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Posts Tagged ‘tornado’

Yesterday, Bart asked me if I’d ever heard of a derecho before. Evidently he’d heard on the news that the severe storm was forecasted for our area on Thursday. I had to go read about them and learn what the fuss was about. A derecho is basically a line of storms with damaging, straight-line winds and heavy rain with the possibility of producing hail and tornadoes. I’d never heard of such a storm before I moved to DC, but initially I learned about them by hearing of the one that occurred at the end of June in 2012.  The storm ripped through the area, downing trees and shutting off power to huge chunks of the city. Then it got ridiculously hot in the following days, making for some uncomfortable and dangerous conditions for many people without electricity. Nevertheless, I was having a hard time getting very worked up about them. I mean, I’m from the south. I know about thunderstorms…big deal. I don’t do tornadoes, but thunderstorms I can handle.

When I woke up this morning, I had a federal government operation status update in my email. I was a little confused, as these are usually reserved for real, serious weather conditions that threaten the ability of government agencies in the area to stay open for the safety of the workers. You know, in case of a foot of snow and such. The status was open, but with the option for unscheduled leave or telework. I peeked out the window, and I certainly didn’t see any cause for all this alarm. Big deal.

When I got to work, I received an email stating that we were being allowed 59 minutes of early dismissal leave to accommodate the adverse weather conditions. And by adverse I mean that I might have even seen a peek of blue sky after lunch. I’m starting to think people here are a little antsy about weather. Nevertheless, I never complain about getting to leave work an hour early.

I headed out about 3:00 with this alleged storm approaching southern Maryland imminently. I stopped by the post office to mail a package and pulled into my garage somewhere around 3:45. I was in the house for about two entire minutes before I looked outside to see a wall of water coming at us–rain being blown completely sideways in sheets and trees bending over to the ground. There was an utter deluge for about three minutes, and then it stopped. Well, I thought, that was impressive, but kind of short lived. Is that it? Then our power went out.

Sure enough, that was the extent of the storm here in Maryland. Just a few minutes of crazy wind and rain before it passed; maybe not enough to be a full derecho but close. While it didn’t last long, we quickly realized that the aftermath was quite significant. With the power out at home, I couldn’t fix any dinner. We decided to venture out and see if we could locate any restaurants with power anywhere. It wasn’t long before we saw the extent of the damage.

The metro area is chock full of beautiful trees and ugly overhead power lines…it’s almost guaranteed that power is going to go out when a storm goes through. There were downed branches everywhere, and in a few places we saw where multiple trees had blown across the road but had already been removed by county and city workers who are no doubt trained to expertly handle these situations. The power outage also meant most traffic lights were out, making rush hour traffic even more heinous. We even saw a huge billow of smoke south of us, but we had no idea what it was; we did see plenty of emergency vehicles as we slowly made our way into town. Hopefully that situation turned out okay. We also got an alert that there was a confirmed tornado spotted just to the northeast of our town. Did I mention I hate tornadoes?

We managed to make it to Rockville Town Center, where half of the streets had power and half didn’t. Fortunately, a couple of restaurants were open, and we had some burgers and walked around a bit before heading home again via an alternate route. Our power was still out, but I’m very thankful to report that it came back online a little while later. We were out for about three hours, which was better than I had feared.

All in all, we may not have had the full blown derecho, but the aftermath was still quite significant. Despite my skepticism of the severity of the storm, it proved to be worthy of respect and consideration. I’m thankful that we had minimal impact from it and hope others did as well. Maybe this will be the extent of significant weather for us this summer.

Wait a minute……our lights just flickered again! You can’t be serious…..

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