Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Weather PTSD

Earlier this week was the three month anniversary of Hurricane Sandy's landfall in this region.  All week, my local public radio station, WNYC, has had stories about the storm and its continuing aftermath.  Down the street from my house, a home partially destroyed in the storm is finally being repaired.  In my neighborhood, recovery is happening.

Even so, there is evidence of the storm everywhere I look, from the stumps of downed trees to the piles of brush and brambles.  There are downed trees in the woods around me.  In the evening, as I turn on the lights with ease, I sometimes pause and remember the cold and darkness of those days last fall.

Last week, it was freezing cold.  This week, temperatures kept warming.  Yesterday, it was in the 50s and this morning we had a humid day with temps near 60.  My neighbors and I, bringing recycling bins in from the curb, stopped to enjoy a chat in the evening's unusual warmth.

As we agreed that the warmth felt lovely, R, a native to New Jersey, pointed out that this kind of warmth in the winter never ends well.  He's right, of course.  Right on cue, there are wind, flood, and hazardous weather warnings for the overnight.  A powerful cold front may bring us as much as 3 inches of rain in 12 hours, rain that can't possibly be absorbed by frozen ground.  It's expected to be accompanied by gusting winds of up to 60 mph.  There's yet another risk of power outages, both because of the threatening weather and because many of us are using power lines that are still awaiting permanent structural repairs from last fall's storm.   PSE&G, my amazing local utility, sent out tweets and e-mails to remind us of their emergency response measures.  I am charging my cell phone and the other electronics.  I filled my car with gas.  My emergency supplies are in order, as they always are these days.  I'm not expecting a problem, but neither am I ever inclined to take risks or take things for granted.  I am prepared.  And that is the residual effect of Hurricane Sandy, a kind of low-level vigilance that Mother Nature demands these days.

Thursday morning update: For a few hours in the middle of the night, the storm was quite windy (of the sustained 40 mph variety).  Naturally, that led to sleeplessness on my part.  But I awakened to a home with electricity, for which I was grateful.  Cable and internet are out and JT is not amused.  I am more sanguine and just glad that most of the storm is over.  This morning's winds are less fierce and the rain has mostly stopped, though winter has returned.  It was 58 degrees when I got up at 5:30 am; right now, at just after 8 am, it's 46 degrees.

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