Oh Sandy

[ Author’s note: I completely forgot to post this a week ago. So enjoy two week old news :-/ ]

The last Sandy I knew the landlord I had who didn’t tell me the condo I was renting from her went into foreclosure. Nice lady.

But that’s a story for another time. This is my tale about another Sandy… typical lady, first hot then a cold bitch.

Tropical Storm Sandy. Hurricane Sandy. Frankenstorm. The Perfect Storm. Superstorm Sandy. Why is the media must label every tragedy, or more importantly, why do we let them? Frankenstorm? Seriously. And tropical storms do not barrel or slam or hammer or tear. They move quite slow as storms go, which is one reason they can be so devastating. But what is a good thing about their speed is that it allows us to have a better guess on which path they will take. The derecho that hit this area this past summer? That hammered. Tornados? They tear.

And while I am on the topic of natural disasters, I would like to make possibly an unfair comparison to earthquakes. See, I grew up in the ever-shifting grounds of Southern California. Most natives eventually grow accustomed to the irregular tremblers, but not me. I hated them. Still do. Yet a difference I have noticed between earthquakes and hurricanes while living here on the East Coast for nearly 14 years is the hype. Earthquakes just happen. No warning. No satellite photos. No guessing where or when. They just happen. Hurricanes have a lead up time of about a week. Obviously, for safety reasons, predicating where and when and how strong is a benefit and saves lives. But the flipside of that coin is the tremendous hype that comes days leading up to the actual event. Very much like how an impending snowstorm will unsettle the herd, hurricanes and predicated path at or near this area causes a quiet panic. People raid grocery stores, buy all the available water, toilet paper, and bread. It is madness and it is damn frustrating.

In many ways, the differences between these two events of nature are very much like sex. One is spontaneous and sudden, the other is slow, methodical and very much planned. In the end, either can be good or bad, but with earthquakes, there are no expectations to live up to.

Days before the storm, I watched and read everything I could about it. The wide-eyed boy scientist in me was fascinated by the implications that were being laid out from the perspective of weather science. Two low pressure systems were going to meet, one, a warm tropical cyclone and the other a cold Nor’easter. Take a windy, wet, warm system and combine it with a cold system and let the games begin. For added fun, throw in astronomical high tide and you got yourselves a party. I mean one storm was going to EAT another and grow fat and cause all kinds of trouble. How cool is that!? Yes, the devastation and loss of life is terrible. But from the view point of a meteorologist, it is a wet dream.

While most Washingtonians had two days off, I was at work. It is an election year and football season, so no damn hurricane is going to stop any broadcasts. And with the possibility of losing power, there was a genuine concern for certain critical systems within the facility. If the building lost power then it is not unlike shutting down the containment grid (see Ghostbusters). The two main video editing systems and two production floors had to stay up whether or not Pepco had us on normal power. So my boss rented a generator, had power lines run throughout the building for eventuality that we’d lose power. The emergency backup would give up enough time to switch over to the genie in the street. That was the plan anyway. Fortunately, we never had to implement it. Power never went out.

However, with the brunt of the storm arriving early evening on a Monday and lasting through the night, we couldn’t really leave. And with the Metro completely shut down for two days, I had to stay close to work that Monday night. So as it was, I spent that night in the Mayflower Hotel right across the street from work. In fact, I think half the damn bureau was there and the reason I could tell that because the hotel bar/lounge had most of them there that night.

Sandy was, as I expected, not much to behold… at least for us. I predicted wind and rain and that is what we got. Electricity did not go out as it had with July’s Derecho and life resumed to normal by that Wednesday. What I did notice was the sudden and dramatic drop in temperature. With the few tropical storms I’ve experienced, the warm temps never varied much, but with this storm things were different. By nighttime, the wind was howling and the rain was COLD. By knowing this was a hurricane and walking outside and seeing your breath was an unusual experience.

I do feel sorry for the people of New York and New Jersey. They were north of the storm and certainly were going to be on shit end of the stick. I couldn’t imagine being without power for over a week.

Below I have included some photos and a videos from my experience.

At least they kept us fed.

The generator parked on the street.

The rain and wind visible.

Blown over newspaper stand and empty streets.

More empty streets.

Our building.

The fun started at night.

Here is a video I shot in my room at the Mayflower. The window couldn’t close all the way or couldn’t seal, so I had to listen to this whistle all night. Click on the link to open the file.

Sandy’s noise

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