Yesterday, I heard several radio stations asking the same question: Are we overhyping this storm and creating a panic in the Mid-Atlantic region?
I was fascinated by the discussions the radio hosts had with their listeners who called in to share their opinions. Some callers believed the storm was going to take a right turn instead and head straight out to sea; others believed that the media was overreacting to a rainstorm that was going to do little to no damage in our area.
I don't see this storm leaving us too much to debate, unfortunately. It's going to hit us, and it is going to cause widespread damage for several reasons:
- Sandy is a slow-moving storm, and the duration of the driving rains and heavy winds will be for, at the very least, a 24-hour period;
- Many of the trees are still filled with leaves, making them heavier when wet; the leaves act as "air catchers" and allow the winds to uproot the trees with greater force;
- The ground is already saturated, and with many leaves clogging up gutters and storm drains, flooding is inevitable.
Now, it's easy to look at this scenario and see why people may believe that the media is creating a panic-like situation. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's all about providing awareness of the potential dangers, and giving residents in the area the chance to make any necessary preparations for what this storm might bring.
Preparations without the panic -- nothing more, nothing less.
BGE has done a fantastic job communicating with the public and getting enough equipment and utility workers (nearly 2,000, some as far away as New Mexico) in to the state to handle any widespread outages that might occur. They will be staging at BWI airport, Timonium Fairgrounds, and other locations throughout Central Maryland.
Our local governments and political leaders have also communicated clearly to us about shelters, how to prepare disaster kits, and other plans they have in place to address needs as they arise.
We have been given fair warning and have been given the tools we need to be prepared. This education, this awareness, prepares us so that we do not panic.
What if it is less severe than the national weather services, the local meteorologists, the media, and the emergency teams and politicians might be indicating? Fantastic! We get to resume our normal, everyday lives with little interruption.
But let's just suppose, for a moment, that we made other assumptions and acted as if the storm was not going to be a big deal. If it did turn out that there were widespread outages with massive destruction all along the Mid-Atlantic region and we were NOT prepared, then we would be facing panic with injuries and even deaths throughout the region.
Sandy is not like a Derecho that springs up quickly and destroys whatever is in its path in a matter of a few hours. We have been tracking this storm for a week now, and there are no excuses for not being prepared for major storm damage. It has been labeled as a "Frankenstorm" for a very specific reason: an arctic cold front will collide with Sandy over the northeast and cause a 1--2 punch of rain and snow areas north and west of Baltimore. Its communion will be historic, unprecedented, and devastating.
Let's prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and abandon panic in the process.
Stay safe, everybody, and stay alert. I am posting updates throughout the duration of this event with power outages, school closings, and essential numbers and websites on my site at www.rusvw.net/blog.