Sandy – The Historic Unwelcome Guest
The last thing we expected, in a year full of the unexpected, was a late tropical storm, with a friendly moniker like Hurricane Sandy, making an unwanted appearance on our calendar.
For too many, it was an uninvited guest in our living room. For others, it came and went, leaving us in the dark, with fewer trees, and in return, left behind plenty of water – as in water, water everywhere.
You know, in Maryland, once the trees have begun to show-off their fall season colorful display, the days have started to get shorter, and the temperature leaves a nip in the air, one begins to think snow, ice, and winter – but not hurricanes.
We often associate hurricane season with unpleasant weather events that ruin the best of plans during the summer and fall months of June through November. Those of us who enjoy visiting the south during the summer have learned, in some instances the hard way, to keep an eye on the weather. Nothing can ruin a rare vacation – or even a writing assignment – worse than coordinating your schedule with the random vagaries of a hurricane.
We usually endure the wrath of hurricanes and tropical storms during the months of July and September. Once Labor Day comes and goes, we usually think that we’re in the clear; well, except for “nor’easters,” storms that resemble ‘winter-hurricanes,’ that form in the southeast and travel north.
The storm quickly caught the eye of many seasoned hurricane scientists who dubbed it Frankenstorm.
Writing for WJLA, Storm Watch 7 Weather Blog Eileen Whelan observed on October 23: “Hurricane Sandy is the 20th named tropical storm of the year. It was identified on Monday, October 22, 2012.” WJLA included in the article a National Hurricane Center graph that displays that for the last 100 years most hurricanes occur around September 10.
Newsday, a Long Island publication, noted in an article: “As Hurricane Sandy turns into ‘Frankenstorm’… Hurricane season lasts until the end of November. But ‘for Long Island, our peak tropical storm season is from late August to mid-September,’ said Brian Colle, a professor at Stony Brook University's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences…
“It's been 69 years since the metropolitan area was hit by a late-season hurricane. Sandy's expected turbulent merger with a cold front moving in from the west, and a southern dip in the jet stream from Canada, will make it a hybrid storm, an even rarer occurrence, experts say. The resulting storm, falling right before Halloween, has been dubbed ‘Frankenstorm.”
Newsday researched the National Weather Service, National Hurricane Center website for “Most Extreme Tropical Cyclones” and reported, “The latest hurricane on record is Hurricane Alice that was active through December 31st, 1954… From the time period of 1851-2010, November has had 66 Tropical Storms and 40 hurricanes; and the month of December has had 10 Tropical Storms and 4 hurricanes.”
Reuters reported on Monday that the storm would impact 50 million people that “were in the path of the nearly 1,000-mile wide storm.”
Unfortunately, although the storm made landfall farther north, the central Maryland area still found itself in the 1,000-mile, 50-million people footprint.
As the massive, shape-shifting weather force began to lumber toward us, federal, state and local governments, including the Carroll County Emergency Operations Center, swung into action early to plan and stay on top of the storm.
The Carroll County Office of Public Safety reported midday on Monday that “Hurricane Sandy strengthened a bit overnight, according to data from the NOAA NWS National Hurricane Center. Maximum sustained winds have increased to 85mph. Sandy is now being drawn northwest by a cold front and will make landfall in southern New Jersey late tonight before moving inland across northeast Maryland. A Flood Watch and High Wind Warning remain in effect until late Tuesday night…”
Other media reports later indicated that flooding would be a problem in the area through today and not dissipate until late in the week until almost 10” of rain finally goes away.
Early Tuesday, the Frederick Police Department reminded it citizens, “to be very cautious if it is necessary for them to drive a vehicle on the roadways during the storm. Of course, it important not to drive and to stay indoors until the storm has passed.”
By late Monday afternoon and early evening, much of Westminster’s and Carroll County’s roads were relatively empty and as the evening wore-on the emergency fire and police radio scanner reported many roads impassable from downed wires, trees and overflowing streams.
Similar reports came from Frederick. “For those persons that have to drive, please remember that there are hundreds of trees and limbs down throughout the City of Frederick and the surrounding area. Along with downed trees, there are also wires, some of which may be live wires that pose a very real risk of serious injury or death if contacted… many such trees and wires have not been reported or due to the sheer volume of these incidents have not been responded to at the time of this release.”
Fortunately, in the face of great adversity, once again much of the community has come together to look after one another. Hopefully, long after the hardships and the financial losses have lost their sting, we will remember that we came together to build-on the foundation of a sense of community out of the destruction and damage wrought by the unwelcome visitor, Sandy, the Frankenstorm.
. . . . .I’m just saying. . . .