The "new normal"
By now, I hope everyone has had their power restored after Sandy blew through our area and wrecked havoc.
The media kept us fully informed about Sandy from the path she was following, to her intensity, the time frame of when she would hit landfall, and what to expect when she did hit our area.
So most of us spent last weekend "battening down the hatches," preparing for what was being called, "The Perfect Storm," "Frankenstorm" and "Superstorm Sandy."
Grocery store shelves were emptied of bottled water, bread, milk and other food staples that didn't require refrigeration.
Gas station lines were long as people filled their tanks and reserve cans.
And of course, it was the main topic of conversation everywhere.
I learned that no matter how prepared we thought we were, we're never mentally prepared enough.
The idea of being prepared can never match the reality of what a disaster leaves behind in its wake.
Who would have ever thought our Jersey shore would be devastated like Seaside Heights or Point Pleasant, or that a whole neighborhood like Breezy Point would go up in flames, leaving so many people homeless?
We here in our immediate area came out of this a lot better than many.
Oh, don't get me wrong. Being without power for even less than 24 hours was, well, let's just call it "inconvenient." And really, being without television for 20 hours was the only thing I missed most. So instead, we played Farkel by candlelight. We had stocked up on buckets of water to flush the toilets. We had bottled water to drink, to wash our faces and brush our teeth. We had our gas grill to cook. We have a generator that kept our refrigerator and freezer going.
Driving to and from work was a bit of a challenge.
I heard one comment on a news show from a firefighter that said "trees and power lines don't mix."
That appears to have been our biggest calamity from Sandy.
PPL had brought in extra outside help but it's been a long, slow process getting to all the trees and downed lines. There were just so many. Tuesday I got a glimpse of what they were up against. It seemed every road I traveled I had to make a detour because of fallen trees.
My most sincere thanks to all those who worked tirelessly to get our power back and our roads cleared. Also, my deepest thanks to the emergency personnel and fire company volunteers who gave their time and energy to keeping us safe and helping wherever they could in getting us back to normal.
Normal. I love normal. But on Tuesday night, I heard a new phrase in connection to the weather from Brian Williams on Rock Center with Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel.
Brian Williams asked "What's causing this 'new normal?'" Jim Cantore said, "What we're seeing in the atmosphere, Brian, especially at the high latitudes, are what we call these blocks, or these traffic jams, and they're big, and they're having impact on storms, and they're having impact on weather. You can never blame a single weather event on climate change, but these signals that we're seeing, that are changing directions of systems coming out the tropics, like Sandy, are something that have us scratching our heads and wondering, if this is the 'new normal,' we are in for a lot of trouble down the road ... I mean, you don't need a 100 years of data, let's just take 30 years…the climate is changing clearly, and what you can say is, if we are going to continue to see these signals, we are going to continue to see extreme weather events, one right after the other, whether they be tornadoes, droughts, floods or hurricanes."
You got to admit, we have definitely seen some major weather changes here in our own little neck of the woods.
How often do we talk about the winters of our childhood when the snow was so deep that we made snow caves and we were able to sleigh ride all winter long. Now we get one snowfall with maybe six inches. Winters use to be so cold we could ice skate on our ponds and lakes all season long. Now, our winters' climates are fairly mild and those same ponds and lakes never completely freeze. Don't get me wrong. I hate winter so if this is a sample of a "new normal" where winter is concerned, that's all right by me.
Then there's spring. Or, lack of. Lately, it seems we go from cold right into hot humid days, with very little springlike weather.
And summers ... I swear they get hotter, drier and more humid every year. Which now bring tornadoes our way, something else we've never experienced in the past. I don't want to wake up one morning singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and finding the Wicked Witch of the East's striped stockings underneath my house.
So, if this is that "new normal" Jim Cantore was talking about, and we have to start worrying about battening down the hatches during Hurricane Season, I'm going to scream, stomp my feet, raise my fist ... and live with it. I'd consider moving, but according to what Cantore said, sooner or later, every place has to adjust to changes in the weather. It's ... normal.