Friday, October 26, 2012


To my son Tommy,

They are calling it "Frankenstorm" and comparing it to the "Perfect Storm" that took down the Andrea Gail about 20 years ago, except this time it will hit land.  Many people are wrongly assuming that "Frankenstorm" is the nickname for Hurricane Sandy.  Hurricane Sandy is just one part (a major contributor but still only part) of a larger collision of about three weather systems.  We have an early winter storm coming in from the west and a large blast of arctic air coming in as a Nor'Easter and then good old Sandy fueling the whole thing like a never ending supply of kerosene for a bonfire.  I am not an official weatherman, so these "facts" are just my understanding from the various reports I have heard.  Judging by some of the reports I have seen and heard though, my explanation is as good as most.

Every generation in every location has their storm legends.  In Maryland, when I grew up I heard story upon story about Hurricane Agnes (1972) from my elders and every major storm we saw was compared to the destruction of that one.  That storm stayed as the measuring stick right up to Hurricane Isabel (2003) and Hurricane Irene (2011) and to this day still makes it back into the conversation.

Unlike hurricanes, blizzards are never named.  They usually just go by year (Blizzard of '96 for example) and people tend to forget the year of the event if it is not given a easy catchy name like Agnes or Isabel.  Consequently you usually only have to deal with stories and legends from the last great snowstorm in any area.  People will remember stories and events from past blizzards, they just talk about them more generally.  You will hear stuff like "I remember this one blizzard where we put on snowshoes and walked to the bar..." and if you ask them what blizzard that was they will guess and say "What year was that?  '95 or maybe '96?  I don't know".  Unless a name like Snowmageddon (Blizzard of 2010) catches on, the story will just be about the last blizzard and various bits and pieces of past blizzards.

Then you have thunderstorms, which can be just as bad but have less staying power as legend or lore.  We had one this year that it was lightninging so much, that I was ready to pull us all in the basement to cower and pray for our lives.  It ended up knocking out power to our house for over a week.  Snowmageddon by contrast only lost power for 2 days I believe.  Yet no one came up with a name or catchy title so it will fade into "One time there was this storm so bad..." type phrasing.

This "Frankenstorm" has already been fore casted to do about one billion dollars of damage and weeks of power outages.  It has tidal surges, rain, and even snow and is supposed to effect as far inland as Chicago.  All this and it hasn't even happened yet.  Got to love forecasting, educated (supposedly) guessing that when you are wrong, you just attribute it to some unexpected variable.  I think this storm has already been attributed with the end of the Mayan civilization (even though that happened over 700 years ago), the rapture, the alien landing in Roswell, and other such atrocities like the break-up of the FatBoys and the Osmonds.

Assuming I find power and internet connection, I will write to tell you if "Frankenstorm" is worthy of legend and lore and if you will be hearing about it for the next 30 years of your life.  Things are supposed to get spicy around Monday night and settled around Thursday, so I might miss a few blogs to you.  Or perhaps I will try this ancient technique of pen and paper to write.  A novel idea, I am sure.  I am off to find a quill and my iron gall ink before I head out to some home improvement store and grocery store to stand in line for milk and toilet paper as is tradition in Maryland.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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