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A Perfect Storm

A Perfect Storm

I’m staying just where I am, thank you.

So how was your day?

My morning was spent watching the wind-driven water rise over our seawall, all the way to our house. This video was taken from our second-floor bedroom window. The dock straight ahead and not fully submerged is ours, our backyard runs from the dock to the house and was completely underwater with white caps. You can seen the patio furniture.

It’s by far the worst in the almost 7 years we’ve lived here, and the worst in memory of a neighbor who’s lived on the street 28 years, with the exception of hurricane Sandy. As with hurricane Sandy, which in Rhode Island was only a tropical storm, it was a storm of perfectly bad timing — an astronomical high tide in the cycle plus a wind pushing water up the bay with gusts heading right our way.

It’s a strange feeling having white caps just feet from your house. Fortunately, the damage was ‘relatively’ mild.

We’ve never had the crawl space flood, we have a sump pump to keep it dry from any rain and ground saturation issues. But the river pouring thousands of gallons into it swamped the pump in minutes. It took several hours of utility pumping to get the water down to a manageable level so the normal sump pump could be serviced and put back in service.

The good news is that the water never reached the living space, the rise stopping about 6 inches below the first floor. Had the first floor flooded even by a few inches, it would have been very expensive.

We don’t carry flood insurance. We dropped flood insurance several years ago because the cost was becoming exhorbitant. We were paying $3500 per year for only 90k coverage with a 10k deductible. So even with insurance, the first 10k was on us. We calculated that if we could avoid major flood damage for 10 years, the saved amount would cover moderately bad damage, particularly when factoring in the deductible. If we could get away with 20 years, even serious damage could be covered by what we saved. The likelihood of catastrophic damage — e.g. the house being knocked off its foundation or serious structural damage — is extremely low, since we are not directly on Narragansett Bay, so we never will get the type of storm surge you see hitting Florida coastal communities, or southern Rhode Island during the Hurricane of 1938.

Of course, this rare perfect storm was an excuse to, you guessed, predict that we’re all gonna die (or at least be flooded) in 12 years.

As for me, I’m staying just where I am, thank you. I plan to enjoy the boat more than ever this coming summer, and the grandchildren are getting old enough (barely) to come along.

[Yes, I let the wife drive the boat, occasionally]


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


William, you persevered this flood with droll detachment, much as you pilot LI. Wishing you minimal additional damage and a new year with the tide at bay, in all respects.

The Gentle Grizzly | December 23, 2022 at 10:10 pm

Zero degrees, headed into the minuses here at my bear-cave in NE Tennessee. Lots of wind, and if I lose power, no heat.

Stay safe, folks.

    We’re battling sub-freezing temps here in SE Oklahoma also. We do have a propane supply to run the stove burners and oven as emergency heat should we lose power. Our biggest concern is keeping the pipes from freezing.

      Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah!
      Wishing everyone good health, safety, shelter, peace and prosperity.
      Praying the new year will usher in sanity, integrity, civility, morality and righteousness in our country.

    Many coastal houses were built on what once was marshland or sandbars. Therefore it is not a surprise that occasionally mother nature tries to take it back. For example, the southern coastline of Long Island.


    Consider installing a propane fueled heater. They cost about $800 ish and you do need an installation. Unless your skill set includes putting a hole in the roof for the vent. Probably looking at $2500 total and it would heat about 1000 square feet. Use it for supplemental heating most of the time and as alternative heat source when the power goes down. That’s my next purchase here in south Alabama, this Arctic BS can pound sand, got enough of being cold in Germany.

      The Gentle Grizzly in reply to CommoChief. | December 24, 2022 at 8:54 am

      This place has one in-wall propane heater but am not sure if it is vented. It is also on the lower level where I never go.


        Here in NW Wyoming our temperature dropped from 35°F to -15°F in one hour when the front came through. The next morning our back deck thermometer read -35.3°F. We stayed below zero (Wednesday’s high was -12°F) for three days.

        Ran the wood stove all day on Wednesday to give the furnace a break; it kept the living/dining room/kitchen at around 80°F while keeping the rest of the house in the low 70’s. Smallest vertical-load Vermont Castings stove they make and I had the damper closed all the way down the whole day. I can really recommend them as efficient wood stoves.

        Blowing snow out of the driveway at -28°F that morning reminds me of “Aqualung”:
        “When the ice that clings onto your beard was screaming agony”.
        Yup, the condensation of breath on mustache and beard goes straight to ice, and I look like an yeti when I come in and it starts melting off.

        Today we got our typical WY gentle western breeze (25 MPH) but the temperature has gone up to 41°F. A beautiful day in the Big Wonderful.

          Tionico in reply to Blackwing1. | December 28, 2022 at 2:01 am

          I cannot say enough good about the Vermnt Cstings products, except te inevitable price increases over the years. I bought my firs in 1980.Used it almost daily (when cold enough to want heat) 2014, then bought the largest model (larger house, only source of heat) and it is still going strong. I’ve nevr had to py for wood, always find, salvage, blowdowns right on my property, scraps……

    NE Tennessee? Heck you should go down to Knoxville and introduce yourself to the good Professor Instapundit. He reads this blog. Heck, his overnite poster – Sarah Hoyt – basically bases her posts on all of Professor Jacobson’s posts here.

