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Weahter: The Derecho



Joined: 7/12/2012
Posts: 2
emily.jamison1
When the thermometer on my grandfather’s dashboard read 104°, I wasn’t surprised. It was July in Washington D.C. and just a few years ago, it had been in the nineties in April. Heat waves were to be expected in Virginia, just as April snowstorms were to be expected back home in Utah. It started off like any heat wave: unbearable when we were outdoors, but relatively harmless while we were lounging in my grandparents’ living room. We had flown in the previous day and the outing of the day had been to the air and space museum. My uncle, a Smithsonian volunteer, had gotten us tickets to Tornado Alley. As we had watched the dramatic documentary, I don’t think any of us anticipated encountering a similar experience that same night.
A storm blew in that evening. None of us really thought anything of it: frequent rain was the norm, after all. The winds were particularly heavy and I heard a loud crash right before I fell asleep.
Upon waking, I instinctively flipped the light-switch, only to discover it wouldn’t turn on. Assuming the lightbulb had burnt out, I made my way in the kitchen, where my grandmother was hurriedly serving us food out of coolers. She explained that we were some of the four million people who had lost their power in the derecho, some sort of freak windstorm. It could take up to a week to get our power back.
Although we spent much of the next few days visiting my uncles’ unaffected homes, the few hours we spent each day in the humid heat were miserable, although we found ways to make it easier. We sat around the house in our swimsuits, and willingly allowed each other to douse us with the garden hose. This was one of our main sources of entertainment, seeing as our electronics had been put over commission. Each night, I took the only cold showers I have taken in my life, and still struggled to fall asleep.
Late on the second day of the power-out, I heard some of the most glorious words of my life, “They’re fixing the power line.” Everyone rushed to the window and expressed their delight when they saw the cherry picker in front of the neighbor’s house. If it hadn’t been for our mother telling us to go to bed, my brother and I easily could have watched them at work for the next few hours.
I felt a rush of joy when I flipped the light-switch the next morning and it worked. As I came into the living room, I could see my siblings were pleased as well: they were back to watching TiVo. My mom was checking Facebook and I immediately jumped at the opportunity to charge my phone. Needless to say, we had all gained a greater appreciation for air conditioning that weekend, and although we all had returned to our normal activities, we did that with an increased sense of togetherness.
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