Hurricane in dc

29 octubre 2012

I am more than ever grateful that I got here yesterday, and so uneventfully.  It was a tranquil drive, only a bit of light rain as I headed south over the Maryland state line into Delaware.  It lasted for about half an hour and traffic moved rather more slowly … but then it all cleared up and I even thought I saw some thin sun peeking out as I got onto the Washington Beltway.  I arrived in time to drop my bags at M***’s and return the rental car.  By this time it had begun to rain.  It was a very light rain, more like a drizzle; but the wind driving it was uneasily strong.

M*** had gone to Baltimore to see her family and help a friend with a planned studio show.  We’d already agreed on how I’d arrive and stay here Sunday night, she would go directly to work Monday morning and we’d hook up this evening for dinner.  But it was not to be ...

In the morning I had the bright idea of going over to National Airport to inquire in person about my return to Mexico on Wednesday.  This wonderful small airport, which I adore, is right on the Washington Metro’s Red Line and M***’s apartment is a couple of blocks from a stop on that line.  Fortunately, just as I was heading out the door the PBS station to which M*** has her radio tuned let me know that the entire Washington metro system is closed! 

Once I found out about the airport and other closings it was around noon I started thinking that maybe I’d better lay in some provisions, just in case.  M***, being a working gal and not much given to cooking, has little in her kitchen.  Plus, I was crazy for exercise; having spent virtually all day yesterday on the road.  So I carefully considered how to dress, grabbed some bags, and set forth to the local Safeway.  I’d decided that I wanted to make lentil soup and a tortilla de patatas, a tortilla española: comfort food for a storm.  It took two trips to the supermarket and one to the wine-store, but an hour and a half later I arrived, triumphant and pretty damp, with all the necessary ingredients.

While I was walking back from the first trip, M*** called to say that she was stranded in Baltimore: all trains between the two cities had also been cancelled. 


It’s around 5pm, and they are saying on PBS that more than 10,000 flights have been cancelled over the Atlantic seaboard.  DC’s National airport is still open, apparently, but the radio says it is empty, as are all train stations up and down the Atlantic coast.  The reason, apparently, is that there is great concern about loss of power: there will be winds of up to at least 50 miles per hour.  Around 4pm there was already a tree, and power lines, down somewhere on 14th Street.  The boardwalk at Ocean City (Maryland) is basically under water.  The high tide and the full moon may well combine to make this strange storm even worse.  The wind is picking up more now, at 5:30pm.  Further north, on the DelMarVa Peninsula, the winds are already very high now.  The wind is pretty mean here, and it’s raining more heavily now. 


The lentil soup is made, a glass of wine is close to hand.  So far there is power: in this neighbourhood the power lines are underground.  Friends out towards Arlington with whom I talked a little while ago already had a rather large tree come down outside their house, and now apparently their power is a tad spotty although still there.  Fortunately the electric company came almost immediately and were able to clear the branches from the power lines.  There are some 8,000 homes without power in the DC area as of about two hours ago … this one, so far, not among them. 

They are predicting that the worst will be done, here in DC, by the wee hours of the morning. The radio just said (ca. 9pm) that the worst of the storm has now entered the DC area, with winds of up to 50 miles per hour.

I just went outside and the wind is definitely picking up.  Not so much rain as in Baltimore, from M***'s description, but jiminy it is blowing hard, and it is cold!  Now at 9:30 pm I hear that the causeway to Chincoteague Island --the place of the horses-- in Maryland has been reopened.

How lucky I am to be here, snug as a bug in a rug as they say, in the home of a friend with food and drink to hand.  I think of the mariners at sea and pray for their safe arrival to port.  Something like this, at night out there in the empty ocean, must be terrifying beyond belief.