Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Keeping an Eye on Hurricane Irene

There are a lot of things I could write about. I could chronicle the feel of fall in the air, our quest for a new cooler, various and sundry animal antics, or take a tour of the gardens. But, I can’t think of anything but Hurricane Irene. I find myself checking the track whenever NOAA updates the forecast.

While we are MUCH too far inland to worry about a direct hit from a hurricane, the Shenandoah Valley has seen its fair share of drama from storm remnants over the years. Does anyone remember Camille of 1969? Fran 1996? Isabel 2003? (to name a few) Winds, flooding, mudslides, and power outages followed tremendous amounts of rain. Human beings, homes and livestock were lost in a number of cases.

They said that Isabel was still a category one as it ripped over the Valley. I remember sitting in the living room with Tom and the girls…the total darkness broken by a few flickering candles and a flashlight…watching the walls of the house shake. I do not even want to imagine what it felt like along the coast. We lost power, had more rain than the rain gauge could measure, and lost some shingles. It was the only time during our Market baking days that we did NOT have bread.

Each check of Irene shows a slight variance in the track, and evidence of an ever growing storm. While the west side of a hurricane doesn’t generally get the most wind, that is also the side that gets the most rain. Presently, we are to get rain some time Saturday, although there are no current forecasts as to amounts.

While rain is good, necessary, and we find ourselves praying for more of it quite often, all the other issues surrounding the remnants of a hurricane cause us a great deal of concern. From past experience, we know we need to make some sort of preparations. We will track the expected arrival time for stormy weather in our area. That may, or may not, affect our Market plans for the day. While we would never consider missing the Market due to inclement weather, Tom does have a “rain mode” set up plan. Stormy weather will definitely limit the number of other vendors and customers who will venture out.

Copious amounts of rain will also affect the gardens. Tomatoes will split open with too much rain. Potatoes are difficult, at best, to dig out of mud. If rain is combined with wind, all our work may end up a flattened mess. The hoophouses cause concern any time wind is in the forecast. Then, there are the animals. We must consider their safety as well.

Last, and definitely not least, I think of those folks that will face the direct landfall of the hurricane. Our concerns for our farm pale in comparison to the worries of coastal dwellers.

Time to check the weather forecast again…the weekend promises to be “interesting” if nothing else!

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