Monday, October 29, 2012

Batten Down the Hatches!

When you make your living by the land, you have to take notice of the weather forecast.


Well, that headline got our attention.

This picture made us sit up and take notice.

The multiple high wind warnings gave us even more cause for concern.

After the Derecho experience in June, any mention of wind has this area on high alert.  This is not without cause.  A lot of damage still remains.  The “widow makers” (broken trees that have not yet fallen) will cause power outage and “issues” for some time in the future. The winds associated with a tropical storm, hurricane, or in this case, a possible re-play of “the perfect storm” of 1991, are always a concern in the higher elevations of our beautiful Shenandoah Valley.

I realize it sounds odd to say “higher elevations in the Valley”…isn’t that the ultimate oxymoron? 

We are near the edge of the Valley…close to the Allegheny mountains.  Sitting at an elevation of about 2,000 feet above sea level, the weather here is often far different than the weather conditions in nearby Staunton (1395 ft)  and Stuarts Draft (1410 ft).  We often spend a day being socked in by fog and clouds while the surrounding lower elevations are sunny and warm.  We generally have cooler temperatures year ‘round “out here”.  While it is an amazingly beautiful place to live, it does come at a price.

Remnants of hurricanes have struck the Valley with disastrous effects on many occasions.  Remember Camille in 1969?  Fran in 1996?  Isabel in 2003?  There have been others, but those specific storms still stand out in the collective memory of the residents.

Of all the various weather elements, WIND is always our biggest concern.  If I've said it once, I've said it a million times “VIEWS, VIEWS, VIEWS” is just real estate lingo for WIND….WIND…WIND!  We are not nestled in the Valley.  Nope, we are perched on the top of the hill…clinging on for dear life it seems sometimes. With multiple hoophouse structures, the wind is a constant consideration. Nothing like seeing the side of the  hoophouse waving at you in the wind.While I love this place and hope to be here ‘til I die... I absolutely hate the wind!

WIND in the forecast means we make a trip to town for gasoline.  We are fairly self-sufficient in other aspects, but it is essential that we keep our generator running.  This time of year we have small layer chicks that need warmth and light…in addition to that bank of freezers stocked with meat and vegetables that would be lost should we lose power for any length of time. We absolutely cannot afford to lose any of those things for they are our future income.

We know the wind preparation drill all too well. Loose items are secured, the hoophouse doors closed tightly, chickens and gates latched securely, flashlights and candles assembled, some water set aside…and then, we wait. The chilly temperatures meant that the Boss stocked the woodbox, too.  In case of a power failure, which we are thinking is almost a certainty, we won't be cold and we will just cook camp-style for a while.

We know that any damage in our area will be just an inconvenience in comparison to those along the coast.  They will be in our thoughts and prayers as the storm finally makes its anticipated landfall. The newscasts contain frightening words such as “mass transit shutdown”, “devastating damage”, and huge storm-surge”.  I shudder to think what it would be like to be in a big city with this monster storm bearing down on the area.

Presently, the forecast is for a couple of inches of rain and wind between 35 and 45 mph, gusting to 60+ mph.  There have been rumors of snow flurries. We've seen this sort of weather a number of times in the past. It doesn't seem to warrant the media hype, but you never know. We’ll have to wait and see what things look like later in the week after the storm.

For right now….Batten down the hatches, ‘cause the wind is gonna blow!

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