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Haunted by Sandy Frankenstorm

Published November 03. 2012 09:01AM

The Great Storm of the Century arrived just in time for Halloween.

It was special. Even the name was special.

As you know, most storms have only one name, such as Irene or Lee. But this one was different. It was so dynamic they called it Sandy Frankenstorm, and then referred to it as a superstorm.

Experts called it a hybrid. That means they'd never seen anything like it.

It was a hurricane combined with a nor'easter, both of which collided with a cold front coming from Canada, and all of that supercharged by a full moon. It was enough to make a witch re-stalk her broomstick.

National news media hyped this meteorological event like no other.

This was the biggest weatherfront since Dorothy and her entire house were swept from Kansas.

They say it affected one-third of the country.

"We're looking at impact of greater than 50 to 60 million people," warned Louis Uccellini, head of environmental prediction for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Jeff Masters director of Weather Underground, predicted the storm would be bigger than the worst East Coast storm on record - the 1938 New England hurricane known as the Long Island Express, which killed nearly 800 people. High winds impacted a geographical area of over 800 miles.

The storm is so big, and the convergence of the three storms so rare, that "we just can't pinpoint who is going to get the worst of it," said Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The storm lived up to expectations.

The wind was especially strong. It felt strong enough to lift houses like that tornado in Kansas. But it's good it didn't happen. I don't think Oz can accommodate all of our houses at one time.

The power went out in places and Atlantic City was evacuated. The boardwalk was pulled apart. Manhattan subways were shut down hours before some of the tunnels began filling with water. Sadly, there were deaths, too.

The experts said we needed to stay home. But in the next breath, they gave us contradictory advice.

They said we needed to run out and buy batteries, generators, food and water, and to fill up the car with gas.

So we needed to stay home yet we needed to go out and get prepared. No wonder people were confused.

Any storm is serious and, in this case, experts predicted a coastal catastrophe. Record high tides, record high waves and river flooding inland. And it happened.

There's nothing funny about a storm like this. But humor is a good coping mechanism. And so I chuckled at the suggestion that this was the most water our region had seen since Noah. The frankenstorm wasn't as bad in our area as predicted. But it lived up to the hype. If you think it didn't, then you probably weren't among those who went without power for days.

Interestingly, America's electrical delivery system is still the same as the 1890s, especially in rural areas and small towns. We use old telephone poles and copper lines that are weather-dependent. You'd think it'd be considered a national security risk of some sort. In any case, I hope the recent weather isn't typical of a new storm pattern due to global warming, melting polar ice caps, Mayan curses or whatever. I don't want any part of it.

I'm going to fill up the hot air balloon and get out of here. This whacky munchkin is heading off to Emerald City. It's safer there.

There are fewer things to worry about in Oz. Okay, maybe one cranky witch who avoids water because she melts. And a few lions and tigers and bears. Oh my.

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