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September 18, 2004

Posted by Teresa at 08:00 AM * 67 comments

The heavy weather just arrived. It had been predicted for c. 0600, but I woke up to nothing more than damp sidewalks and a gray sky.

A couple of minutes ago, we had some preliminary rolls of thunder, nothing much. Then lightning flashed overhead. Then it did it again.

Now the rain’s coming down in sheets, and we’re getting three and four lightning flashes in a row. It occurs to me that our new home is just downhill from one of the highest points in Brooklyn.

How is it where you are?

Note: Mike Fitzgerald, all’s well here as of 8:40. We’re getting a bit of runoff from the front area and rather more runoff from the garden, but the drains are handling it, and the basement is dry.

Update, 10:00: I spoke too soon. Shortly after I posted the foregoing, our television let out several beeps and advised us that we were now under a flash flood alert. Then the rain really came down.

That was impressive.

I went downstairs. In the basement, we had water coming in at the foot of the stairs to the back yard—not coming down the stairs, but leaking down from the top of the doorway. Naturally, as soon as it hit the floor it headed straight for the nearest stack of book boxes.

Buckets. Towels.

While Patrick moved the boxes, I put on a rain poncho and headed for the back porch, where standing water was getting deeper at an alarming rate.

Here’s the setup: the area directly adjacent to the back of the house is paved, and is a couple of feet lower than the rest of the yard. Then there’s a retaining wall broken by two sets of steps, a paved walk that goes around the yard a couple of feet in from the fence line, and a second and higher retaining wall six or seven feet from the back fence. Under normal rainfall conditions, runoff comes down the steps from the two ends of the walkways, and vanishes down a drain set into one side of the paved area.

Unfortunately, leaves and other bits of yard waste kept blocking the drain. I first tried using a push-broom to clear them, which didn’t really work, then scooped them out by hand, which sort of worked only I had to keep doing it over and over again, and the water was continuing to accumulate. So then I had Patrick hand me down my restaurant-gauge pasta strainer from the kitchen, cleared the leaves one more time, and slapped the strainer mouth-down on top of the drain. It worked. I was relieved.

The weather’s clearing now. Relatively speaking.

Comments on Ivan:
#1 ::: Jen ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 08:16 AM:

Southern Ohio got rain Thursday night-Friday afternoon, and then the temperature plunged twenty or so degrees. It's in the mid-50s at the moment, lovely damp and cold.

#2 ::: Bill.Blum ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 08:19 AM:

We didn't catch much of the remains of Ivan here in the Dayton area... in fact, Wright-Patterson AFB became one of the temporary homes for military aircraft being evacuated from southern bases.

Since I work in a building that's under the direct approach path, it was like my own little airshow for a 3 day period.

#3 ::: Ginger Stampley ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 08:25 AM:

Ahhhh, tropical thunderstorms. Reminds me of Houston, what with the lovely thunder and lightning here in Jersey.

Too bad the friend who has been staying with us has to set off driving to Florida in it this morning.

#4 ::: Adrienne Martini ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 08:28 AM:

We're only five-ish hours west of New York City, but it has been raining here since yesterday (Friday) morning. It seems that a cold front and Ivan met up near Tennessee and decided that both of their interests would be advanced more effectively if they made an alliance. It's supposed to stop by this (Saturday) afternoon. We shall see.

On a side note, the hub, the baby and I were supposed to fly to Tallahassee on the same day Ivan made his unwelcome presence know. Glad we decided to err on the side of caution -- and that the airline let us change our tickets without any penalty.

#5 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 08:49 AM:

Raleigh-Durham had several microbursts yesterday, including one that did a lot of damage at our airport. I work right next to the airport in Triangle Park, so we also got a lot of interesting weather. Everybody in our building was pretty much useless for the last hour or so of the work day, because the weather kept changing so dramatically that we kept stopping work to watch for a few minutes here and there.

The clouds were awesome. They were moving fast, but not all at the same speed, so you could really see them move in front of and behind each other. It was like watching a time lapse clip, only a smidgen slower. And sky kept changing colours, from Maxfield Parrish blue to Turner blue, and back again. Once, at lunch, it was raining while the sun was shining and the clouds were distant, which is lovely and a little eerie, but then the clouds moved in, and everything got super dark.

We also were on tornado watch but didn't see any, which is good. The windows were a little vibrate-y, so I was nervous about it, but nothing happened.

