It's the calm before the storm here in Myrtle Beach, SC, a sunny, hot and humid day that saw just a few people strolling aside an increasingly dark and foreboding Atlantic Ocean.
Heeding the evacuation orders for people living in three contiguous zones, many have headed north or west hoping to escape the storm's expected wrath, leaving local streets and roads deserted.
We live just outside those zones, and so we were not required to leave and chose not to. However, at the beach this afternoon we met a couple who were basking in the sun watching the surf.
"Will you be here tomorrow?" I asked jokingly.
"Well, we live just across the street so we probably will be." the man replied.
"I guess you decided not to evacuate," I said.
"We never do," he said. "We've been through a lot of hurricanes and we're still here."
Really! I've been worried about living maybe four miles from the ocean. They live just across the street. So, if they're not worried, I'm not either.
All day long the Weather Channel and other news sources have tracked the storm, warning residents to leave town and "seek higher ground." The problem with that advice is the massive size of the storm and its changing direction, making it difficult to decide where to go.
As for higher ground, our house is about as good as it gets. It's not exactly hilly here. But, at least it's not at sea level and it's across the Intracoastal Waterway, so storm surge from the ocean will not affect us.
The major threats for us are the wind and heavy rain combined with the expected duration of the storm. A few of our neighbors have boarded up their windows and doors, but most have not. A month after we moved here we weathered Hurricane Matthew, a Category 2 storm. Florence has been downgraded to Category 3, with expected sustained winds of 120 mph.
We're hoping the storm loses some of its force before reaching us, of course, which is supposed to happen tomorrow evening. Then we'll just hunker down and ride it out -- and hope that we do not lose power.
Our plan is to try out a couple of recipes from Food & Wine magazine, eat some of Jackie's famous baseball-size meatballs, watch some movies, drink some wine and listen to the power of the storm.
Meanwhile, look at the serenity of the ocean this evening. What may come is nearly unimaginable.