Hurricane Season Start

Hurricane season hasn’t started yet, but we already have our first named storm of the year.  Happy hurricane season everyone!  As of writing this it is still subtropical (I guess for specific weather nerd reasons it isn’t called a tropical depression), but expected to become a tropical storm.  As a wise guide once stated, it is never too early to start thinking about getting yourself ready for the storm.

I went around and found a few minor issues that could be a big problem if a storm were to hit.  These are easy to do now when I have free time, but would be stressful to complete when a storm is coming.

First up on the list, my screened in porch is getting old and one of the vertical supports broke loose.  It doesn’t hold the roof up, there are 4×4 posts for that, but buffeting winds would do a lot more damage with this part flapping around.  A few right angle brackets and metal screws secured it in place.


Second, I have a set of areca palms that have gotten too close to the house.  I probably shouldn’t have planted them that close in the first place, and might cut them out completely when they start pushing out the fence.  For now, I like them, but need them to be away from the house.  Again, under normal storms they aren’t a problem, but heavy winds could whip those fronds around enough to do real damage to the corner of the roof.


Last but not least my poor fence had another post shear off.  Not sure why they all happen on just this one side, but they do.  The left picture shows a distinct bend.  As it turns out the most bent post is actually rock solid, just not straight.  The one closer to the camera has broken off at the ground.  I left the broken post in place and sank another one next to it.  Everything is much more solid.  Thats it for now.  Time to enjoy a margarita and hope we have quiet season.

Hurricane Shutters

As a wise hurricane guide once said, winter is a great time to think about hurricane season.  Two major issues were highlighted during our last Irma encounter.  Not being able to see out back was maddening, and I had no shutter plans for my garage window.

The window to my garage has a big honking AC unit in it for the summer.  The thing is too big and heavy to move when hurricanes come, so I need a custom shutter.  I wanted it to be made out of a single sheet of plywood, but the threaded studs are 4 feet apart at the outside edge.  I could have shifted the whole thing over, but instead I cut the sheet in half and did it in pieces.  It makes for an easier installation.

I used 3/4″ plywood which ended up being too thick, I couldn’t get enough purchase with the wing nuts.  I used a forstner bit to relieve the area enough for the nuts to hold.  Two cleats above the AC help stiffen the part and give a resting point for a center patch that ties the two halves together.

Everything got a coat of primer to make sure they stay in good shape while waiting out in the garage.  I reassembled everything to make 100% sure it all fit, and marked up some basic instructions.


20171231_114218On to the back porch.  I found polycarbonate panels that are similar to the metal ones we already have.  They don’t come in the right sizes, but with careful sawing they can be made shorter.  A center punch and 1/2″ drill bit put holes where you need them.  They aren’t as easy to see through as normal windows, but at least some light can get in and you could tell if the shed is still there or not.  Our back kitchen window has a full complement of clear shutters, and each back set of french doors has a single clear panel.

Hurricane Boxes

Living in the land of sunshine can have its downsides.  One is the summers here.  It is still super hot here, though I think we are done with the 90+ degree days for the year.  The other issue is hurricanes.  I had a loose setup of batteries on an ups to provide 12V power for charging phones and whatnot.  It was kind of a mess and the batteries were pretty well shot.  Our most recent hurricane scare pushed me into action.

I wanted something more compact and organized with greater capability than my first setup had.  I am making two boxes to use as general sturdy hurricane supply storage.  A third box will house a deep cycle battery and have some tricks up its sleeve.  Everything is made out of either 1/2 or 3/4 inch plywood.  These all got assembled and painted at the same time I was building my bee cabinet.

Once the painting was complete I started assembling the battery box.  First I used cleats to kind of clamp in the battery a bit.  It can still move vertically, but I don’t ever plan on flipping the box over.  The charger goes in the back, with its cord coming out the side of the box.  A divider keeps most things away from the battery and allows for some storage space.  Next came a terminal block screwed to the roof, and a switchable panel voltage meter.  This will let me monitor the voltage during charging and operation.  Next came some 12V car power sockets so I can plug in all my accessories when I need them.  Finally I stuck some black plastic HDPE over the terminal block to keep anything from accidentally shorting.

Once I had that all wired up and tested out I put in a front divider to make the lower right area a storage bin of sorts.  It holds a 12V fan, inverter, USB phone charger, and a special LED light box.

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Speaking of light box, here it is.  I found some bright LED car lights that run directly from 12V.  They got installed in a custom box with switches and a 12V car plug.  Now I can plug these in and use either 2 or 4 lights to help light up a room during a power outage.

With all the innards assembled I put hinged doors on all the boxes and some beefy folding handles.  The battery box got a locking mechanism to keep the doors closed.  The battery box is really heavy.  To help with hauling around the house I screwed it to a small fold up hand truck.  This means that just about anyone can move it around the house without causing a hernia.

The two storage boxes are about 14 per side on the inside.  The size worked out pretty well.  One holds a pile of expandable 5 gallon water containers.  I figure instead of trying to buy water ahead of each storm or season, I can just bottle it myself right before a storm hits.

The other box carries a wide variety of odds and ends including solar cells and a charging circuit to charge the deep cycle up, candles, matches, other fire starters, soap and disposable bowls/utensils, playing cards, a weather radio, lantern, and other odds and ends worth keeping around.

Now that I have gone to all this trouble and expense to be really prepared, we probably wont have the power go out for many years.  Wouldn’t that be nice!