#6 ::: Kass Fireborn ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 09:05 AM:

Pittsburgh flooded. Well, okay, not all of it. Just bits. A lot of bits. And then there were the mudslides. My house is currently enjoying the decorative fad of wet plastic sheeting and water-filled buckets, and in one case a tub, but considering some (relatively) nearby people were stuck on their roofs and something like 100,000 people in the area are without power, we got off fairly lucky (I'm thankful my suburb is on high ground). We're not really prepared for this sort of thing (sure, the Point regularly goes underwater during Winter and Spring, but that just adds character).

#7 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 09:08 AM:

We're just east of Toronto and we're enjoying lovely sunshine with a chilly 8 degrees Celsius. I'm originally from Oklahoma, though, so I miss violent weather. The wind, the rain, the thunder, the lightning, the tornados...Oh, how I miss the days when I was a little kid and the tornado sirens would go off, getting us out of class to go sit in the hallways with our heads between our legs...Now I just get harsh Ontario winters. (sigh)

#8 ::: Vernieda ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 09:12 AM:

The Washington DC Metro had a fun time last night full of tornado watches, tornado warnings & flash floods. The immediate area did have funnel clouds form and a couple touch down, but the worst was more south in Remington, VA. That was where the first cell hit; everyone further north had more warning to prepare and duck for cover. Flights at Dulles, National & BWI weren't taking off & I'm assuming they weren't landing either. I knew a few airplanes had to be evacuated because a funnel cloud touched down near Dulles. The footage they were showing on the news was insane.

There was also a fire at one of the smaller airports when lightning struck one of the airplane hangers.

#9 ::: Bob O ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 09:15 AM:

Albany (NY) is on the northern fringe of the weather: we're getting the Canadian cold front AND the tropical rainfall: 53 F and 2" in the last 24 hrs.

It's remarkable that we're using all this technology to talk about the weather - but with people all around the country instead of with the people next door.

#10 ::: Melanie ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 09:27 AM:

Flooding rains, tropical temps and humidity since dinnertime yesterday in DC, heavy electrical storms as I was metro-ing home late last night. This morning, gray, windy and more rain, 65 humid degrees.

#11 ::: Maureen Kincaid Speller ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 10:06 AM:

Bob O observes: It's remarkable that we're using all this technology to talk about the weather - but with people all around the country instead of with the people next door.

And not just around the country ... I appreciate being able to log on from the UK and check that my friends in the US are safe, and to read about their experiences. It really is a small world these days; in some ways I like that.

#12 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 10:12 AM:

I'm in Boston, and woke up this morning to winds and heavy rain slashing down outside. It's slowed just now, but the radar's making it look like we'll be getting heavy rains on and off for the rest of the day.

No Ivan-related flooding here in my neighboorhood. Of course, we had the flooding in the Central Artery tunnel, but that was something else entirely.

#13 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 10:27 AM:


Right after writing that previous comment about how nothing's flooded in my neighborhood of Boston, I went down to the basement to put in some laundry.

It's flooded. (Yeah, only partially, and the only stuff I had down there was on palettes, and I'm a tenant, so it's not a problem for me so much. But the timing was rather... apropos.)

#14 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 10:40 AM:

Baltimore had thunder, lightning and heavy rains starting about 11 pm last night (friday) and now in the am, it's still raining but not as hard.

#15 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 10:40 AM:

Just to add a note about Pittsburgh -- there was no damage in my
neighborhood (that I know of. Gonna go take a walk soon and check.)
However, we did have the amusement of flooded highways to the north,
east, and west of the city. The route to the airport was closed by
rush hour. I was lucky -- no flooding between my office and my
apartment -- but my 20-minute drive still turned into 90 minutes,
because I was going *parallel* to a major avenue which got rockslid.

It doesn't take much to trip up a city.

#16 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 11:08 AM:

The Weather Channel's showing footage from the Pittsburgh area: six inches of rain in a naturally flood-prone area. The results look pretty gruesome.

The footage from North Carolina looks to me like the kind of stuff you get when the people with the really good amateur videos are stuck on the other side of two floods and a washed-out bridge.

Maureen, I've been thinking about your stories about that amazing flood you had in your neighborhood.

#17 ::: Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 11:39 AM:

I was on one of the airplanes in line for takeoff at Dulles last night when the funnel touched down, somewhere around 6 p.m. We'd been waiting for a while on the taxiway, with rain getting heavier, when the pilot announced that airport ops had been shut down because of thunderstorm activity, and that tornados had been reported south of the airport, headed north.

I started looking out the window: very low clouds, sheets of rain, intermittent high winds. There was enough water on the taxiway that for a while the intake suction of the engine nearest me was generating a nice little waterspout.

