Sat which gives NASCAR Sun, Mon and perhaps Tues? to get race in. They did that last year. Only problem will be who is gonna televise it? Yes its gonna get interesting.

Lisa Hogan said...

Thanks for the laugh, anon.

Remnants from Hurricane Gustav are headed toward the track. Don't know if it will clear out by Saturday.

(Hanna is headed for the east coast)

:)

Anonymous said...

too many storms. Looked at the NHC map and by golly Gustav remnants headed towards mid-west (really) and Missouri area.

Getting more interesting by the minute.

glenc1 said...

There was a T-storm/tornado watch once when I was at Richmond, but I don't recall safe zones. Over 100,000 people, where would you go (other than your car?) Luckily it never happened. Kind of nightmarish even thinking about it. Imagine if more people had been at AMS when they had theirs...

Hurricanes can do a lot more damage inland than people realize. A big slow mover can flood anyplace.

Anonymous said...

Lary Mac always talks about the conference calls the Fox guys have before a race - questions is how many conference calls are going on today and tomorrow involving NASCAR, ESPN, RIR and possibly even Speed TV? did I miss anyone?

Interesting scenarios?

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- Mother Nature does have a way of reminding us of what really is important. Be safe. Hope you dodge the Hannah storm.

majorshouse said...

I live in Central South Carolina and they are talking about us getting somewhere between four and eight inches of rain depending where Hanna comes ashore. It looks like anywhere from Charlteston to Myrtle Beach at this point so it will be very interesting to see what NASCAR does with the race this weekend.

majorshouse said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tracy said...

I was at Richmond last May, when it started out beautifully, then the day deteriorated into steady drizzle, rain, more drizzle - and complete misery. They called the race at 11 p.m. because of Henrico County's sound ordinance.

If they postponed last May until Sunday, I see no way they'll race Friday or Sat. They're calling for 3-5 inches (a lot for this area) and 55 mph winds. Anyway, I'm planning on a Sunday Cup race. Don't have any idea what they'll do about NW, but the RIR web site says they'll have updates.

I'm packing it all - rain slickers, rain boots, etc.

GinaV24 said...

Amen, Tracy, after the first time I went to a race (at Richmond to boot), it poured all day and into the night. I didn't have rain gear with me that time and since it was the May race almost went into hypothermia. Thank goodness for heated seats in the car, I swear it saved my life. We actually went back in September that year and had a great time, but after that experience, I have never again traveled to a race without a full set of rain gear. Live and learn. Maybe the storm will shift and it won't ruin the schedule, but better to be prepared in any case.

Anonymous said...

I'm packing it all - rain slickers, rain boots, etc.

Don't forget a blowup raft so you can make it from the gradnstands to the car. lol.

But all joking aside. I really dont want to see anything mess up this weekends NASCAR event. I think we might see a repeat of last years Michigan race where teams didnt race until Tuesday because of two days of rain.

Jo said...

Well its nice to know more than just me & JD live in the "cone of uncertainty" ( I'm in Brandon near Tampa)I'm so glad I wasn't here for Jeanne & Charly, that said I helped friends clean up after both & Hugo,& helped my sister relocate after Andrew.

I've never been at a track when a hurricane was forecast to come ashore at or near the track. Will they make the RV motor homes park somewhere else or would they let them stay? And what about all the cables from the networks?

We were at TMI during lightning storms & they cleared the stands, so I'm just wondering.

Anyone going to the race please be careful & stay safe.