Saturday, April 13, 2013

In which I learn about hurricane names...

"What does it mean when they say they retired Sandy?" I was looking at a story on the Weather Channel website.

Maddy, my person, looked over my shoulder. "I knew they would. It means that the storm was so bad that they won't use the name for another storm again."

I looked at the computer again, "John-John said it was bad here, but not as bad as it could have been."

"We were incredibly lucky. We got a lot of wind, but we didn't even lose power." She looked thoughtful. "I've been in storms that were scarier because of lightning, which we didn't have with Sandy, and I've seen winds like that before, but never for that long. That storm was huge. And the week leading up to it hitting, not knowing what would happen or just how bad it was going to be, was really stressful, to say the least." She looked at the computer. "Not too long after it made landfall, we had this huge convective squall come through. It was all that was left of one of the massive lines of storms that had been around the eye of the hurricane. It didn't have any lightning or thunder anymore, but the wind..."

"It was just this constant scream, louder and louder. It wouldn't die down," John-John said with a shudder. "We heard a tree come down, but couldn't see where it was because it was dark, which only made it worse." He went and got something off the top of the hermit crab tank. "This is the smallest part of a branch that hit the window and almost broke it." John-John is seventeen inches tall, so you can see how big it is.

"The tree we heard was in the neighbor's yard across the street. It didn't hit anything except the ground," Maddy added.

"We had the gas lines after the storm, though," Shel said.

"Gas lines?" I was thinking pipelines.

"Lots of places had no electricity for days and even a couple of weeks. That and so many roads were closed that even the gas stations that had power couldn't get deliveries. So gas was in short supply. Even though we're well north of the hardest-hit areas, we still had problems. From the Wednesday after the storm through about Sunday, if you needed gas you had to wait and wait and wait in line at one of the few stations that had any." Maddy herself had waited in line for almost an hour to fill up her Rogue. "Of course, if I had just stayed calm and sat tight for another day and a half, I wouldn't have had to.The worst was over by Sunday. But I didn't have any way of knowing that on Friday afternoon." She shook her head. "We got less than an inch of rain from the storm. Usually we get the rain more than the wind."

"Do we get them a lot?" John-John looked apprehensive.

"We get the remnants of them, but usually not the really bad part," Maddy reassured him. "Usually we just get rain and a little wind." She looked thoughtful. "The first one I remember was Belle, back when I was about five or six, I guess. I remember it was all that was on the news and all the grownups were talking about. I don't know what I thought it was, but I thought it had to be something epic, some great entity from - wherever. Something big and powerful and Lovecraftian, you know? Yog-Sothoth or Cthulhu or something like that. I remember being a little bit bewildered when it turned out to be just rain and wind. Then about five or six years later, we got hit with what was left of Hurricane David, and ended up with a snow day, so to speak, for the second day of school. When we got brushed by Bob in 1991, there had been an attempted coup or something like that in Russia that same day. So when the Emergency Broadcast Signal went off on the radio we had where I was working at the time, everyone thought for a moment that it was a nuclear war starting. It turned out to be a flood warning." She looked around at John-John and Shel's puzzled looks. "It made sense at the time."


ps - if you're interested in learning more about hurricane names, here's a good place to start:
NOAA - Tropical Cyclone Naming History And Retired Names

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