Saturday, June 30, 2012

Weather: Welcome to Earth!

Back on line after a wicked storm passed through the DC area last night at about 10:30 pm. The heat index got to 110 yesterday, which is fairly dramatic in-and-of itself. Then last night: 80 mph winds, lightning, thunder, and driving rain for 45 minutes.


I admit, I find storms thrilling in the same way that huge waterfalls and twisty roads on a motorcycle are thrilling. You can put yourself on the edge of danger and feel the raw power. I tried to set up an observation post in the breezeway after > the electricity went out, and before < I realized just how strong the west wind was blowing. The wind covering me in rain spray and doused my candle.

Fortunately, my garage faces east. So I relocated, opened the garage door, set up a table and chair, lit some candles, popped open a bomber bottle of Dogfish Head Noble Rot, and settled in for the show. My little rescued barn swallows were with me, huddled tightly in their nest. My cats were safely inside, Mira on the window ledge in wide-eyed wonder and Chessie under the couch in wide-eyed terror. I commenced a-textin' to share the experience virtually, vicariously. 

Imagine the scene: 
  • Flickering candle light illuminating the door frame and the overhang, where the young birds are weathering their first storm.
  • The streets are completely dark, illuminated only by the frequent flashes of lightning. Several bright flashes per minute, each followed instantly by booming thunder. 
  • Winds were howling at 60 and gusting to 80, driving the wind nearly horizontally and bending the young trees in our new neighborhood.
  • While the battery slowly drains out of my cell, my tablet, my UPS, my VOIP base station, and my wireless land-line base station, the delicious beer slowly drains out of the bottle, the candles slowly burn down to the wick, and the violent storm slowly subsides. Eventually, the show was over, and I am blissfully off the grid.... 

Meanwhile, all around me:

  • Over a million people in DC, MD, and VA lost electrical power. 
  • The Metro was stalled, stranding thousands. 
  • At least 7 people in this area died from falling trees or power lines. 
  • Cell phones went out, which is to be expected, but even 911 service was knocked out. 
  • Sirens blared all night long, responding to traffic accidents on dark streets. 
  • The storm apparently took down Amazon’s cloud in Northern VA. The cloud there serves Netflix, Pinterest and Instagram, as well as other popular services. Didn't matter to me since my tablet battery was drained. 
  • Don Giovanni survived the night at Wolf Trap, our outdoor music venue. In the middle of Act II, as Donna Elvira was gearing up for her big aria, the lights began flickering, mirroring the storm, and then they abruptly died, leaving the young singer -- Olivia Vote -- and the audience in darkness. 

Some media coverage

Power was out in my area for 16 hours, just long enough for condensation under my ice bin to drip down into my half-empty tray of half frozen chicken stock cubes, which I dumped. I also poured water out of the bottom of my ice bin into a bucket to use on the basil and bamboo plants. We are conserving water because power is still out at the water treatment plant. By the way, when flushing the toilet during water conservation, the mantra is "If it's yellow, let it mellow."

All in all, I fared rather well.

It's just weather. Welcome to earth. Adapt and overcome.

Or not. 

  • You should have seen the hundred yard long line at the closest McDonald's with power!
  • Some of my neighbors actually moved to hotel rooms.
  • Several neighbors sat in their cars with the AC on to listen to news on the radio and recharge phones.
  • I showed one of my neighbors how to light his gas stove without electricity. Trust me, it CAN be done! Through the magic of matches... 

I got out of Saturday morning chores like vacuuming. I couldn't even wash my bike because of the water restriction. So, I took a nap and had a dream so incredible that I promise to write it down in my journal, which you will not be able to read until after I am dead. It was that good. I played with the cats, read some, and took another nap. 

It's predicted to hit 102 today, and more storms are forecast for tonight. Bring it, Mother Nature! The storm which does not kill us makes us stronger.