The Northwest and the Puget Sound region in particular are famous for seeing a flake of snow and immediately clearing shelves in grocery stores and hunkering down in our houses, bracing for the worst. But, since we live in the Northwest, nothing particularly remarkable happens. Usually.
A few days ago, we started hearing rumblings of a windstorm that would rival the region’s 1962 Columbus Day storm, where wind gusts upwards of 80 miles an hour downed trees and power lines, and caused memorable chaos. My initial thought was, oh thank God, we’re finally going to have something to talk about besides the election. Though I don’t usually do this, I turned on the news last night to get the latest weather update. The storm, itself remnants of Typhoon Songda, was no longer going to rival ’62’s Big Blow, but it could reach the level of 2006’s Hanukkah Eve storm. I for one did not realize that storm had a name, but do remember it. We were out of power in our apartment complex for a few days, and I permanently marked our brand new kitchen table with purple candle wax.
This year’s “wind-pocalypse” was set to hit us in the late afternoon or early evening hours today, so I went to the store this morning and bought a big flashlight and an LED lantern. I was, so help me, “preparing,” just as the news suggested I do. Now, this might not seem like much. “Big deal, you bought a flashlight,” you might be saying. But I don’t believe in preparing for Pacific Northwest weather, because our local media has a tendency to blow things out of proportion. I already have flashlights. I already have candles. And surprisingly enough, my faucets are not electric, so I can get water from them even when the power is out. But that’s how bored I was. I watched too much news coverage, and I ran to the store like a lemming.
And then, come 5 o’clock, a few leaves descended from the trees, making their way peacefully to the soggy ground. Storm of the century.
There have been a few memorable weather events in the northwest, but none that I ever prepared for, and I’m still here. The most memorable was 2012’s ice storm. That one actually changed our landscape, when the tine of a three-tined tree broke off, leaving us with a two-tined tree. It was also memorable because our daughter was only four-months old, and we were struggling to keep her warm and heat bottles of formula under hot tap water. And nobody predicted that storm; no one even knew to be prepared.
Then there was that time a few years ago (sorry can’t remember and can’t find it online) when it snowed and it took Shaun 10 hours to get home from Redmond. That was pretty memorable. Especially for him.
And last spring we lost power for a day when a tree fell on a power line on our street. That was memorable for being the second time that year we lost power, and one of only a handful of times we’ve lost power.
Today was unremarkable and insufferably boring, but I’ll always have the flashlights to remind me not to take the forecast too seriously.