    Ace of Spades had good write up of what’s happening at the TVA— explains the rolling black outs perfectly.

    We’ve made two offers on houses this month around Johnson City. One in Gray and the other closer in. One is holding fast to their inflated price and the other was a motivated seller and we were too slow (damn- it was a good buy).

    Be damn sure we’re bringing our generator with us and getting the electrical panel swapped out first thing when we arrive.

Hard not to be jealous of a house on the water…. My place is on a small river,, but we have trout. (so I have been told)..

Miracles happen.. It is great to see that one happened for you.

I foolishly sold our lake property 2 years ago, a most beautiful place on a peninsula on the biggest fresh water lake in Tx.
We were at a point to build or sell. The taxes had tripled.
Should have built had plans to move near the grandchildren, and yet here we still are near Austin, buy lol I am on a creek. Filled with fish, turtles and black moccasins, which occasionally come into my yard.
My dogs killed one, a HUGE old Moc that should have killed them!
But they were smart, one pit grabbed him right behind the head so he couldn’t turn and bite , and the other tore him
In half

Not a way to go
Despite it being so monstrous.

And yes, rattle snakes, copperheads etc

But it’s the Mocs that get me.

I check my pool every morning, have had a few young snakes in it but so far not the Poisonous ones.

Wish I could go back and have that land, now
Couldn’t afford it anymore

Enjoy the water Professor, …

    CommoChief in reply to gonzotx. | December 24, 2022 at 1:05 am

    I definitely feel that. Got a nice bit of peaceful land with two multi acre spring fed ponds as part of my front yard. Very nice to watch the Herons, wood ducks and cranes. Less so playing occasional host to the water mocs. Went to get the leaves out my pool yesterday and stepped damn near on a one sunning himself on the concrete. He was hidden next to my pool vacuum hose I had laid out to try and unkink earlier in the day

      gonzotx in reply to CommoChief. | December 24, 2022 at 6:00 pm

      I have a resident black corn snake who usually lives ubnder my shed, I saw a huge rat in the shed a few years back but I thought I had taken care of the problem…. Well the 6 foot snzz as me told me otherwise. But don’t want to poison them Cayuse of the snake and traps are pretty inhumane, so he keeps the population down… a win win.
      He scared the crap out of a guy remolding my bathroom. People can jump amazingly high despite being middle aged!
      Hiding in those leaves, always the leaves.
      When I was a kid in Wisconsin we didn’t have to worry about Posion us snakes and we would build gigantic mounds and play in the leaves

      Not happening here in Tx.

      Now the Rattler
      who almost got me when I jumped out of the truck. A few years back, big around as my bicep and Jesus his rattle was so loud you knew he had lived a long time, that’s when I knew I could fly!
      My cat told me he was out there, he was an indoor outdoor cat and the great hunter of the neighborhood, but one day he refused to go out and would stick his head out moving his head like whiplash… I knew, just couldn’t find it till it found me.
      Tore all my bushes out after that.

        CommoChief in reply to gonzotx. | December 25, 2022 at 10:58 am

        Relatively harmless snakes like king snakes or ring snakes that aren’t poisonous to humans or dogs so I have a live and let live policy for those two. There’s probably a rattlesnake or two around but I haven’t seen them in the ‘yard’ and I make sure to make noise when I am in my heavily wooded areas.

        The water moccasins and cotton mouth are too dangerous and too aggressive to allow. I have a jihad on them so if I see them they get shot if possible. The rattlesnakes are not aggressive and usually move away if they can so I don’t try and hunt them out.

        Snakes play an important role in the ecology of my little piece of land. They keep the field mice and other rodents down and frankly as long as they leave me and my dogs alone and in the case of the cotton mouth and water moccasins if I don’t see them in the areas I regularly hang out or go to on my property I leave them alone.

unlike rattlers, mocs are aggressive and adept climbers–have to keep the back of our place cut short in order to see them–have had a couple of incidents when my lady was walking around barefoot and nearly stepped on a moc–killed them both but was a close call each time–nearly thirty years here and only one incident with a rattler

“A perfect storm”

A good metaphor for the current state of our politics too.

Yes, I let the wife drive the boat, occasionally

lol–taught my lady to drive a towboat and pull me through the course–a surfer, she had never been on a water ski so taught her to slalom rather than fool around with two skis–she took to both naturally, immediately

that was nearly thirty years ago–she’s actually become a better driver than i am and is the only one who pulls me skiing–we live about two hundred yards off the water–trust her completely on the water (or flying, for that matter)–her hand/eye coordination / depth perception is exceptional–she has that vital talent of thinking ahead of a car/boat/flying machine and reacting appropriately

let her drive more !

