I’ve been a lot quieter here the last week or so than I’ve wanted to be, mainly due to a low-grade ick of some sort that’s been making me not much good for anything after 4 pm for the last two weeks. The old immune system seems to be kicking in, though, and forecast is good for the weekend at which point my poking at wasp nests and mispronouncing shibboleths will pick up speed again.
Speaking of forecasts, those of you who are among the 67 million people staring down the barrel of Hurricane Sandy may well want to take note of the calm, measured language meteorologists are using to describe what the first few days of next week may be like between Virginia and Maine:
A very prominent and respected National Weather Service meteorologist wrote on Facebook last night, “I’ve never seen anything like this and I’m at a loss for expletives to describe what this storm could do.”
Weather blogger Mike Smith has a pretty authoritative rundown of likely effects of Hurricane Sandy, and if you’re in harm’s way you’ll want to read his post. Just for the sake of preparedness, his recommendations for weathering the storm:
- Get prescriptions refilled now, especially if your doctor must approve the refill.
- Vote. If the stronger models are correct, power could still be out in some places on election day. Regardless, that is one less thing you will need to do. The election will not (and shouldn’t) be postponed.
- If you can get an electrician to install a generator, get it done. Do not try to install a generator yourself.
- If you don’t have a generator, get a power inverter or two. Radio Shack and similar stores sell them. They are a “poor man’s generator” and will keep your cell phone, laptop, and similar charged.
- Keep your car’s gas tank full.
- If you have a wood-burning fireplace and you know your chimney is clear, get wood. Keep some indoors to keep it dry during the storm. You may need it to heat your home.
- If you live in a 100-year flood plain (you can check at city hall or your library) or on the coast figure out your evacuation strategy now. Make your list of things you will take with you.
- Fill a few gas cans (the type you would use for your mower) to have extra in the event of power failures.
- Purchase extra staples. Without power, stores will be closed.
- Purchase booster batteries for your cell phone and other essential equipment. If you need insulin or other medicine that must be kept chilled make plans now.
- Consider what you would do if you were without electricity for a month. If you have an invalid living with you who requires electricity, there will be areas that will be without for weeks. Be proactive.
- If you live in a heavily wooded area, does someone in your vicinity have a gasoline-powered chain saw? Does it have fuel and a reasonably good chain/blade? Test it, now.
- Get to an ATM. Without power, credit card readers and ATMs will not be working. In a disaster, cash is king.
- And, if you are planning to travel by air to or through airports between Richmond-Boston Monday through Wednesday, forget it.
With any luck, this will all be way overblown — if you will pardon the expression. Then again, I recall the last time I saw meteorologists start losing their cool and saying things that were so incredibly frightening they couldn’t possibly have been real, as in this National Weather Service forecast from some years back:
DEVASTATING DAMAGE EXPECTED
MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS…PERHAPS LONGER. AT LEAST ONE HALF OF WELL CONSTRUCTED HOMES WILL HAVE ROOF AND WALL FAILURE. ALL GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL…LEAVING THOSE HOMES SEVERELY DAMAGED OR DESTROYED.
THE MAJORITY OF INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS WILL BECOME NON FUNCTIONAL. PARTIAL TO COMPLETE WALL AND ROOF FAILURE IS EXPECTED. ALL WOOD FRAMED LOW RISING APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL BE DESTROYED. CONCRETE BLOCK LOW RISE APARTMENTS WILL SUSTAIN MAJOR DAMAGE…INCLUDING SOME WALL AND ROOF FAILURE.
HIGH RISE OFFICE AND APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL SWAY DANGEROUSLY… A FEW TO THE POINT OF TOTAL COLLAPSE. ALL WINDOWS WILL BLOW OUT.
AIRBORNE DEBRIS WILL BE WIDESPREAD…AND MAY INCLUDE HEAVY ITEMS SUCH AS HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES AND EVEN LIGHT VEHICLES. SPORT UTILITY VEHICLES AND LIGHT TRUCKS WILL BE MOVED. THE BLOWN DEBRIS WILL CREATE ADDITIONAL DESTRUCTION. PERSONS…PETS…AND LIVESTOCK EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL FACE CERTAIN DEATH IF STRUCK.
POWER OUTAGES WILL LAST FOR WEEKS…AS MOST POWER POLES WILL BE DOWN AND TRANSFORMERS DESTROYED. WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.
THE VAST MAJORITY OF NATIVE TREES WILL BE SNAPPED OR UPROOTED. ONLY THE HEARTIEST WILL REMAIN STANDING…BUT BE TOTALLY DEFOLIATED. FEW CROPS WILL REMAIN. LIVESTOCK LEFT EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL BE KILLED.
That warning was issued the day before Hurricane Katrina made landfall along the Gulf Coast in 2005. Of course much of the actual suffering and death from Katrina resulted from engineering incompetence rather than directly from the force of the storm. Let’s just all be grateful that there are no badly engineered public works anywhere on the Eastern Seaboard, amirite?
Be careful and safe the next few days, friends.