Then I noticed a bulge in the underside of the clouds on the far side of a 777 (I think) that was waiting in line parallel to us, perhaps a quarter mile away. The bulge grew and turned into a wide, squat funnel. Just as I was about to say something to the passengers next to me, the pilot came on and said, "There's a tornado west of us; you can see it out the left side of the plane."

I couldn't tell if it was coming toward us or moving away; it wasn't moving across my field of view at all. The 777 blocked my view of the actual touchdown point. The view through the rain was hazy enough that I couldn't really see the rotation, but the shape of the funnel changed from second to second, so there were obviously very high winds.

Apparently they shut down all ramp operations when the tornado occurred, so the planes out on the taxiway just stayed there. I wasn't too worried in a big plane (757), though maybe I should have been, but there were some little commuter jets in line that must have had *very* nervous passengers. The pilot did say we might have to move at any time, and told the flight attendants to stay seated.

I saw a very bright greenish flash over the top of the 777 -- I assume the tornado took out a power line or something else electrical -- and a bunch of cloud-to-ground lightning strikes near the funnel, including one lovely strike of three parallel bolts, one after another, starting near the funnel and moving out.

The green flash apparently was too much for someone in the tower, because the planes in line started heading back to the terminal. The 777 pulled out of the way, and I could see the whole cloud, but it was far enough away that I still couldn't see the actual touchdown point, although I did see a couple of smaller flashes near ground level. Finally we started rolling and turned toward the terminal and I lost my line of sight.

We sat on the ground at the terminal for almost 4 hours. There were apparently storm fronts both east and west of the airport, and although they started operations once the tornado ended, they were sending out flights with very long spacing, and only ones headed north and south. They finally found us a route around the storms and let us take off at a little after 10 p.m., a bit over 5 hours after our scheduled departure.

One final irony: while we were waiting in line for takeoff, before the tornado, they started the in-flight movie: The Day After Tomorrow. So our actual tornado hit just about the time the TV screens onboard were showing giant tornados trashing Los Angeles....

#18 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 11:40 AM:

I have to wonder if there's been a rush on these.

More seriously, is there anything other than donating to the red cross that those of us in unaffected areas can do?

#19 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 05:53 PM:

I moved to Portland, Oregon from Baton Rouge, Louisiana some seven years ago and probably the only thing I miss about the south is hurricane season.

We get our share of rain and wind in the winter, but it's just not the same...

#20 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 06:02 PM:

It's remarkable that we're using all this technology to talk about the weather.

Just wait till we can use it to do something about it!

Good Morning Rich Forigen Person.

I am DOCTOR WORSEL TREGONSEE of Scamovia, Yuaitbeendere, where all is Sunny and Brighht All The Time. I am in trust of over Two Years of reserve Sunny Days which our Beloved Benevolent Despot has saved for a Rainy You Know What, which I hope to smuggle to less fornicate but richer nations...

#21 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 06:18 PM:

Jordin, the tornado you saw was in Centreville. I mentioned yesterday that we had a tornado at the Manassas Airport (about 25 miles south of Dulles) and fortunately, it mostly got trees. Leesburg Airport had all their planes in the hangers, too, but lightning hit a hanger and one plane was destroyed and another damaged.

All that happened right here by the condo was simultaneous lightning & thunder and lots of rain. We didn't lose any trees.

We had a flash flood watch for the county yesterday, but my part of the county is sufficiently high that we'd need apocalyptic-level rains to flood.

#22 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 06:25 PM:

Xeger, I just hang a kneading-tub from the rafters in the attic.

#23 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 07:46 PM:

I work in one of the really tall buildings in New York (9 W 57 St), on the 48th floor, weekend overnights. At about 7:45 AM, we noticed that the sky was dark, except when the lightning flashed, and the thunder was both loud and long.

I love thunderstorms, and this one was beautiful from that vantage. Taking a short break, I went to our north lobby, which has an unmatched view of Central Park and Manhattan going to the horizon. Just as I got halfway to the wall of windows that makes up the north face of the lobby, I was nearly blinded by a clear flash of light BELOW me and off to the right (reflection suggests that it was Central Park East, maybe in the 60s or 70s) and a simultaneous blash of thunder that kept up for somewhere upward of 30 seconds.

Glorious, if one didn't have to be out in it. (I was fortunate; my subway -- the F line, heading to Queens, was both running and had a station at the end of the block; it's two blocks to home from my station, and there was something of a lull at both ends when I was outside.)