Do I understand that you were buying an NFIP policy with only a $90,000 limit? If so, there would be no coinsurance penalty, but there would be a coinsurance test up to the available maximum limit whose purpose would be to deprive you of replacement cost coverage. That is, a hefty deduction for depreciation (as figured by the flood adjuster) would be deducted from your cost to replace the damaged portion.

Glad you’re safe and dry, professor. Here out in the country on a gravel road in Eastern Iowa where I live, we had a 48 hour blizzard warning with subzero temps and sustained winds of 35 mph. Never lost power, but I was still glad to have a wood-burning stove in the living room. With a large glass door on the stove it is easy to doze off in the evening watching the logs burn and listening to the wind and snow howl and whirl outside.

Glad to read that there damage was minimal. You just gotta love the global warming, tho!

amatuerwrangler | December 24, 2022 at 10:12 am

SW UT here…. We had sub-freezing (20s) overnights last week, this week, mid-30s. NO precip. Any water would be greatly appreciated. I’m going to have to run the sprinklers late tonight (stealth watering) to keep the yard alive. Rattlesnakes and gila monsters, however.

11 degrees yesterday morning, not really a noticeable difference but has to be psychologically better than the -4 of last year. 24 this morning and next week we’ll get to 7o late in the week. Typical Texas Winter, a thermometer roller coaster. But I have friends experiencing lake effect snow for a few days now, so I’m not complaining. A wood stove, kerosene heaters and Aladdin lamps in case of power loss, drinking water and food put back and 24000 gallons of pool water to flush the toilets. We’re good to go. Didn’t lose power last year, the co-op buys power from the Comanche Peak nuke which operated through the cold (properly winterized here in northern Texas, the Houston nuke wasn’t and was off-line).

When I went to bed last night in Central NJ it was 7 degrees and windy. For the first time in nearly 40 years here, I learned that our 3-zone, baseboard, circulating hot water natural gas system was engineered to only raise the temperature about 60 degrees in such conditions. While that was fine, it came as rather a surprise to see the room temperature a couple of degrees below the thermostat setting.

The storm has been a bitch. It was -10F yesterday. It’s a tropical 11F today.

I put in a brand-new gas heater for the first floor of my 1885 house. It’s managed, with help of the oven, stay at 66F which is where I set it. Upstairs, with the guest room cut-off and supplementary 1500W free standing heater the old electric heat it’s barely keeping it to 57F.

I expect as the day warms up, it’ll finally get back into the 60s upstairs.

I can’t imagine what it was like back in the late 1800s when this house was built.

Salt water? Once the weather improves you might want to take a gander at what got wet down there. Steel bits might do with a rinse, any electrical connections opened up, dried out and redone with new connectors and dielectric grease. And check the sump pump and its connections too. Merry Christmas!

Stay well, everyone.

Don’t step in the global warming.

My Dad’s got COVID, one of my kids couldn’t fly in, we’re not going to be able to get together with the rest of the family.

But, we are all safe and warm, and Dad’s responding well to the early outpatient treatment the doctor failed to prescribe.

Here, just outside of Ithaca/Cornell, we had late day Thursday, some snow, 3″s, some rain, some wind, no outages yet what we did get and kept on hearing and seeing were the news clips from the mid-west coming eastward and mimicked by our local news was the same dire warnings. This reporting happening while outside the temp Friday A.M. was cold 7/8 degrees, we had just a smidgen of snow and with a light breeze and now today just being cold with partial sun and clouds. Now just this A.M are the forecasters services and locals stop beating their drum for a storm of mega proportions in our area and are now predicting a forecast of warming to 36 come Wed. Pretty much sounds like the same type of reporting coming out the current administration. All Blow/No Go.

Good to hear you’re safe, Prof J. Have a happy last two days of Chanukah.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair | December 25, 2022 at 12:59 am

I spent a year in Narragansett. I really liked it in the off-season. Did the Penguin Plunge on New Years … that day it was 5 degree air temp and the water was 32. It wasn’t so bad on the beach, but that first dive into the water (after waddling out in the surf) was a real surprise!

ThePrimordialOrderedPair | December 25, 2022 at 1:02 am

That doesn’t sound right. Maybe my memory on the water temp is incorrect … But it was coooold!

Are you saying you dropped the flood insurance but put the money in a savings account just in case? I support that calculation of what might happen vs likelyhood but if not then then doom on you.

Here in SWFL we are still fighting the insurance companies and FEMA for Hurricane Ian damage. I am told that FEMA is resisting putting trailers/temp housing on many lots where homes were destroyed because, you guessed it, those lots are IN A FLOOD ZONE and their regs say they can’t put temp housing in a FLOOD ZONE. Even though we just started the dry season and won’t get any measurable rain again for the next 6 months. Only the Gov’mint.

    Andy in reply to Sultan. | December 28, 2022 at 9:01 pm

    Florida is a mess for insurance. The contractor fraud is over the top. The state needs to step in. A lot of carriers are just leaving.

West coast had some serious high tide (king tide and then some).

Just checked it out this morning and a few older houses on the water were flooded.

Pt Townsend has some serious erosion issues on the cliffs and I’m betting a few homes were lost to the storm this time.