Tropical storms and monster blizzards did not concern me when I first moved to Washington. My chief concern was that someone would stab me because I didn’t have any money to give them, and that I wouldn’t have any money to give them because everything was so crazy-expensive.
My fears did not come true. As I turned out, I should have feared the weather after all.
Hurricane Isabel was certainly an attention-getter for me. It hit in 2003 and although it was only tropical storm strength by the time it got to D.C., whole parts of the area that I thought were immune from flooding were suddenly under water. That included a neighborhood Safeway. I later found out that the Potomac River, which is at least a mile away from us and 100 feet or more lower in elevation, got within six blocks of our house.
But that was freakish, I decided. There had only been one other tropical storm to affect the area in the previous 50 years, so I decided I couldn’t make decisions based on this truly unusual event.
Only it wasn’t so freakish. Since Isabel, we’ve had at least three monster snowstorms, a tropical storm, another hurricane and a derecho last summer that probably caused more damage than any of the other events. We also have had a serious of brutally hot summers, capped by last summer’s hotashell event.
I now wonder if I live in a world where I can expect a truly frightening storm every few months and an endless series of weather extremes. I had to sleep on the couch in the living room Monday as Hurricane-or-whatever-it-is Sandy rolled through. There was no way I was going to sleep in my bedroom, which is perhaps 10 feet from an enormous maple tree.
But Sandy, as it turned out, wasn’t as troublesome here as some other recent storms have been. It pretty much crushed New York City and a big chunk of Jersey, but we merely got a good clipping. Still, I’ve been clipped enough to last me for many years.