And now, let's see if I can get to work on time :-)

#24 ::: Darice ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 09:28 PM:



This article from the St. Petersburg Times is about places to give help, either through donations or volunteering. I'm sure that the major newspapers of affected cities throughout the storm's path will have similar lists.

(Since my hometown was pretty much wrecked by Charley, I thoroughly appreciate each and every one of them for what they've done. Volunteers from a variety of groups helped to clear away the debris from all the trees that fell around my parents' house, and have helped my grandparents as well.)

#25 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 10:29 PM:

What Thena said, mostly:

Portland (and the Bay Area) are sorrowfully short of thunderstorms. I like lightening and thunder. It's raining now, but it is flabby lazy rain. Bah.

I'm waiting to hear how my parents, who live in rural Sullivan county in upstate NY, are making out. After the last hurricaine whipped through, they got three feet of water in the basement, and they were lucky. Several homes up the valley from them were damaged or simply washed away.

#26 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 10:31 PM:

Atlanta: our bad day was Thursday. Took me two hours to get home from work, driving through several patches of foot-deep water. (The Prius handled this much better than I would have expected.) Then found the house had no power, because of a tree down somewhere else in the neighborhood. Cooked dinner outside on the grill, in the rain, and read by candlelight all night. Power came back on late Friday morning.

The Friday commute was one of the best I ever had. The weather had started to get better, but nobody was on the roads. And today was just beautiful.

Sorry to hear there's flooding so far north. I'm flabbergasted by the staying power of this storm.

#27 ::: Sarah Prince ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 11:51 PM:

Our forecast was for only showers, only as far north as Ticonderoga; but here near the highest point in New York State we got half an inch after all. However Frances left 2.8" while I was decompressing from worldcon in central Massachusetts, watching shower after mild shower and merely deciding to sleep with the spiders and cardboard boxes in an attic rather than in my ratty little tent.

#28 ::: Christina ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 03:24 AM:

I've heard multiple civic leaders say lately that Pittsburgh's greatest economic resource is our fresh water surplus, but this is ridiculous.

Andrew said:
my 20-minute drive still turned into 90 minutes, because I was going *parallel* to a major avenue which got rockslid.

Yep. In Pittsburgh's hilly terrain, most of the major roads run along the valleys, right next to the creeks; so of course they're the first to flood as all that water tries to get to the rivers. The major roads that run along the sides of hills get hit with mudslides. If you're standing on flat ground in Pittsburgh, you're right next to a river. (Or at the mall, on a levelled-off former slag-heap.)

My neighborhood stayed high and dry too, but whole business districts have been wiped out, and "hundreds and hundreds" of people have lost everything. One person is believed to have drowned. The communities that had water up to the roofs were mostly former mill towns, close to the rivers, and largely blue-collar. It's heartbreaking.

God must not hate Pittsburgh as much as NYC, though, because he still hasn't sent the plague of Republicans.

#29 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 05:16 AM:

Oddly enough, there's hurricane-related weather in Arizona, too. Hurricane Javier is off Baja, and the monsoon flow is peeling off moisture from it and pulling it into the state. Heavy rain is predicted for Sunday, though not nearly as heavy as Ivan's.

#30 ::: Maureen Kincaid Speller ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 08:47 AM:

Re: blocked drains, cascading floods ...

We had a cloudburst here a couple of months back, and suddenly deep water was rushing past the back door and into the drain in the conservatory, and backing up because of all the crap it had washed in there; easy enough to scrape that out, but the waterflow just wasn't abating. As I slopped round to the back of the house in this raging torrent I discovered that the kitchen drain (shared with our neighbour, whose student lodgers have a poor relationship vis-a-vis drains and bacon fat) had chosen this moment to block and that all the water which was coming off the roofs and into the gutters and down the drainpipe was coming straight back up again.

So yes, that was me standing out there in the pouring rain, soaked to the skin, with my super-duper home-constructed (broomstick and circles of plastic tarp) industrial-size plunger, unblocking the drain. I reflect that it is cheaper and less damaging than calling a plumber and waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting, but really, I could use less fun in my life.

Let's hear it for the pasta strainer as drain cover.

#31 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 10:44 AM:

Interesting how disaster movies tend to be shown on board vessels and vehicles at the time of a disaster. They were showing The Poseidon Adventure on the Titanic when it struck the iceberg.

#32 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 11:48 AM:

Yes, and they were having a John Woo festival on board the Maine when it blew up in Havana Harbor.

John Woo movies were really popular in 1898. Not many people know that.

