It feels good to be home in Vermont.
This weekend we were in New York City for a wedding. It was great to attend the wedding and see frields, but being in one of the world's largest cities while it awaited a massive storm was an odd experience.
People were going about their business yesterday, but they were talking. Some said it would be no big deal. Others were worried. No one really knew, of course. Sandy is following a track different from other storms that we know of, so even the experts watching the storm aren't sure what is to come. Online, people argued and bickered as they often do, with some dismissing the storm as insignificant, and others making ridiculous doomsday predictions. Some people even posted comments about this being the biggest storm that 'ever existed' - very unlikely considering the multi-billion year history of our planet's atmosphere. It's not the biggest storm ever.. but it is a big, weird, scary storm.
Last night I didn't get much sleep, for a variety of reasons. I laid and listened on an air mattress to the whistling of a breeze outside the window while sirens wailed. In most parts of Vermont you don't hear all that many sirens, though they were common in California where I grew up. I wondered if these New York sirens were related to drunken halloween party revelers... or to an early arrival of Sandy. As I drifted in and out of sleep, I wondered if the storm had come early and we would be trapped in NYC for the next few days. I wondered what the hurricane-force winds would look and sound like as they raged through the manmade canyons of Manhattan. Amidst fitful dreams I realized that if the subways filled with water, millions of rats would be forced to the surface during the storm.
It's a strange and hollow feeling being so far from home in the face of something so immense and unpredictable. During Irene we had to leave our home, and I spent a sleepless night wondering if we would find it gone in the morning. Before Sandy I had a sleepless night wondering how I would GET home.
Thankfully, the morning dawned cool and breezy and overcast, but with no hurricane. (There was really no way the storm could have gotten there so fast, but such things are hard to realize when half asleep). The subways were still running at that time (as of now they are closed.) We were able to catch our bus home, and moving north we outpaced the spreading, torn low clouds.
It's difficult to say what awaits New York City and the other big coastal cities, but confidence is building that a possibly historic storm surge will occur, and that the disruptions will be massive. This won't be like Katrina - New York City is not below sea level, for one thing, and the evacuation areas are narrow and can be walked out of. But the economic impacts of this storm will be large, and unfortunately it is likely that some people will lose their lives due to not taking the storm seriously or just to bad luck.
The wind is expected to be lighter here, but not by much - wind gusts above 60 miles per hour are not out of the question in Montpelier tomorrow night, with the peaks seeing gusts well over 80 mph. The wind will be a bit lighter in Burlington, but still significant. East Middlebury and other towns just west of the Green Mountains may experience locally stronger downsloping winds - perhaps over 70 mph.
This evening the clouds looked like a sheet blowing in a strong wind...
We've got quite a storm to get through here, but I do feel safer being at home. I'd better get some sleep tonight though. Tomorrow night the windows will be rattling, tree branches will be snapping... it will be another night of restless dreams and little sleep.