#33 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 12:07 PM:

Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were listening to the soundtrack from "2001" on their iPod... But their computer experienced glitches on descent and they couldn't get good streaming video.

#34 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 12:10 PM:

But seriously:

Natural disasters 'on the rise'

More and more people are being caught up in a growing number of natural disasters, a UN agency said on Friday.

The International Strategy for Disaster Reduction said the increase in numbers vulnerable to natural shocks was due partly to global warming.

It said 254 million people were affected by natural hazards last year - nearly three times as many as in 1990.

The assessment comes as the Caribbean and the US are being hit by a series of devastating hurricanes.

#35 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 01:02 PM:

There's another weather expert out there, says this is cyclical. We'll have a few more years of this kind of hurricane season, then we'll go back to hurricane seasons like we had in the '90's, with the occasional Andrew.

North Carolina is bizarrely sunny and warm today. It was rather windy yesterday, but it's calmed down. Biltmore Village in Asheville flooded again, as did the area around the French Broad. Several deaths and destroyed houses, but the flooding wasn't as bad as with Frances. Most businesses managed to stay dry with sandbags and pumps.

We lost electricity Friday, it came back a little after noon, and it's flickered a few times since then. I understand it was out a few hours this morning, but I slept right through it.

Water pipes are doing just fine this time around.

As for me and mine, we had to go downhill to see most of the impact. We're high up enough that we never even had to think about our basement, and sheltered enough that all the trees are still standing. A bat had an unfortunate end against my neighbors' apartment at several miles per hour, and another neighbor left out their American flag to be eaten, but that's the only sign in the neighborhood that Ivan stopped by.

Other than the howling wind and driving rain at 2 am Friday.

#36 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 01:51 PM:

How deep does the water in your basement get? Would it be better (for Patrick's back, at the least) to put the book boxes up on pallets?

(And I was going to suggest this even before G. Jules noted that her own basement stuff is on pallets. Great minds...)

Here in Metro Phoenix, occasional rain and lightning yesterday afternoon and evening. Some strong winds about flattened the amaranth around the backyard laurel. (I scattered a packet of mixed flower seed around the tree's base for low-growing groundcover a few months ago, and am still scratching my head about the bunch of giant amaranth that came up.)

Walking the Corgi last night, between showers, the clouds had broken up and scattered for a while, and were low-lying enough to reflect the city's light more strongly than usual. Big flying islands of eerie luminescence, against the indigo-black of the night sky. Quite odd, and quite lovely. Made me think of Van Gogh's Starry Night

#37 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 03:11 PM:

Well, yes, all that about the -Titanic- and -Maine- is true, but the -Marie Celeste- was running an Ed Wood retrospective. No causal link has ever been conclusively proven.

And don't get me started on the Thera Multiplex.

#38 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 07:15 PM:

And don't get me started on the Thera Multiplex.

Wait, wait, don't tell me! Joe Versus the Volcano

#39 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 07:17 PM:

"Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were listening to the soundtrack from "2001" on their iPod... "

Ten years from now, some kid doing some last-minute Google research for a paper due the next day is going to find that, and eventually hate you for writing it.

#40 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 10:33 PM:

You got lightning? All I got was a 30-minute traffic jam caused by a plugged drain on Storrow Drive (where heavy traffic is \not/ expected at 1pm Saturday). OTOH we didn't get flooding either (unlike a previous storm where water was coming out of the drain in the basement sink...). I think I'm just as happy to settle for a quieter weekend -- and hope the commute tomorrow will also be quiet; the river today was close to the top of its banks and the nearby Mass Pike underpass is still dripping heavily.

I grew up in DC, and frequent summer thunderstorms are about all I miss. I can't understand missing hurricanes -- getting a safe vantage point for a thunderstorm is a lot easier than getting one for a hurricane -- but everyone has the gout (IIRC, according to the same book that translated "Cave canem" as "Beware! I may sing!").

#41 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 10:58 PM:

I never went to the Thera Multiplex. I went to the Antikythera Multiplex, because they show more antihero movies. "Mention My Name in Atlantis."

My wife, son, and I went to "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" and loved it. I was the first to spot a typo in the credits ("Addtional" for "Additional") . Then my son spotted a "supervsion." Do the hostess and host of this blog find themselves doing that?

#42 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2004, 01:16 AM:

There are some pictures of the flooding in Pittsburgh, along with other news, here:

Here in beautiful downtown Weirton, 35 miles west of the Point, we had somewhere between five (the total in Pittsburgh) and eight (the total in Wheeling) inches of rain Friday. The ground and streams, already very wet from a rainy summer, culminating in the visit of the remnants of Hurricane Frances Sept. 8 (which left over three inches), couldn't take much more.

At least one of the Pittsburgh TV weather people noted that this is so far the second-rainiest September in local history, and we've only had rain on two days this month! But the total rainfall from those two days is about ten inches.

Oddly, after nearly 54 years in this region, this is the first time a flood ever personally affected me. I am *very* lucky -- I only had to move my car, help move stuff out of harm's way at work, shop at a different store than I had planned to after work (the other one was closed due to flooding in *their* parking lot), and change out of wet shoes and slacks when I got home. My house is near the top of a hill, but our hillside did not suffer from mudslides, like so many did, and my house and yard are unscathed.

(Sorry, I didn't have any gin so I couldn't change out of my wet clothes into a dry martini. A cold can of Coke made a nice substitute though!)

And our library got flooded. Well, the garage and parking lot did.

At two p.m., after lunch, I'd parked in our back parking lot where I usually do, but by three my boss warned me I'd better move it: the creek, which is a block away normally, had moved up the street and was beginning to engulf our lot. Also the lot at the Catholic church and school across the street, though the lot between the rectory and church, which is a little higher, still seemed dry. But I moved to the parking lot near the community center on the other side of the library, because it's on higher ground. (This is West Virginia, folks. Things on hillsides get terraced, so a next door neighbor can be higher than you are.)

By four, water was leaking under the library's garage doors; we had to move some things into the hallway, on a slightly higher level. These were mostly boxes our computers came in, which we had kept in case we had to return them, and some donated books we hadn't sorted through yet. But some were new computers we've bought but not installed yet!

I hope we got enough stuff out of the garage. The water was still rising when we left at 5. By then the whole area around our parking lot and back door was flooded. And that apparently dry lot near the rectory? There was one car there -- I assume it belonged to one of the priests -- and it was in water above the wheel wells by 5 p.m.

This is getting long, so I'm putting an expanded version of this post on my Live Journal. If anyone wants to read the rest, it will be at

#43 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2004, 06:47 AM:

CHip - I grew up in S. New Hampshire and now live in DC, and whenever we get a summer thunderstorm here, I am always disappointed by the fact that it doesn't get markedly cooler and drier afterwards. New England thunderstorms conditioned me to expect the nice high-pressure front to come whooshing in after the storm! Instead, it just gets more muggy and oppressive...

But I have to admit, the summer thunderstorms are lovely while they're happening.

#44 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2004, 10:46 AM:

Rain, rain, rain. This is nothing. Try living in Manila between June to October of, let's see-- oh, any year. Which was actually an improvement when I did live there because I grew up in the mountains, where we had twice as many rainy days as Manila.
I have heard/read ruminations that weather has been more extreme in recent years because of the accelerating effects of global warming. Anyone feel like making a case for or against that?

Hurricane Javier is off Baja, and the monsoon flow is peeling off moisture from it and pulling it into the state.
Oh, I wonder if it's related to the Bicol Javiers :P
(Feeling sillier than usual today).

#45 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2004, 11:17 AM:

"My wife, son, and I went to Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and loved it. I was the first to spot a typo in the credits ('Addtional' for 'Additional'). Then my son spotted a 'supervsion'. Do the hostess and host of this blog find themselves doing that?"

Constantly. Which doesn't stop us from making typos of our own. Error is endless.

#46 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2004, 12:19 PM:

I was looking at a poster for Ice Pirates that was hanging in the office of one of my boyfriend's co-workers, and noticed that Ice Pirates had "special affects".

#47 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2004, 12:50 PM:

That wasn't a typo, Piscus.

An elite team of facial contortionists trained the actors to assume a variety of . . . oh, it's too early on Monday for creative BSing.

#48 ::: Vernieda ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2004, 01:09 PM:

Mayakda: Ah, but you forget I've been to the Philippines for extended periods of time as well. My first trip was when I was 8, and a typhoon hit the province where we were staying. Way to make a first impression.

#49 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2004, 02:33 PM:

Janni had Javier fun this weekend — she was camping with her Girl Scout Troup, up on the mountain, through a couple inches of rain and frequent nearby lightning.


#50 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2004, 06:48 PM:

Patrick/Teresa (re noticing public typos): I'll guess you at least are well-mannered about it. In the Noreascon 2 GoH book, Wilhelm noted that Knight edited incessantly, even books that were already printed and on the shelf; she said she was just waiting for the day some visiting author checked the household's copies of their books and found that Damon had been there first.

#51 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2004, 07:21 PM:

Flooding in Pittsburgh is an odd beast.

When you think of the rivers in Pittsburgh, most people from outside of the area probably think about the three rivers around Point State Park in downtown. Now, granted, Point State Park did flood fairly spectacularly on Saturday, about the worst I remember seeing in nearly 9 years. But the flooding in the downtown area was limited to the park, 2 roads and one large parking lot. It was really not much, as impressive as it looked. No permanent damange was done (aside to some pleasure boats).

The serious damage in the Pittsburgh area was to the low-lying areas next to creeks (or "criks" as people call them here). Between the hills and the criks, a number of criks rose rapidly and destroyed several hundred homes in various places in Western Pennsylvania, and damaged thousands of others.

We live near the top of a hill, and other than getting soaking wet waiting for extremely late busses on Friday, had no real damage. Then, Jim and I went to MidWestConstruction for Saturday and Sunday. We later heard from Leslie that there was no water at our home for most of Saturday.

#52 ::: Allen Baum ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2004, 09:33 AM:

I seem to be coming to the discussion too late as usual, despite getting soaked by Ivan in Manhattan.

Basements can flood even in Northern California; El Nino winds bring both fire and floods, dessert toppings and floorwaxes.

We had a particularly heavy rain, and I checked our basement when I noticed that I couldn't hear the sump pump running. After I waded through 18" of water, I lifted up the pump and found out it was running - that's how fast the water was coming in. That one cost me a new water heater.

My experience taught me:
- don't use garden hoses on sump pumps; those pumps are backpressure limited before they're volume limited, and skinny garden hoses are a real choke point
- Get a water sensor. If water starts to collect in the basement, it buzzes upstairs. I found mine on the web for $10-15.

#53 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2004, 10:53 AM:

Scientists Gain Glimpse Of Bizarre Matter In A Neutron Star

"... They said their best estimate of the radius of a neutron star is 7 miles (11.5 kilometers), plus or minus a stroll around the French Quarter. The mass appears to be 1.75 times that of the Sun, more massive than some theories predict. They made their measurements with NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer and archived X-ray data...."

Could it be... a neutronium Alligator sausage? This story also relates to the strange units of measurements given in the mundane press (weighs as much as 17 blue whales, over one thousand Eiffel towers tall, less than the power of a housefly's wingbeat...).

#54 ::: Lisa M. Prysock ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2004, 12:58 PM:

Thank you for the entry on advice for writers. John Scalzi referred those of us who aspire to write to check this out. I've written two study guides and a bottomless box of incomplete works. As my children grow older I'm finding more time to pursue this dream once again. In the meantime, I try to read advice like yours and do what I can to prepare for success.

I must add that your journal seems to ooze left but I've still enjoyed my stop to visit your journal and believe in freedom of expression. I'm a right wing and am so glad we went to war. We were hit so awfully hard by the events of Sept 11th, along with almost everyone I know. I think the war was inevitable. George Bush walked into a mess and has done a remarkable job all things considered. If the terrorists blew up your family and friends wouldn't you want to go get 'em...and anyone directly associated? It's so obvious that we went to war for more than looking for weapons. This was retaliation of the highest kind... and a country held captive by this sick leader... and George handled it so well. I have a gut feeling my great grandfather x5 who signed the Declaration of Independence would have been proud.

Well, nice to have met you and I have enjoyed your view points. We just survived Charley followed by Frances. Now Ivan comes back around with cold rain and wind... but not as severe as on the way up. Were you able to save anything in the basement? Blasted weather we're having!

#55 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2004, 03:42 PM:

If the terrorists blew up your family and friends wouldn't you want to go get 'em...and anyone directly associated?

Well, yes. So why did the US go after a country, and a ruler, who had nothing to do with it? Saddam Hussein is a nasty bastard who deserved to be taken out, and *should* have been taken out years ago. But he had nothing to do with the attack on Sep 11. In fact, he was on the hitlist of the people who did plan that attack, because he ran a secular Muslim state that didn't tolerate radical Islamic nutcases.

#56 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2004, 04:02 PM:

Also, you might want to go back and see how Saddam was treated by previous administrations -- involving many of the same folks now working for GWB.

In 1991, GHWB didn't finish the job (pointing out that it would lead to an occupation and all the attendant difficulties), and didn't support the revolutionaries that he encouraged either.

In the 1980s, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" and so we not only didn't discourage him from attacking Iran, we had folks like Don Rumsfeld shaking his hand and selling him dual-use equipment (hey, just because the helicopters were ordered by the Ministry of Defense, that doesn't mean we're supplying their war effort).

(Of course, the reason we supported him against Iran was because Iran's revolution had knocked out another of our friendly dictator types...who'd been put back into place with the help of Dwight Eisenhower.)

#57 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2004, 04:55 PM:

*Ooze* to the left?! I'm stepping firmly to the left.

(And yes, I do think we should go after the people who caused 9/11 -- so what the heck are we doing in Iraq?)

#58 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2004, 06:03 PM:

I'm a right wing and am so glad we went to war.

Glad? I can't imagine going to war with anything but a sense of necessity. Are we glad that we fought World War Two? Glad that we defeated the Axis, certainly, but glad that we had to fight a war?

Wars need to be fought with determination, and with complete commitment to achieving the underlying objective, but they should never be fought with gladness.

Afghanistan was a war of necessity, and one where we do not seem to have achieved our objective. Where's Osama? Why is the Taliban still active? How come there is no order in the country outside of Kabul?

Iraq was a war of choice, and I am ashamed that my country made that choice. That said, we need to find some material, positive outcome and work with determination to achieve it.

And the terrorists did try to blow up my friends, some of whom I count as family. Twice. Rather directly. And thankfully, they all managed to escape, some with rather close calls.

#59 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2004, 07:08 PM:

Lisa: Hi there. My experiences differ from yours, although initially we probably saw it similarly. I remember telling people that George probably wouldn't rush off to war right away, I remember supporting him as much as the rest of the country in the early days after September 11th....and on some level, though I wouldn't be glad about it (re: Larry Brennan's remarks) I might have been satisfied if we'd kept our focus either on Afghanistan or the actual terrorists involved. But we didn't. (And if I can recall all my history text books correctly, fighting two wars on TWO fronts is a Bad Thing. And that's where we seem to be at now.) Now we've got not just Osama and his boys (and women) to worry about, but all the Osama franchises that seem to be springing up all over the middle east, particularly in Iraq with its porous and ill-guarded borders. You think Bush has done a remarkable job, and I'll respectfully disagree and say he's done a remarkable job of botching two wars and losing the chain of command. For that alone, I wouldn't vote for him.

(Er. Your description of "oozing left" brought some unfortunate images to mind. But I hope you'll stay. I mean, I was raised a Reagan Republican, but after almost three years of reading TNH, look at me now!!! I'm pinker than Barbie! *grin*)

#60 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2004, 01:06 PM:

I have no point here; I'd just like to mention my great-grandfather
five times removed. He did something completely unrecorded in a
village in Poland. Or Russia. Or (times being what they were) both. I
have no idea what his political preferences were, but I bet they
included not starving.

Continue as you were, please.

#61 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2004, 07:28 PM:

Heck, my great-grandfather five times removed, Frederick Layman, was a Prussian mercenary who fought on the British side of our Revolutionary War. This, technically, qualifies me for the DAR, but there's no way I'd be near them.

#62 ::: chris bond ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2004, 01:10 PM:

Anyone else notice that while people weren't looking, part of Ivan snuck back down the east coast, across Florida into the Gulf of Mexico, where it proceded to become Tropical Storm Ivan once again, and moved into Louisiana and Texas last night?

From here
Meanwhile, hurricane expert Joe Bastardi predicted the remnants of the son of Ivan could venture back into the Gulf of Mexico for a weird, third attempt at becoming a tropical storm or hurricane.

Should we be calling it Ivan the Undead now?

#63 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2004, 02:01 PM:

BoingBoing noted this bit:

#64 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2004, 02:06 PM:

Maybe we should just retroactively rename the storm Rasputin.

#65 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2004, 03:03 PM:

I'm boggled at how Hurricane Karl is threatening Iceland. I mean, come on.


#66 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2004, 06:40 PM:

My roommates and I were joking about Ivan swinging back down and around and merging with Jeanne.

I think I like what happened much better. They both did a little pirouette (Ivan's much bigger than Jeanne's graceful little twirl) and angled for the Appalachians.

At least we're only forecasted to get 'light showers' next week here in western North Carolina.

#67 ::: Brian Bodnar ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2004, 11:35 PM:

Yeah... what is it with Karl heading for Iceland... or the Faroe Islands now I guess... I always wondered what kind of havoc remnants of hurricanes dish out on Greenland and Europe after they become extratropical. I can't find anything good on line to see some detailed stat.'s or current satellite views of this stuff...

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